What do Lorde, Shrek, and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston have in common? They’re all subjects I’ve written about for the Arts section of The Harvard Crimson!
The Crimson is Harvard’s independent daily newspaper, and it’s entirely written and produced by students. While classes, activities, and campus jobs have come and go, The Arts Board of The Crimson has remained a constant in my college life.
My high school may not have had a newspaper, but by the time I graduated I was certain that I wanted to be a journalist.
I had been bit by the political bug (much to my apolitical parents’ chagrin) and spent hours on hours reading all the longform and political journalism I could find. I searched The Atlantic, Politico, CNN, The New York Times, and other outlets for interesting pieces — frequently exhausting each publication’s free article allowance before the first week of the month was up.
The summer before my senior year of high school I was fortunate enough to participate in the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program, a summer “bootcamp” of sorts that introduces low-income students to the field of journalism as well as guides them through the college admissions process. I left PUSJP with a game plan for my future:
Step 1: Get into college.
Step 2. Write for my college newspaper.
Easy enough, right? I’ll spare you the lengthy details on Step 1. After a flurry of SAT exams, college essay edits, and last-minute finishing of my Common Application I was accepted to Harvard in December of my senior year of high school. As soon as I got to campus I made a point to find out when The Crimson’s first Open House would be.
I remember being nervous as I walked up to the unassuming brick building on Plympton St. in Cambridge — a stone’s throw away from Harvard Yard — but the feeling went away as soon as I saw the smiling faces waiting to greet me at the door.
I was rushed through a quick tour of the building the ended in a large meeting room where each board (News, Editorial, Arts, Design, etc.) gave their “elevator pitches” for joining their section of The Crimson. While I had walked in the building with plans of becoming the next big Politico writer, I felt myself compelled by the friendly faces and welcoming attitude of the Arts Board representatives. I went to my first Arts meeting the next week and never looked back.
Whether your idea of “art” is the Metropolitan Opera or Cardi B’s “I Do” the Arts Board will welcome you with open arms. It didn’t matter that I had never written for a newspaper before — there were weekly lessons led by training directors that taught me everything I needed to know to write features, reviews, and blog posts on topics I care about.
I found myself exploring parts of Boston, reading books, visiting museums, researching artists, and attending events that I otherwise wouldn’t have known existed had I not picked up stories about them.
The best part is that all of these events (film screenings, concerts, and more) are free! As reporters, we get press passes to events and advance copies of books/albums in order to review and write stories about them. For this reason I’ve been able to see more concerts and movies, read more books, and attend more events than I otherwise would be able to afford to — and The Crimson offers financial aid too! Students who receive financial aid can apply to be paid for their work at The Crimson in lieu of having to choose between writing for the newspaper or working an on campus job.
The Arts Board is more than just a section of the newspaper, it’s a little family. We host fun screenings of movies, board game nights, and Oscar/Grammy/Tony viewing parties. I became close friends with the editors I worked with on my pieces and with my fellow writers. If you asked me my first day on campus if I thought I would ever write a 3,000+ word investigative story, cover the 2018 Boston Calling Music Festival, or write a biweekly column of deeply personal essays on music I would’ve laughed. The Arts Board has given me these opportunities and so many more, and I’m so excited to see what moments and memories the next two years will bring.