Sunday, May 15, 2011

Unnecessary Innuendo: Graduation

Fellow Ms.editorial intern Kate Whittle earned herself a diploma this spring.  As we journalism majors stare a "dying industry" in the face and fearlessly attempt to find an entry point, we'd like to take a few moments to bask in the awesomeness of completion. 

Here's what Kate had to say, with refreshing honesty and a conversational style I've grown to love: 

Originally published Friday, May 13, 2011

"in which our young heroine completes her degree"

So! I'm graduating tomorrow! My mom's been terrified that I'll do something inappropriate like, oh, decorating my cap with beer bottle lids:

"Here's to the maroon, gold and silver, folks."
I think that says, in a subtle, tasteful way, "I am capable of being drunk off my ass and I'm still getting my degree in four years."

My parents are proud of me, and I'm pretty thankful that at the age of 21, I have a degree and minimal debt.
The University of Montana has, at last count, a 40 percent retention rate, meaning four out of ten freshmen will get their degree in six years. Not even four. Six.

So I did something that, these days, most people don't do. But I still don't feel like this degree proves much about my worth or intelligence as a human being.
Instead, it proves that I was motivated enough to usually attend class and pay attention. It shows that I'm capable of writing bullshit papers on bullshit topics. It shows that I have no learning disabilities and I'm competent at reading, writing and retaining information. It shows that my parents were wealthy enough to pay for half of my school, and I worked enough shitty jobs to pay for the other half. It shows that I had no idea what to do with my life other than to graduate high school and go to college every year, and I can successfully navigate middle-class mainstream American culture.

So I had a lot going for me from the outset. But I am still goddamn proud to be graduating from the School of Journalism-- because that work wasn't bullshit. My journalism classes mattered to me. The work I did wasn't for pretend.
So much of school is busywork and silliness, but journalism isn't. They told us in J-100 freshman year that there's no legal distinction between a student journalist and a journalist, so even as a dipshit junior in Public Affairs, you're doing the "real thing."
As you progress, it just gets harder and you hopefully get better. (You can tell I'm serious when I say "gets harder" and don't instantly chuckle. Though just now I did.)

I think I am most lucky because I knew what I wanted to do going into school, and it's the same thing I want coming out of school.

Now the really scary part is getting paid to do it.

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