Journalism students learn at Columbia

Writer recounts experience at national convention


Sophomore Emily Rasmussen (from left), senior Ashley Shuler, sophomore Marissa Fentress-Lowe and junior Lacey McLaughlin brave the wind while walking across the Brooklyn Bridge during their trip to the 90th Annual CSPA convention.

On March 19 at 3:30 a.m. three of my classmates, publications adviser Tom Hayes and I made our way to the Indianapolis airport for an early morning flight to New York City.

For the next three days we attended Columbia University’s 90th annual Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Convention. While the main purpose of the trip was to participate in meetings that provided advice on how to improve our newspaper and yearbook, we made time for plenty of fun outside of the lecture halls.

After kicking off our Wednesday morning with a 5 a.m. flight, senior Ashley Shuler, junior Lacey McLaughlin, sophomore Marissa Fentress-Lowe and I landed in New York just in time to stop by a café before the lunch rush hit.

That afternoon we attended a few sessions, classes about various publications-related topics, then trekked to our hotel for a bit of much-needed rest. Fittingly, we spend the evening watching a Broadway production of Newsies, a musical about young newspaper sellers protesting unfair treatment from their employer.

On Thursday, we filled the morning and early afternoon with more sessions before stopping by the 9/11 Memorial. This monument, which is in the final stages of building before it officially opens, features two cascading waterfalls bordered by walls inscribed with the names of those who died on September 11, 2001.

After that, we skipped a trip on the Staten Island Ferry in favor of a stroll along the Brooklyn Bridge. Although winds buffeted us relentlessly, we enjoyed looking at all the locks young couples had secured on the fences and railings. (“Locking up your love” on the Brooklyn Bridge is a trendy thing to do in New York.) We closed the day with a delicious dinner in Little Italy.

We had a good time seeing New York and learning how to navigate the subway system, but most of our time was spent at Columbia learning new things about writing, design, photography and how to publish online, a task we have undertaken this school year.

Hayes even gave two presentations. He would not let us attend his sessions, but he was excited about the give-and-take he had with students from all over the world, citing students from Poland, Mexico City and Brazil among those who attended his sessions. One of his sessions was even filmed by the CSPA for a future promotional video.

We dedicated most of our time on Friday to shopping. We admired the Lego Store, which displayed intricate sculptures made from the tiny bricks; bought bags of merchandise at Times Square’s Forever 21, which featured four floors of fashions and browsed Bloomingdales, which was full of $300 shirts we praised but would never buy. After the stores, we walked through Central Park before riding a limousine to the LaGuardia airport, where we caught our flight home.

Full of fun, famous attractions and conversations about how many of us would love to live there someday, our trip to New York City was a success. I cannot wait to return to the city at the next opportunity.