Vista • Spring 2011 • Volume 16 • Number 1
Shoshana Walter ’07: Journalist
The police officer tightened the plastic zip ties around my wrists and plunked me onto the ground. On one side of the street, more than 100 arrestees. On the other, a row of officers in riot gear, with batons. How, I scolded myself, did I get here?
The short answer: I’m a journalist.
The long answer: From South Hadley to Florida to California, mostly by plane.
As a crime reporter for the Bay Citizen in San Francisco, I often find myself in sticky situations. The most recent was my almost arrest while covering a protest in Oakland. The fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, a black man, by a white police officer had inspired so much fury that activists and residents took to the streets, and I was right there with them.
I love my job. It’s a perfect combination of my strengths (writing) and interests (race, class, and gender). And undoubtedly, one of the main reasons for my success is Mount Holyoke. I didn’t figure out this career path until the second semester of my sophomore year when, at the incessant urging of my mother, I enrolled in an Introduction to Journalism class because the Introduction to Creative Writing class was full.
Good thing. Once I figured it out, I found everything I needed at MHC. Experienced professors to hone my skills; funding to start a feminist magazine; and local connections to internships. I participated in student organizations that encouraged students to question societal norms and to think deeply about social issues. My major, American studies, and my incredible peers, taught me to think critically about race, class, and gender. Those experiences inform my writing.
On a recent Friday night, I spied on pimps and learned about the underage sex trade in East Oakland. I wrote about the San Francisco Police Department’s mishandling of the mentally ill. In Florida, I delved into child molestation and racial tension at a local middle school.
Today, nearly four years after graduation, I have won six awards. As a reporter for the Bay Citizen, a pioneering nonprofit journalism organization, I regularly write for the Bay Area section of the New York Times.
My job is my passion; I’d do it, no matter what. But I feel I owe a great deal of my professional success to the formative years I spent at Mount Holyoke. Here I built up the critical-thinking skills, knowledge, and courage to survive pretty much anything. Like an almost arrest.
Mount Holyoke College • Vista
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