Hardman scholar: MCLA trains real journalists
This year’s Hardman Scholar, Makayla McGeeney ’16 of Voorheesville, N.Y., says college is the time for students to become independent, work hard, and become aware of all the opportunities available to them.
As editor-in-chief of MCLA’s student-run newspaper, The Beacon, McGeeney (pictured above with this fall's Hardman lecturer, Nicholas Kristof) stepped into the position after serving an internship at the Times Union newspaper in Albany, N.Y.
“At The Beacon we are trained to be real journalists,” she explained. “I think that’s why it made me so comfortable to intern. We call and interview a variety of public figures, students and other persons. We take that information and write a real story, and it gets published.”
McGeeney keeps the newspaper running smoothly as she assigns stories and photos, contacts the printing press each week, sends the paper to the printer, and picks up any last-minute stories that need covering.
An English/communications major with a double concentration in journalism and public relations, McGeeney enjoys the social and hands-on aspect of journalism.
“With journalism, I learn about so many different people and their stories, and learn about things I never cared about – like car recalls. It’s an educating experience in itself,” she said.
She has yet to decide on a specific career. “I really just want to write,” McGeeney said.
“I've always kept a journal since middle school, and found that I had a unique voice. Doesn’t everyone? I found that I had stories that I wanted to share with people. I'm not much of a story writer, but I tell a lot of stories.”
In addition to her work at The Beacon, McGeeney has been involved with the cheerleading and photography clubs on campus. She’s also the co-coordinator for the MCLA Center for Service’s “Write Stuff” program, which connects volunteer writing coaches and mentors with fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students in North Adams schools.
“On this campus, the students are very active in what they believe in, and they aren't afraid to take charge if they want change,” she said.
As a result of her activities in the community, including her participation in the annual MCLA Day of Service, “I appreciate people more, and their efforts. I try to be more selfless,” McGeeney explained.
“As a young girl, I never imagined volunteering or being the leader that I am today, but I grew up a little and realized what kind of benefits these activities have on myself and others involved. It’s really a great feeling.”
McGeeney said her best contribution to the campus is spreading awareness – not only through The Beacon, but also the Write Stuff.
“We try to work with all kinds of clubs and organizations so that the (middle school) students get to experience all aspects of college life while still learning about abstract ideas. They love coming to the College.”
The opportunity to be this year’s Hardman Scholar is “amazing,” McGeeney said.
“When I was little, I assumed all the smart kids got all the awards and acknowledgements, but once I realized I could get good grades and do good work, that remained my focus. Receiving the Hardman scholarship gave me so much confidence and happiness about my success thus far. It also makes me appreciate my path and know that my independence and motivation has paid off, and will continue to grow as I do.”