“What do you want to be when you grow up?” For me, the answer to this question has transformed and adapted so dramatically throughout my lifetime. When I was 6, I wanted to be a ballerina. When I realized that I had no dance ability whatsoever, despite years of dance classes, I changed my answer to a veterinarian. However, when I was older and realized my disdain for biology and science, I realized that this too, was not my path.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
When I was 12, I finally thought I had found my answer. I wanted to be a journalist. After all, I loved to read and write, and the world of journalism seemed so alluring to me. I took every journalism class available, writing for my high school newspaper and local periodicals. I applied to collegiate journalism programs scattered throughout the six state New England region. But, from the moment I heard Susan Baran discuss her career at open house, Bryant University began to feel like home. Aside from the community, the beautiful campus, and the people – I mostly chose Bryant for its esteemed communication department and the opportunity to extend my education to the graduate level through the accelerated 4+1 program.
So I followed this dream of mine. The dream of being the next Diane Sawyer, or Lester Holt, or Scott Pelley. Ever since I was 12, this dream had never wavered – I would tell friends and family that I was pursuing a career in broadcast journalism. I took all of the right classes – everything from media literacy, to broadcast journalism, to studio production. When it came time to start applying to internships, I had my sights set on one thing: a news intern position at the CBS Boston affiliate, WBZ News.
And then, one day, I got the call. Out of hundreds of applicants, I had been selected as one of only three interns to work in the news department. I had finally started on the path on what I believed was going to be my dream career.
Unfortunately, having dreamt of what it would be like to be a journalist for the last ten years of my life ultimately set myself up for failure. While I loved the internship experience and the people I got to work with on a daily basis, I noticed that my dream of becoming a network news anchor was becoming less and less something that I wanted. At the end of the summer, I came to the realization that although it had been my dream for almost a decade, maybe sometimes your dreams have to grow up with you.
So now, here I am – 21 years old, staring down the barrel of the last half of my senior year. And no clue what I want to do when I have to leave in a few months. However, instead of knowing what career path I might want to follow, I now have a list of newfound passions that I have the opportunity to craft into my own future. None of this would be possible without the help of Bryant or its esteemed faculty.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Well, let’s be honest. I don’t really know what I want to be anymore. But what I do know is the education that I had at Bryant for the last four years set me up for a world full of opportunities and possibilities.
Oh, the places you’ll go
I can vividly remember the very first time I toured Bryant. It was a rainy autumn Saturday afternoon, and I decided to make the venture to Smithfield purely on a whim. I had primarily toured large universities in Boston; in fact, Bryant was part of only a handful of colleges that I toured that were not located in a major metropolitan city. While I was skeptical of the university’s “business school” reputation, I kept an open mind and tried not to dismiss it prematurely.
The moment I sat down, I had the privilege of being introduced to Susan Baran. As she took the stage, I was immediately awed by her impressive career in the broadcast industry, and her work here at Bryant. The following semester, as my senior year of high school rapidly drew to a close, I found my mind constantly coming back to the communication program here at Bryant. Despite being accepted to some of the most prestigious journalism programs in the country, I could not shake the feeling of awe and admiration that I felt the very first time I stepped onto campus. After visiting the school a few more times and meeting more of the communication department, I selected Bryant to be my home for the next four years of my life.
To be honest, the rest is history. Throughout my time here, I have strived to be my best in all of my commitments, whether inside or outside of the classroom. I sought to make connections with as many faculty members as possible, and I can confidently say that I have a strong, positive rapport with the entire communication department. Furthermore, at the end of my sophomore year, I was chosen to represent the communication department on the Dean’s Advisory Council. In this role, I am able to advocate for students studying communication, and I am pleased to see how much the department has grown throughout the last four years.
Inside the classroom, I have flourished as well. In fact, I still fondly reminisce on the first communication course I ever took at Bryant – Honors Process of Communication, taught by Stanley Baran. While I did not know it at the time, this course would lay the foundation for what would ultimately become my passion for mass communication. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to learn from Dr. Baran, who is another faculty member who has played an integral role in my Bryant experience.
I have loved every course that I have had the privilege of taking throughout my time here at Bryant. As discussed, throughout the last four years, I have focused my studies primarily in the study of mass communication and its effects on audiences. One area in particular that I have discovered a passion for is the topic of media literacy. I took a course in this subject in my junior year, and it inspired me in new ways. This being said, I discovered a passion for studying media effects, and I have attempted to weave this passion into my final courses.
One way that I have accomplished this is by dedicating my studies to understand key mass communication theories. From cultivation theory, to social cognitive theory, and beyond, I have enveloped myself in better understanding how media impacts society. Not only has this made me a more media literate person, I firmly believe that it helps me to better understand the world all around me. This can be seen particularly through my work on my Honors Capstone. For this endeavor, for the last few months I have dedicated myself to analyzing the ways in which media portrayals of Greek affiliated students ultimately contribute to the formation of stereotypes on college campuses. With the help of Dr. Baran, as well as four years’ worth of communication courses to draw on, I have uncovered and subsequently applied yet another passion that would have remained unknown without Bryant’s help.
While my senior year begins to draw to a close, I find myself often looking back at the last four years with both nostalgia and appreciation. Without the guidance of this collection of esteemed faculty members, I would never have had the opportunity to uncover new passions or expand my knowledge outside of the classroom. Without the encouragement of Susan Baran, I would have never stepped outside my comfort zone and applied for the Public Speaking Colloquium my sophomore year; where I placed in the Top 6 and spoke to a room of hundreds of people. Without the guidance of people like Chris Morse and Kevin Pearce, I would have never acknowledged my love for education and applied for graduate school. I am incredibly excited to see where the rest of my education leads, and grateful that I get to spend at least another year at Bryant expanding my knowledge of communication.
I know that this essay probably reads like a love letter to the Bryant University communication faculty. However, the people I have met, the classes I have taken, and the projects that I have worked on have all expanded my knowledge for the discipline in ways I could have never foreseen. Moving forward, I am excited to further my education to the graduate level within the next year. While I may not know what I want to do for the rest of my life, or where I want to be, or even who I want to be; I am confident that the education that I have had throughout my time at Bryant has prepared me for whatever challenges that I may face in the “real world.”
For that reason, I will always be grateful for the rainy fall day in my senior year, where I discovered the place that has become my second home, and the people who have become my second family.
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