Mar. 06, 2013

Shaping Lives of Purpose: Award encouraged aspiring journalist

dan obrien

Daniel O'Brien '13 says he has worked hard to improve his journalism skills, and is currently the associate news editor of The Lamron. Support from a scholarship allowed him to focus on his studies and improving his skills.  /PHOTO BY KEITH WALTERS '11




Daniel O'Brien '13 is a double major in English Literature and communication, with a concentration in intercultural and critical studies, who has a passion for journalism. As a recipient of a scholarship at Geneseo, he shares his experiences at the college and what such support has meant to him.

I joined The Lamron as a staff writer in the fall of 2010 — my sophomore year — for the Arts and Entertainment section. The next semester I studied abroad in London, where I took courses in English and art history at the London Metropolitan University.

I not only got to travel around Europe, but I was also exposed to the intercultural contexts that inspired a shift in my academic concentration. I became interested in language and communication. When I returned in the fall of 2011, I declared a second major in communication and became more involved in the Lamron as a news writer. I had always enjoyed writing and it felt like I have found a new medium by which to do it.

Last spring, I was awarded the Ambassador Apartments Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Journalism, funded by longtime Geneseo supporter Frank Csaspo. It felt great to receive the award because I put a lot of time and effort into improving as a writer. The difference between academic writing and journalistic writing was difficult at first.

Over the year, I worked hard and took criticism. My work improved almost immediately, and eventually resulted in the award, which recognizes outstanding writing for the school newspaper. Award recipients are selected by the Department of Communication faculty, so the fact that my professors were the ones to give me the award also meant a lot.

Mr. Csapo's support was especially appreciated, and vital, when I returned to Geneseo for my senior year. I was not awarded the work-study financial aid I had been for the past three years, which allowed me the extra money I needed for academic and personal expenses. Thanks to Mr. Csaspo's endowed scholarship, I received the same amount of money I would have for one semester of work-study. A great deal of pressure was relieved and I could focus on my studies — and improving my journalism.

Not only did the award help me financially, but it also helped on an academic and personal level. Being chosen for the award meant that the faculty recognized my journalistic work. This was great for my morale; that summer, I interned at the New York Daily News. The award validated my work and my skills and allowed me to enter that position with more confidence in myself and my abilities. Shaping Lives of Purpose: The Campaign for Geneseo, is raising $22 million to provide opportunities for students.

I am now the associate news editor of the Lamron. Ultimately, the position means I serve as the writer for the most important news stories. I also assist the news editor with workshops for new writers and story assignments. I serve on the executive board with 16 other students. Together we hire assistants for each section, brainstorm and write a staff editorial each week, and generally work together to make the paper as interesting and credible as possible.

Now I am improving upon my interview, research, writing and editing skills as an intern this semester in College Communications, for the Geneseo Scene and Encompass. I also write creatively, and am working on publishing a collection of poetry. After college, I am hoping to join AmeriCorps Vista for a year before pursuing a career in journalism or publishing, as well as continuing as a creative writer.

In the face of graduation, leaving behind the comfortable yet rewarding work I've done for the Lamron and other publications, I am thankful for the support of people like Frank Csapo and the communication department, who provided me with the encouragement I needed to continue to pursue my passion for writing.