Meet Isabel Vega — She Makes Journalism Look Good

She might only be in her sophomore year, but she is already a force to be reckoned with on and off campus. Isabel Vega is a Journalism and Professional Writing major at The College of New Jersey. She has a heart of gold and a driven personality that can’t be beat. She held a top editor position at The Signal, TCNJ’s premiere student-run paper, during her second semester of college ever, she rushed a sorority and has already made enough sisters and memories to last a lifetime, and she travels from New Jersey to Chicago, Illinois (where is family is) during breaks from school and in her free time. I had the opportunity to sit down with Vega and ask her some questions about her time here at TCNJ!

What made you want to come to TCNJ?

I visited TCNJ for the first time the summer going into my senior year and immediately fell in love with the beauty of the campus and the closeness of their community. I was invited back for their “Multicultural Reception Lunch” that summer as I come from a Hispanic background. This was a lunch in which potential new students from various different cultures and backgrounds could come together to learn about all the different opportunities TCNJ has to offer. This was what truly sold me. I met so many motivated and inspiring people; from professors, prospective students, and admissions counselors. I knew then that TCNJ would be a place I would truly thrive in, and decided to apply early decision to the College. 

You’re a Journalism and Professional Writing major. Where did your interest in that field stem from? At this point in your life, what would you like to do with that upon graduation?

My interest in journalism stems from the negative connotation media possesses in our world today. There’s so much negativity surrounding these ideas of “fake news” and journalism being a “dying field.” This stigma around the press and media outlets has contributed to the dividing of our nation in ways that are difficult to understand. My passion for journalism comes from my desire to report on facts, remain unbiased in my writing and editing, and the overall power a media outlet possesses, a power that has to be utilized with caution. Journalism is a crucial aspect of our world and I would love to take part in that business and rebrand what it means to be a “journalist.”  Currently I am interested in becoming a broadcast journalist, writing and reporting on my own stories, and announcing them on live television. There is so much that can be done with a journalism degree, I’m excited to experience all the possibilities. 

Being an editor at The Signal is just some of what you do on campus throughout the year. How did you get involved with The Signal and can you tell me what your position(s) have entailed thus far?

Getting involved in The Signal has been the best decision I’ve made in my college career so far. I first got involved as a staff writer the beginning of my freshman year. I wrote mainly feature articles and a couple of opinion pieces. That Spring, I ran for Opinions Editor and got the position. This was considered an “entry level position” but still required a lot of work on my end and late nights at the office. I was responsible for coming up with different article topics each week and recruiting at least two writers for them. I was also responsible for running the “Man on the Street” page, meaning I had to interview staff and students around campus for their opinions on that certain article topic. Every Monday at 5pm are The Signal production nights. All the section editors get together to place their pieces in a software we use called In-Design. My first few issues I stayed very late, sometimes until 3am, making sure everything lined up perfectly on the page and there were no issues, as time went on I got more comfortable with the software and started getting my pages done earlier. This year, I am one of the two News Editors for the paper. This is a big role as I’m now looking for multiple writers a week and placing various pages, including the front page. It’s  a lot of work (and time consuming), but I love it. The Signal has offered me many opportunities to strengthen my writing, reporting, and editing skills. It has also given me a strong sense of what it would be like to work at a news organization. 

Do you have a favorite piece of writing that you have done in college, either for The Signal or elsewhere? What was it about / where did you draw inspiration from it?

My favorite piece of writing I’ve done so far was my editorial for the Signal titled, Home Is A Mindset, Not A Location. This story was about the four major moves I’ve experienced in my life. The most recent one being my move to Chicago from a small town in North Jersey last summer. In the piece I expressed the mix of emotions I felt every time my family moved, the challenges I had to overcome, and the overall sense of anxiety and stress that came with moving to the midwest right before I had to move into college for my first year. The piece also talks about when and how I changed my mindset about the whole situation. I soon came to realize that home is not a specific location on a map, it is where the ones you love are. The lesson I wanted to highlight in my editorial is bits of your heart are everywhere, meaning you never have only one home. For me, I am extremely grateful for that. 

Another exciting aspect of your TCNJ experience has been becoming an Alpha Xi Delta sister. What is the biggest thing you have taken away from being apart of Greek Life?

I decided to rush the second semester of my freshman year so that I could meet more people and further my involvement at TCNJ. Having two brothers, I felt my life was missing that sense of sisterhood. After the first round of recruitment I felt welcomed and comfortable with Alpha Xi Delta right away. My biggest take away from being involved in greek life so far, is that it has taught me to never pass up a leadership opportunity, time management skills, how to be charitable, the importance of networking, and overall, has made me well-rounded. I hope the stigma around greek life diminishes as it has so much more to offer to your life than people may think.

In your eyes, how important is being involved on campus?

I believe that being involved on campus is critical. My advice to any incoming student is to go to the activity fairs and see what’s available to you. TCNJ may be on the smaller side, but the possibilities and opportunities here are truly endless. Being involved on campus will allow you to expand your social circle, learn what you like and what you don’t like, keep you busy, open your eyes to new ideas, and contribute to who you are – and who you become. 

Outside of your major and your on campus activities, what are you favorite things to do / interests / hobbies? 

Some of my favorite things to do in my free time include spending time with the people I’m closest to. I remain great friends with a lot of the people from my freshman floor. When we all have the time we like to go for drives, get together and watch a movie, get meals together, or just sit in one of our rooms catching up on each other’s lives and talking about our days. I also enjoy taking the time to myself when I can, listening to music or watching my favorite show. I do have a lot of interest in music. I started piano lessons when I was nine and I have been involved in theater, a cappella groups, and choirs since elementary school. It’s been difficult to make the time for those things at TCNJ, but I plan to get involved with an A cappella group on campus this semester! 

Vega is kind, outgoing, stylish, and passionate about everything she does – even when what she is doing requires long nights of writing and editing. Between her stellar personality, tough as nails work ethic, and clear career goals in mind, I’m sure success is not just in her future, but right around the corner.