In a recent interview, fifth-year journalism student Irvin Chang reflects on his experiences and memories from his time at Northeastern. Though the pandemic drastically changed Chang's last couple of years in school, his interview highlights how much he has valued his time at Northeastern through his experiences and how he has grown as a person.
Growing up, Chang had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. Initially, he had wanted to become an NBA player, but that slowly faded once he stopped growing at around 5'9 after 8th grade. He figured that, since he couldn't play, he would write about sports instead. However, while in college, Chang realized he didn't care that much about sports journalism and found a passion for reporting on vulnerable communities (South-East Asian communities, Black communities, etc.) instead.
"What I have realized is that the industry lacks enough persons of color who are willing to push past all the nonsense that is being directed at us, and just report on issues concerning our own communities. There are huge barriers for journalists of color today, and I just want to make it so that I can get through those, and possibly open the way for somebody else as others have tried or are trying to do for me."
As a journalism major, much of Chang's personal growth was facilitated through his peers and the experiences he's had as a journalist. Chang explains that studying journalism allowed him to grow as it forced him to "embrace uncomfortable situations and meet people that he (I) otherwise might not have met." Regarding his peers, Chang explains that their stories and ideas shaped his views on race, gender, and other intersectional issues.
Being in Boston has also been a shift for Chang, originally from the West Coast. The positives, he explains, are the easily accessible transportation, the beautiful Boston autumns, and the small businesses in the city—his restaurant recommendations are House of Siam located on 542 Columbus Ave, and Crave Chinatown on 75 Kneeland St—"I liked connecting with the store owners," says Chang. "Especially when COVID hit, I was going out and giving money to a few of the restaurants to help keep their businesses going."
From traveling to Australia for N.U.in in 2016 to going to Cuba to report on the Chinese population in Havana, Chang ponders on his travels through Northeastern as they allowed him to "see the world and to open myself up to different cultural perspectives that I would've never understood, or been exposed to." Whether it be finding a sense of maturity in Australia or reporting in a foreign country, Chang appreciates his experiences: "I've been forced into different situations that ultimately push me to be uncomfortable, which has led me to the best growth and best experiences."
Speaking to journalism students, or any similar major, Chang advises that students find mentors and people that are not only going to be honest with you about your talent but also about when you need to get your work done. On a more general level, Chang highlights the importance of self-appreciation: "students finding what truly matters for what will improve their self-confidence...because ultimately that's what's going to drive their ability to get a job in whatever field and just overall be happy with themselves."
As of now, the future remains uncertain for Chang. Though it would be ideal for him to go into either political or grassroots community reporting, Chang is accepting of the challenges that will come with finding work as a journalist. "I can't really give you anything concrete because I don't have anything but hopefully I'll get there and if not I'm ok with sitting around in the meantime and figuring myself out. Even if that means working a menial part-time job."