Behind the Desk: Serving a greater purpose

Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

I used to be an incredibly shy person. I’ve been told that, as a young child, my first reaction when encountering unfamiliar adults was to cry, refuse to speak or hide behind the safety of my mom’s legs — or all three. I’m not exactly sure why I was like this. Perhaps it was because I didn’t like being at the center of anyone’s attention, nor did I enjoy being prodded by questions from doting adults, but meeting new people just seemed like such a daunting task that I avoided it at all costs.


Though I eventually grew out of this phase, my tendency to remain quiet and reserved prevailed. For a long time, I found comfort in taking a more passive approach on most things; I listened and kept observations to myself instead of asking pressing questions or attempting to find answers. It all drew back to my childhood predisposition of fearing the other, the unfamiliar. Though I was no longer afraid of it, I acknowledged it just before the point of actually engaging with it.


Fast forward to today, and I can confidently say I am a completely different person. I really do love talking to strangers, and I’m constantly asking others questions of “why” or “how” in hopes to understand the bigger picture of whatever is at hand. I’m no longer the timid little girl who ran away from unfamiliar faces or refused to speak when confronted with new conversation. And while some of this change can be attributed to time and maturity, sure, my shift in character and how I carry myself can be largely attributed to discovering my love for journalism. I joined my high school’s newspaper during my sophomore year and have been involved in campus publications and various reporting internships ever since.


Put simply, journalism has given me the confidence and skills I never knew I lacked until they had already become second-nature. It emboldened me to talk to people I would normally have no business speaking to, and the constant demand to interview complete strangers about potentially any topic helped me develop the fearlessness to strike up conversation with anyone, whether it be a head coach, distinguished professor or school administrator. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that everyone has a story to share if you ask the right questions.


Consequently, journalism has allowed me to get used to asking tough questions and expecting answers in return. I can hold people accountable, and I don’t need their permission to do so. I’m not afraid to ask questions that others might assume would put them in an uncomfortable situation, because if I don’t ask them, then who will?  


Getting used to thinking on your feet comes naturally in a fast-paced news environment, and journalism has taught me again and again the importance of  meeting deadlines and performing under pressure. However, even when my stress levels are high and my hours of sleep are low, my passion for journalism remains.


I think the reasoning behind my sense of confidence lies in the fact that I believe journalism serves a greater purpose, beyond myself. I love the craft not only because it’s led me to become more well-spoken, well-written and well-informed, but also because I see it as a commitment to inform the public and advocate for those who do not have a voice. Journalism is a platform that I can call my own.


Just as my early experiences with journalism emboldened my character throughout high school, it has also supported me in the next chapter of my life: college. Through working at the Daily Trojan, I’ve acquired the confidence and knowledge to dive into the vast world that is USC without looking back. What better way is there to acclimate to campus life than by reporting on it?


The Daily Trojan has become my home, my family, and where I spend almost every evening — glued to a huge Mac in the top floor of the Student Union building until late hours of the night. I spend more time in the newsroom than I do my apartment, and willingly so. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else other than surrounded by people who I’ve come to appreciate as incredible journalists, colleagues and — most importantly — close friends.