By: Cale Bloskas
Leaving their hometown for college is often a significant milestone in a student’s life that allows them to break out of the “bubble” they grew up in and redefine themselves. In Eastern New Mexico, it is often an opportunity to experience the world and have opportunities that they would not usually have here. However, as senior journalism student at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), Chelsie Arnold learned you do not have to travel far to connect with people all over the nation and be successful.
Arnold, a native of Portales, NM, looked forward to the day when she could leave Portales. It was only after considering ENMU that she realized that they offered more than she gave them credit for. Arnold said, “I started considering the financial perks of [attending] Eastern. I took classes [at ENMU] in high school, and I liked the atmosphere and the people that I met… I decided to stay, and I do not regret that decision at all.”
Opportunities to be successful often take a little bit of work. Arnold put in the extra work to seek opportunities and now is an intern for USA Today College as a digital producer. The internship with USA Today College provides Arnold with the opportunity to receive advice and guidance from experienced professions as well as other college students across the U.S.
Arnold heard about the opportunity from another student in the Communication Department but said that she honestly didn’t feel like she would get the position since ENMU is a remote college with a small number of students. The chance to work for USA Today College did not come easy; it is something Arnold has worked for the last few years to achieve. Speaking of the experience, Arnold said, “I applied the first time a year and a half ago, and they did not select me to be a paid intern, but they did select me to be an unpaid contributor for the semester… I didn’t get paid for anything that was published, but I had the opportunity to create a connection between them.”
It was not until this semester, her last semester at ENMU, that USA Today College offered Arnold a paid position. Arnold learned a valuable lesson about taking a chance and not giving up. Talking about the importance of students being willing to take a chance, Arnold said, “If you wait for an opportunity to seek you out, you might be waiting for a little bit…. However, if you take a chance you never know where it will get you. Even if you are unpaid for a while, it will all work out and benefit you.”
The internship has allowed her to interview people from across the country and write stories that would mainly only be of interest to college students. However, a few months ago when the riots broke out at the University of California, Berkeley surrounding the visit of Milo Yiannopoulos, Arnold had the opportunity to receive national attention for her writing.
Speaking about the experience, Arnold said, “The riots happened while I was on my shift on Wednesday and my editor asked me if I could write something about it. I gathered all the information that I could find, like tweets of the journalist there live or students live-tweeting the situation, and I wrote something up. USA Today’s main site picked up the story, and pulled some of my information to include in their article and listed me as a contributor to their article.”
Becoming a journalist has not been Arnold’s plan from the beginning. Like most students when they start school she did not know what she wanted to do when she started. Instead, she went to Counseling and Career Services on ENMU campus for help figuring out what would be the best fit. Talking about this stressful time, Arnold said, “I was super freaked out about picking a major and I did not want to change my major hundreds of times. It was causing me immense stress because I was not sure what to pick. I honestly could have picked anything and changed it would’ve been that big of a deal.” Counseling and Career Services gave her a personality test that told her that her best fit would be in public relations. However, once she started taking mass communication classes she quickly fell in love with journalism and knew that is what she wanted to pursue a career in journalism instead of public relations.
When asked about her plans, Arnold says that she is engaged and not sure where she will end up with also having to consider her fiancé’s plans also. However, she said, “What I like about the field of journalism is that you do not necessarily have to be in the same location especially with technology, you can do interviews on Skype and over the phone. I think that is where everything is headed and has been headed toward so I could do a lot of it from anywhere.”
The experiences that Chelsie Arnold has had at ENMU are an example that opportunities often come when you least expect them. Although ENMU is not a large university, there are still opportunities here that will allow students to be successful after they graduate. Being successful after you graduate takes work, but as Arnold has shown, that work begins well before you receive your diploma.