Class of 2020 graduates return to share advice and memories

June 18, 2021

By Emma Ferschweiler

Five of The Lighthouse’s former staff members returned to Ms. Pastor’s journalism classes to participate in a series of virtual alumni panels on June 8 and 10. The Class of 2020 graduates reflected on their first year in college and offered guidance based on their experiences.

Former editor-in-chief Katrina Hauser has not yet declared a major at The George Washington University in Washington D.C., but she is considering communication or journalism as her field of study. Hauser spent the fall semester learning remotely while living in Lyndhurst. 

“It was hard to get motivated, and I found it hard to join new organizations,” Hauser said. “Adjusting to a college semester online was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.”

Even though her classes remained online for the duration of the year, in January, Hauser moved on campus to get a more traditional college experience.

“I’m really glad that I did it because it made me a lot happier,” Hauser said. “Living in the city made me more independent and I truly felt like an adult with all the responsibilities I have now.”

Gianna Glover, who was managing editor for The Lighthouse, is now studying Communication and Media Arts at Montclair State University. She is looking towards a career as a public relations specialist or social media manager.

Glover said it is important for college students to make connections because they lead to future success and job offers.

“Internships are so hard to get freshman year, but it’s not hard to prepare for them,” Glover said. 

She said even freshmen should visit their professors during office hours to build rapport and ask them for recommendations to prepare for future opportunities.

Glover said being part of The Lighthouse taught her skills that extend far beyond writing. She said her communication, social networking and time management abilities were all strengthened by her participation on the newspaper staff. 

Glover advised the students to avoid procrastination by telling themselves that an assignment is due earlier than it actually is.

“Don’t ever underwork. Always do your best [and] give your best potential because it ends up paying off in the end, and you make yourself look better as a student,” Glover said. 

She said while it is possible to procrastinate and still meet deadlines, the habit inevitably takes a toll on one’s mental health. 

Like Glover, former staff writer Brandon Ross said leaving assignments till the last minute is not an option in college because there is so much work to do.

“For assignments, don’t lose track. Stay focused and get one assignment done at a time,” Ross said. 

Ross is currently studying at Bergen Community College in Paramus, where he is working towards an associate’s degree in broadcasting. He said taking classes remotely has been difficult because broadcasting requires in-person training such as handling a camera. Nonetheless, Ross said online learning comes with some advantages.

“[I] had to be comfortable [with] being at home trying to learn,” Ross said. “That was my favorite thing: just adapting and overcoming the obstacles that were there.”

After he graduates from Bergen, Ross said he plans to continue his education in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Duquesne University, Point Park University or the University of Pittsburgh

Alexa Barreiros, who served as editor-in-chief last year, just completed her freshman year at Rider University in Lawrence Township. Unlike some of the other panelists, Barreiros was able to dorm on campus throughout the school year but said she still missed out on the college’s usual activities such as Freshman Orientation and Admitted Students Day. 

“I did have some hybrid classes, which were amazing because I got to meet some professors face to face,” Barreiros said. “It was so much fun getting to meet new people, going out there and liv[ing] somewhat of a normal life.”

“Don’t ever underwork. Always do your best [and] give your best potential because it ends up paying off in the end, and you make yourself look better as a student.”

Barreiros, who is a member of the Rider Dance Ensemble, is currently pursuing bachelor’s degrees in elementary education and dance studios.

“I love being a double major because it is both things that I love to do. It is a lot of work, but if you time manage it [gets] easier,” Barreiros said.

Former senior editor Alexa Maddi is majoring in journalism at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She said she was attracted to Emerson because it has a strong journalism program and is a small school with under 4,000 undergraduates. She said there is a sense of community at Emerson that is missing at larger schools. 

Maddi said despite the pandemic, she does not regret her decision to spend her freshman year dorming on campus.

“College is very different when you dorm because you are completely independent and on your own,” Maddi said. “You meet so many new people and learn more about yourself as a person.”

Maddi said her experiences at The Lighthouse during her junior and senior years inspired her to become a journalist. She said it taught how to propose article ideas and instilled in her rules that she uses when writing for her school’s magazine The Intersectionalist, where she reports on topics related to social justice and marginalized communities. 

“I went into journalism because of The Lighthouse…. I loved making new connections and interviewing people,” Maddi said. “The Lighthouse really prepared me for my classes.” 

Maddi encouraged students to keep an open mind when applying to colleges.

”Everything will work the way it’s supposed to. You just have to believe that,” said Maddi.


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