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ACP 2012 | Looking back, looking forward

Check out The Campanil‘s Tumblr.

You can follow Diana Arbas on Twitter at @dianaarbas.

ACP Seattle can be about experiencing a new city, bonding with fellow editors outside the newsroom (and how! four in a room — we’re sharing beds!) and soaking up the latest and most exciting in journalism. But for me, it’s also about reconnecting with my community college roots and remembering how this all started.

I’ve been running into Robert Mercer, my first journalism advisor. I enrolled in his Journalism 101: Reporting & Writing class — count it — four years ago at Cypress College, a pretty community college in north Orange County by Knott’s Berry Farm. It was a once-a-week night class that was basically pass/fail. You write 14 news stories for the Cypress Chronicle by the end of the semester, you get an A. You don’t, an F.

I was still having an on-again, off-again relationship with school by then. I’d developed a really bad habit of dropping and failing classes, and Journalism 101 (and its 14 news stories) seemed like another good class to give up on. But I stuck with it. I wrote the 14 stories. At semester’s end, I turned in my final exam and portfolio and asked Mercer if I could be editor in chief.

“Done,” he said.

But back to that first night of journalism. Mercer is one of those profs who make you turn to the people next to you and ask for their phone number. That way you have someone to call when you miss class or something.

I turned to the student next to me. He turned out to be a great accountability buddy and best friend. An incredibly supportive co-editor the following semester and today my boyfriend of three years going on four.

Here at ACP, I run into Mercer and the old man says, “Arbas!” And: “You and Derbes still together?”

My domestic life aside — I am proud to represent Mills College here in Seattle and to show my old mentor that I’ve stuck with journalism and still report and write the news, drawing from what I was taught in Journalism 101 four years ago.

Which has me thinking: What will I be doing in four years? Still journalism?

I hope so.

Like I said, for many I’m sure ACP is about exploring the birthplace of Starbucks and taking tons of notes at workshops on student press law and multimedia reporting. But for me, this is my last undergraduate journalism conference. I’ve been to four — Statewide JACC Downtown LA, SoCal JACC CSU Fullerton, National ACP Hollywood and now Seattle — and this last conference is really about reflection.

I love writing for the Campanil and curating the News section. It’s about to end. I graduate in May. Was journalism just this AWESOME extracurriculur activity, a way to contribute meaningfully to my campus community? Or is this only the beginning, the stepping stone to a professional journalism career?


Check out The Campanil‘s Tumblr.