Category Archives: Graduate Life

Spring ’15; all that’s new this semester

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

The Fall 2014 semester seems like another time and place, a lifetime ago. I had just transferred over from PR and was starting an entirely new course load and journey into journalism. I was pretty overwhelmed by the transition and trying to take on everything at a quicker pace than other first semester journalism students, since I knew I would only have a year to accomplish everything they would be doing in a year and a half. Last semester I wrote for this blog, the features department at The Daily Free Press, a Boston-based online food magazine called Simmer, and freelanced for BU’s online magazine The Quad.

Besides that, I was searching for an internship for the spring; I knew that would be critical to me entering the workforce come graduation in May ’15. I fortuitously ended up with an internship with Boston magazine this semester, and am already enjoying it. Since my preferred topic and medium is lifestyle magazine writing, I couldn’t be happier. I am doing a lot of fact-checking, which allows me to dig deep into how sources were gathered and the information given. Although it can be painstaking, I’m learning a lot about the newsgathering process and topics I knew nothing about.

On Feb. 24, my first article will be published in Boston HOME. It is a piece on an artist and her gouache paintings. If you know what that means, I salute you. I didn’t before I wrote the article. I’m hoping I will get to write many more over the course of the semester. I’m also an editor of the Spotlight section of The Daily Free Press. Editing has really given me the opportunity to keep on top of AP style as well as keep up with the news cycle. Having to pitch several stories every week keeps me constantly on the lookout for what’s coming up on the horizon and what is newsworthy.

This semester is going to be a whirlwind, especially once the thesis gets off the ground. I think the hardest part about starting it will be deciding on a topic. I’m hoping some of my professors will be able to help, and I’ll aim to do a print series (with some multimedia) on some aspect of agriculture or the fishing industry. The one thing I’ve learned from all the craziness is the more involved you are with everything around you, the more you are able to connect the dots. Whether you’re interviewing a professor, chef, biologist, business owner, or Miss USA, you can learn from each one something that will surprisingly apply to something else you are doing.

IMG_2908Michelle Marino at her desk at the Boston magazine office

This is especially true when it comes to networking. I went to a COM networking event last semester and met the Food Editor of Boston magazine. At my internship, I am sitting right behind her and get insight into what she’s working on every day. Here’s to a great Spring 2015 semester!


Remembering David Carr, COM Professor and NY Times columnist

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

As the journalism community grieved the loss of David Carr last evening, students at COM had to put emotions aside and do what they are being trained to do in the face of such a happening; report.

The recent couple weeks have been unfortunate for the world of journalism; the killing of two Japanese journalists by ISIS, Jon Stewart stepping down from the daily show, Bob Simon of CBS’s 60 Minutes passing away and last evening, David Carr.To us at COM, he was not just another journalist. He was one of our professors, one of us.

Within minutes of hearing the news about his death though, students at the Boston University News Service (BUNS) and The Daily Free Press sprung in to action.

“Bulletin: There’s chatter on Twitter that David Carr has died. We need to confirm or debunk this. If it’s true, we need to report. If it’s not true we need to report how this happened.” posted Prof. Michelle Johnson on the Facebook page for BUNS contributors.

Within an hour of her posting, there were over a 100 responses in the comments section. Students had reached out to current professors, the Dean, students taking his class this semester and others who had taken it previously. The obituary that came out from this teamwork can be found on the BUNS website.

Jamie Bologna, a recent COM grad, who had taken Carr’s class last semester,tweeted about the loss.


Jamie Bologna’s tweets from the night of 12th Feb, ’15

Prim Chuwiruch who took his course, Press Play, in the fall of 2014 said, “David Carr went beyond being just a professor. He was a mentor and a friend in times when he didn’t need to be, but he did anyways.”This is what the syllabus for his course Press Play looked like. I’m a second semester grad student at BU and I’ve not seen a syllabus from any other course look anything like this.

The Daily Free Press put together a page overnight dedicated to the late professor.  COM alumni Megan Turchi and Justine Hofherr who both took his class wrote this piece for More coverage on the life of Carr and his demise will be up on BU News Service over the next couple days.

Despite being sad for the loss COM has suffered, I’m honestly grateful for the experience of working in a newsroom with such great teams. These are essential lessons that we learn for our lives as journalists. And I’m glad I’m learning it here at COM.


