By Sarah Siock
Between transferring schools, commuting for four years and a pandemic halting in-person classes, I’ve had far from the traditional college experience. Yet, there has been one constant throughout my college career: my love for the degree I was pursuing.
I chose to be a journalism major on a whim, thinking it seemed like the right choice for someone who liked to write. However, I quickly realized that my major was so much more than that. Working as a student reporter for The Rider News and being at the center of major events on campus showed me how essential journalism is to a community. Journalists work not only to inform but to motivate change, and I feel so lucky to be entering a field that values those ideals.
While I now reflect on my time at The Rider News with great pride, I have to admit I started at Rider with many hesitations. In fall of 2020, I came to the university as a transfer student from a community college in Pennsylvania. I spent my junior year and first year at Rider taking online classes in my bedroom nearly an hour away from campus. I felt detached from the community, with my short time at Rider becoming even more limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite feeling out of place, I knew I wanted to write for The Rider News. I spent the summer before transferring worrying if the newspaper would have a role for me to step into. However, my worries were somewhat subdued when I reached out to Stephen Neukam, the former executive editor, a few weeks before the semester began. I was then set up with my first story assignment before I even started classes at Rider.
After a few weeks of writing for the paper’s arts and entertainment section, I was asked to fill the section’s vacant co-editor position. I immediately accepted and was ecstatic to feel like I was finding my place at Rider. Due to working for the newspaper, I spent that school year feeling much less isolated from the Rider community, despite it being such an unusual time.
My expectations at Rider were exceeded once again when I was elected executive editor of The Rider News for the 2021-2022 school year. I am so thankful to the staff for believing in me and trusting me to lead them during a time of transition as we switched back to in-person classes.
During my time as executive editor, I have grown as not only a journalist but as a person. The job has shown me the need to be persistent and not become discouraged when faced with challenges or unwarranted pushback. The role also helped build my confidence (I’ve always been my biggest critic).
I am so fortunate to have worked with such a wonderful Rider News staff this year. Each person is unbelievably hard-working and made coming to the newsroom the best part of my day. It is rare to find a group of people that can make late nights and endless hours of editing enjoyable.
However, I would not have been able to lead The Rider News without our incredibly dedicated adviser Jackie Incollingo. She teaches us the importance of resilience and determination when working on a story. Incollingo is always there to answer our questions and give advice but also allows us to grow as students. I strive to become a journalist with just a fraction of her talent.
My next step in my academic journey is the University of Maryland where I will be working toward a master’s degree in journalism on a full-tuition scholarship. I want to thank The Rider News for preparing me for what comes next and for letting me be a part of something truly special.
senior journalism major