Melissa Badamo’s Graduate Goodbye

When I was only a sophomore in college, I decided I wanted to pursue graduate school. I met with my advisor and matriculated into the 4 +1 dual BA/MA program for English with a concentration in creative writing. As a result, I am able to graduate with an MA in English one year after obtaining my BA.

I knew that being a full-time grad student in an accelerated, 30-credit program would be stressful and demanding, but it was more than worth it. I have accomplished so many things this year that I am extremely proud of. In my creative writing classes, I have written pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that I never would have created if I wasn’t pushed and inspired by my professors and fellow students. For that, I am grateful and proud. I am on track to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, and it feels incredible to have had such a fulfilling academic experience.

Aside from creative fiction and poetry, there is another branch of writing that remains very close to my heart: journalism. Last year, I was the Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor of The Outlook and won six awards, which was the peak of my undergraduate career.

Upon graduating with my BA, I knew I wasn’t ready to leave this newspaper yet. So, I became a Graduate Assistant, where I copyedit articles and assist in any area needed—such as writing, editing, and laying out pages in InDesign. At The Outlook, I grew from writer, to editor, to teacher. As a Graduate Assistant, I have been told by students that I’ve inspired them and helped them grow as journalists. That is what makes this a rewarding experience—to take my expertise and teach students and help them grow out of their comfort zone.

I was once—and still always will be—a student of journalism. After all, we never stop learning. I want to thank Professor John Morano, former advisor of The Outlook, who turned me into a journalist. Thank you to Dr. Marina Vujnovic, current advisor of The Outlook, who has been such a huge help this year, and who shared her online journalism expertise to give our website a modern transformation. Thank you to all The Outlook editors, both past and present, for providing me with a community.

The Outlook has always felt like a family to me, and the newsroom has always felt like a home. I still recall my first time walking into the newsroom the second week of my freshman year, when my print journalism talents were still merely buds that didn’t yet know how much they would blossom.

Thank you to my family, for being there for me always, for believing in me when things get tough, for teaching me that nothing is more valuable than an education. Thank you to my friends, for getting me through stressful times, for providing endless laughs and hugs in the student center. Thank you to my English professors, who have inspired me, believed in me, pushed me.

I pursued grad school because I love it. I love academics, I love learning, I love writing. I’ve been described as “ambitious” by my professors, and that ambition is what drives me. I love finding new ways to combine my creative writing and journalism interests. For my manuscript thesis, the capstone project of my MA program, I am writing a novel about a journalist who sets out to interview a reclusive celebrity to save her declining newspaper.

I’ve also decided to pursue my MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in creative writing in the fall here at Monmouth, an additional 18-credit program. This is a natural progression for me, being that the MA/MFA programs are so closely tied together. It provides an opportunity to further hone my craft and to continue working on the novel under the guidance of my creative writing professors.

That is what’s next for me: to continue to write both as a creative writer and a journalist. Not only because it fulfills my heart, but because it inspires others.