(Featured image courtesy: BUNS)


Experience is a teacher—grad school lessons learned

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

My semester of graduate school has come to a close and I figure it’s only appropriate to reflect upon and sum it all up as my final blog post of Fall 2014. Every day, every week, every course, everything came with a learning lesson at Boston University’s College of Communication (COM). As a first semester Master’s student, the past three months have not been a bag of gummy bears. Everything was so different from college, and everything I’ve ever thought about school was thrown out the window. It was a completely different world equipped with completely different learning lessons.

Lesson #1: Getting by on the hard days.
Hard days are unavoidable. They happen to all of us. My strategies? More like denial. I’ll usually do something else, whether it’s stuff I have to do anyway, like laundry or grocery shopping, or something that interests me, like reading a book for fun or dancing. Then, when I feel up to it, I’ll come back and address whatever it is that’s bothering me. I’ll probably go out for a run or sweat it off at the gym, then make some dinner and try to forget about my problems temporarily with The Office reruns.

I think it’s important to recognize that we all need some time to switch our minds to “off” and watch some TV or engage in something mindless without feeling guilty. When all else fails, if my motivation level just can’t seem to climb back up, even after watching the antics of Dunder Mifflin Scranton’s regional manager, I turn all electronics off and just get a good night’s sleep. I also try to think about my goals (why I’m here in grad school) and my successes so far. This helps me counterbalance the setbacks and help feed my motivation to get up in the morning. Never go to bed angry or sad on a hard day, trust me, you won’t be getting a good night’s sleep.


Lesson #2: Handling A Full Plate
Grad school is all about prioritizing…everyone says you can do everything if you just make time. There are impending deadlines, projects to film, events to attend and write about, assistantships, extra-curriculars, jobs outside of school, actual studying, and of course trying to find enough time to cram in a social life and sleep. But the worst of the all is that dreaded virus we always seem to catch mid-semester: procrastination. It’s contagious…so don’t give in! I won’t lie, this was one of the most difficult things to handle but that’s why it’s a learning lesson. We learn to not procrastinate, (or do we?), we learn to get everything turned in on time, we learn to take one weekend off from drinking to catch up on schoolwork and sleep, and we learn to get any extra help we may need. As busy as my classmates were, and as much as we all struggled during those hard days, we all came out alive.

Lesson #3: Maintaining Good Emotional/Mental/Physical Health
There will be weeks where you feel extra frazzled and overwhelmed, and you think you’re coming down with a cold. Stress can trigger so much of your emotional, physical, and mental health. It’s important to make sure you try and get plenty of sleep. Planning on pulling an all-nighter to finish that last project or study for an exam? Forget it…just go to bed and come back to it in the morning. Or, if you followed Lesson #2 and try to get everything done on time by planning accordingly, you won’t be in that situation. Avoid procrastination at all costs, as that is the number one trigger of stress.


Lesson #4: Taking Advantage of Resources
Sometimes we forget how fortunate we are to have a university basement that’s fully equipped with every single camera, recorder, tripod, etc. known to mankind. Not to mention, we have department newsletters that offer lists of internship opportunities, drop-in career advice time slots, or the excellent list of faculty advisors who are always just an email away if we ever need guidance. One of the best things about BU’s College of Communication is the amount of invaluable resources handed to us at any and all times. You’re spending enough time and money into your education, so why not take advantage of all the freebies and sources while you can? It’s also important to take advantage of the amazing courses offered every semester, whether they are within or outside your intended concentration. It’s also about learning for the sake of learning and practicing for the sake of getting better; grad school isn’t about regurgitating textbook materials on an exam to receive a grade. It’s about fundamental learning and really soaking in the content we are exposed to every day. We are offered a practical, hands-on vocational education where we learn lessons outside of textbook academia. We’re also given extracurricular activities with several different publications around campus such as the BU Buzz, The Daily Free Press, Good Morning BU, BU News Service, etc. Don’t think of joining publications as a chore—think of it as an opportunity to network, gain experience, get inspired, get published, and have some fun.


Overall, it’s been an amazing first semester at COM and it makes me sad to think that in only a year I’ll be saying goodbye to this program, professors, and the wonderful friends I’ve made in such a short amount of time. In just over three months, I’m better equipped and more than ready to take on the spring semester, where I’ll be taking 20 credits, writing for Boston University News Service (BUNS) and a graduate assistantship waiting. But hey, that’s what I signed up for, isn’t it?


Guest blogger: PR grad student shares her first semester experience at COM

By Becca Liudzius
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

The halls of BU’s College of Communication (COM) are much quieter now that everyone has settled into what many consider the most stressful week of all—finals week. Lucky for me, and for most other COM grad students, my semester ended last Wednesday with the last day of classes. No, I did not have final exams, but yes, I did have four (that’s right, four!) final presentations within a three-day stretch. As I sat back in my desk last Wednesday night after my Writing for Media Professionals final presentation, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally done with all my work. I had successfully completed my first semester of graduate school.

