Monica Sabella, Web Editor


Like most university students, I began my college career with a plan. But before we start, you should know something about me: I am one horrible planner.

On leaving high school, I knew what I wanted and I was positive that nothing could change my mind. I was determined to be an FBI agent. I could see myself scaling walls and speaking 100 different languages with ease and that ultra cool and collective attitude I picked up somewhere during my TV marathons. But after a few lectures in Criminal Justice, my enthusiasm began to fade. It wasn’t at all what I had expected. So, it wasn’t long before those cemented plans began morphing into a newer, prettier and more exciting dream.

In sporadic bouts, my major and career concentration would change, altering from one field to the next, shifting every three months or so. Once the glamour of the FBI had waned, homicide detective stepped into my dreamscape. Next came police sketch artist, then art restorer, museum manager, accountant, business owner, graphic designer, psychologist, social worker, anthropologist, botanist, then back to the FBI again. I just couldn’t find anything that gave me the flexibility I wanted or the satisfaction of accomplishment at the close of the day. I took every aptitude test, every personality quiz, attended every career advising walk-in — anything to help me find my way. I was about this close to dropping everything and joining the circus as a tightrope walker, but there were things I wanted from life. I wanted them too much to give up without a fight.

I knew I liked working with people and for people. My sense of justice was something I was born with and what initially drew me to criminal justice. The media’s promise of adventure in that field certainly didn’t discourage me at all, either. However, I loved the arts and couldn’t see myself enjoying any work that didn’t include it. I was running out of options. That is until one day while sitting in the career counselor’s office for what felt like the thousandth time, I spotted a brochure for the “JASS” program.

“They spelled jazz wrong…,” I remember thinking as I picked it up and opened it to take a look. The words “Journalism and Screen Studies” were scrolled across the top of the brochure. “Well, that’s one I haven’t tried yet…” and there you have it. My discovery of journalism in a nutshell. No bells or whistles; no inspirational teacher leading the way. I wish it was more exciting, something more than just what I perceived to be a misspelling. Quite honestly, it’s probably the most brilliant marketing strategy I’ve seen on campus yet. What better way to rope in potential journalists and editors than a blatant misspelling? Let me just tell you, from that moment on, I was hooked.

Writing had always been one of my strengths, so slipping into the program couldn’t have been easier. It had everything. There was art, there was communication, there was flexibility and action. I could travel and, due to changes in the field, I could be a jack-of-all-trades. A little editing here, some photography there, web editing and designing as well as writing. No two days would ever be the same. So long, monotony. I was also surprised to find that lust for justice I so admired nestled in the heart of journalism and at the center of every JASS class lecture. I couldn’t get enough of it and finally, I felt at home.

I loved the people I found in journalism, too. I loved the journalism instructors, how impassioned they were; I loved my classmates and fellow Michigan Journal writers, who were as strong willed and determined as I felt in the field and just as enthused; most importantly, I loved those I interviewed.

The thing is, there is nothing like a good interview. It’s just you and your source sitting in a cafe, chatting over a cup of coffee, and the next thing you know, they’re opening up to you, trusting you with personal stories like an old friend. I love that about it. True, it’s a huge responsibility on every level, from getting the facts right to portraying the individual honestly, but believe me, it’s not something I take lightly. As a journalist, you’re able to see things no ones sees, hear stories that otherwise might not be heard. It’s both inspiring and humbling. And from there, it’s your job to go out and share them; to be the voice for the voiceless. It’s both a privilege and an obligation and it’s that sense of duty which motivates me.

I’ve finally found something that gives back as much as I put in. Something that has the potential to help others and spread awareness. No one says it’s easy and with my track record, I can’t promise that I’ll stay in the field forever. But I do know that my love for storytelling and sense of justice will never disappear.

By May 1, exams and finals will be nothing more than bad dreams and post graduation plans will be on the roll. As I said before, I am probably the worst planner you will ever meet. I don’t have immediate plans. I hope to freelance during the summer and have already made arrangements for the fall to go abroad and study journalism. My goal is to learn more about the world around me, about different cultures and countries and the people who live there.

Throughout my life, though my career goals changed with the seasons, these values have always remained constant. The pursuit of learning, spreading awareness and achieving justice. This is and always has been my dream and that will never change.