Hi there it’s me, Claudia. I feel like most of you would know me, even if we haven’t formally met. Maybe we’re good friends, classmates, or you’ve seen me around.
Remember back in first year journalism 101? I sat in front of all of you and introduced myself via a presentation. Maybe you weren’t expecting that, but then again, you didn’t know me before then. All you knew was I was that quiet girl, in a wheelchair, sitting at the front of the classroom. Perhaps you were a bit nervous to come up and talk to me. Or perhaps you were just nervous in general, it was our first year of uni after all! Either way, I did that presentation to make it easier on both of us. I was absolutely terrified before that, but I’m so glad I did it. I mean it worked, didn’t it? I told you a bit about myself and let you know that I was just like the rest of you. I told you that it was okay to say hello, I don’t bite. Most importantly, I cracked a few jokes that made you laugh. Suddenly we were all talking to each other. We even became really good friends. The rest, as they say, is history.
Can you believe that was almost three years ago? A lot has happened since then. We’ve grown so much… Wait, wait. Before I continue. If some of you just gagged then, I’m very sorry. I know this already sounds so cheesy. But I do have a point to all this wistful reminiscing. Bare with me.
So, what’s happened? We went to a few protests and tried to cover them like real journalists. We attended some professional events and seminars. Some of you got to learn about the joys of dealing with inaccessible venues. Good times. We fumbled our way through live broadcasts for TV and radio, many of us totally sweating bullets. Mind you, we all looked fabulous dressed in our best reporter outfits. We had a few trivia nights which produced some of the more hysterical moments of the year. We laughed at Janak’s corny jokes and Tito’s poignant tweets. Sonja has opened us up to so many wild opportunities and we’ve even enjoyed the weekly newsletter-like announcements from Alex. In fact, I wish I could thank each individual amazing lecturer and tutor we’ve had throughout this degree, but I only have 700 words.
Oh, I almost forgot, WE SURVIVED A PANDEMIC! Bet you didn’t see that coming when we started first year. I’m just glad our generation got at least one full year on campus to get to know each other before we all hopped on Zoom or bloody Collaborate Ultra. On the bright side, we learnt how to use Slack really well and I don’t know about you, but all the newsrooms that I’ve interned for use it. In fact, we still learnt quite a lot from home. How to make videos and podcasts using Premiere Pro and Audition. How to manage a group project on Trello. How to build our portfolios and networks. Most notably, how to broadcast a news program from our bedrooms. Remember that week that started off with us broadcasting Newsline from a real studio on campus, then halfway through the lockdown was announced we had to switch to doing it from home the very next day. It was super stressful but still, we did it.
You don’t need me to tell you that as journalists we tend to be knee deep in the news. If we’re not writing it, we’re consuming it on a daily basis, more than most people. Every election, every natural disaster, every update to the pandemic. We are right there. It can feel pretty overwhelming on top of all the uni work we had to do. I wish I had a highlights reel to show you all, so that you could see just how much we’ve accomplished over the past three years. But I guess, that is why I’m writing this letter to you. To mark this occasion of coming to the end of our degree. Months away from graduating as fully fledged journos, ready to take on the world. You don’t have to believe me, but I am proud of each and every one of you. Just as I will be proud to work alongside any RMIT journo alumni in the future workforce. I’m proud to call myself an RMIT journo. We are not just a class of students, we are a family. A family that will look out for each other for years to come. On a personal note, thank you all for getting to know me and making me feel part of such a wonderful group of people. It’s hard as someone with a disability to fit in. But you all made it so much easier. You are good people that I will miss very much.
Finally, I want you all to remember just as I will, no matter where you end up after this year, you have accomplished something truly great. You graduated one of the best journalism degrees this country has to offer and you did that despite the many challenges we’ve all faced. You should be damn proud of that.
So, this is not goodbye, but see you round, fam.
Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!