Now, don’t let me confuse you… this semester wasn’t just all stress and no fun. Sure, the adjustment from being an undegrad to a studious “adult” in graduate school was difficult, especially when it happened all in one year, but my first semester as a Public Relations grad student at BU has overall been an incredible experience.

Some of the hi934808_10203805522673568_1393775127967161284_nghlights of my semester include:

My first weekend: What better way to start the semester than with Boston Calling (a three-day music festival on City Hall Plaza in the heart of Boston). I went with a couple of my friends and it was an awesome experience! Despite us having to evacuate for a couple hours due to a severe thunderstorm, we still got to see Lorde and Childish Gambino.

My Professors: This has been the first semester of my life that I have genuinely liked all of my professors. All four have been so helpful and knowledgeable.  I am so grateful to have such great mentors as I embark upon my grad school journey.

Group projects: Yes, group projects!  A task I absolutely despised in undergrad has become a lot more bearable, even fun at times. Group projects are now an experience where I can look forward to input and collaboration from my peers, and not worry about having to do all of the work myself.

Cooking: Having always had a meal plan at my undergrad, I never really learned to cook. At all. The beginning of this semester was filled with frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets, but now I have learned that cooking can be really fun and yummy. Adult life, here I come!

BuzzFeed: For my aforementioned writing class, our final project was to interview someone interesting. I took a long shot by emailing one of my favorite writers from BuzzFeed asking to interview him. He said yes, and I got to go to the BuzzFeed office over Thanksgiving break and interview him. That was probably my favorite thing I did this semester.

Overall, this fall has been great. I am looking forward to next semester (especially my Nonprofit Public Relations class with Professor Downes and my internship with Peace First). But before that, my winter break will consist of much need sleep, my mom’s home cooking, some reading for leisure, and lots and lots of Netflix.

Have any questions for our PR graduate student, Becca? Ask her in the comment section below!

If you’re interested in finding out more about all graduate programs offered through BU’s College of Communication, make sure to visit our website here.




International Students

A helping hand for the international students in COM’s Journalism graduate program

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

All Journalism graduate students at BU’s College of Communication are required to take JO721- Journalism Principles/Techniques. Every fall, Professor Christopher Daly teaches a section of JO721 designed for all new international grad students in the Journalism program.

Alongside classes, Prof. Daly does his bit to help these same students acclimate to American culture and the education system. “In a program like journalism, a lot of our assignments depend on cultural awareness. If the students need to tackle topics like the Red Sox, Halloween and Black Friday they need to have a general knowledge of American folkways and society, as they cannot be expected to have that exposure coming from another country” he says.

The American exposure begins early in the semester, when Daly invites students to his home so they can get a first-hand impression of an American household. Daly is also known to bring alumni and other experienced journalists into his classroom to speak to the international students.

The positive influence Daly’s class and efforts have on international students is apparent through the grad students who have been in the program for a few semesters. “My more experienced students come into class and happily and spontaneously testify that they got a lot better over the course of their first year. ” says a proud Daly.

Those grad students who visited Daly’s current students had a lot of advice to offer. Third-semester Journalism student Claire Giangrave told them about how she would ask American students who were better than her to let her read their work. She would look at what they did and imitate it. “The truth is, you have to work harder and better than the others. I made it my goal to compare myself with the best, not just among my peers, but also with great journalists and professors.” she said. She also advised the students to not hesitate to ask for help from fellow students and BU’s amazing faculty. Claire herself moved to Boston from Rome.

Prim Chuwiruch, another third-semester Journalism student from Bangkok, advises new grad students to relax. “ I know that it sounds like the most easiest piece of advice but it’s true. Once you take a breather and get yourself accustomed to everything in this new city, things will fall into place on their own and you’ll look back and wonder why you ever stressed out so much in the first place.”

A couple weeks ago, Melanie Lidman, an alumnus from the University of Maryland, visited Daly’s international class. Lidman now writes for The Times of Israel and the Global Sisters Report. The entire section pepped up when Lidman told stories about her reporting experiences in troubled parts of the world including Egypt and Israel. She also offered some sound advice for those pursuing a career in the journalism industry: “You will make mistakes along the way. It’s a long journey to grow as a writer and move your career forward,” she told the class.

Are you an international student looking to apply to BU? Find out more about the application process here.