September 23, 2019

Perfect Semester Kickoff: Book Talk and New Connections

By Madeline Rathle, NYUSPS MS in Publishing student and PSA Events Coordinator

On a beautiful fall Saturday, what could be better than hanging out in New York’s Central Park, munching on veggies and chips and talking about books? That’s what happened at a picnic to kick off the NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media program’s fall semester. The Welcome Back Picnic was hosted by the program’s Publishing Students Association (PSA). This annual event has become an engaging way to introduce incoming students to the program and help them meet current students and alumni. Getting to know other members of the program at the beginning of the semester is important because it makes new students feel like they are part of a community.

One way the PSA works to empower and involve students is by implementing a mentor program. The officers of the organization pair incoming students with a current student or alumni who can guide them through the logistics of being in the publishing program. At the picnic, the mentors and mentees were able to meet and chat about the program.

I cannot say enough good things about the mentor program. Because of it, I was able not only to make a great friend, but to calm my fears during course registration, find out which classes might help me most along my career path, and have a person I could trust with any questions I had about the program.

Emily Arzeno, a student in the program, had a similar experience. "I thought it would be a fun opportunity to meet someone already in the program, and the experience turned out to be super helpful," Arzeno said. "I was able to ask my mentor questions about the program and about her job in the industry. It’s a great way to network with students who already have a foot in the door of the publishing industry!"

Along with meeting mentors and mentees, the picnic was an opportunity to discuss our first PSA book club title, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Georgina Graham, the PSA president, presented an overview, explaining that this book is about a teenage girl from the Dominican Republic living in Harlem who is struggling with religion, her relationship with her mother, and what her family and culture expect of her.

The book cover of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is shown in the forefront with 3 seated students in the background.

"The Poet X is such an important book right now, and I was glad we got to discuss it as a group," said Elizabeth Sellers, vice president of the PSA. "The themes are relevant to our members, and reading authors like Acevedo can have a meaningful impact by empowering young people."

We sat in a circle and had a laid-back discussion about the themes and characters, what inspired us, and how the book made us think and feel. Everyone seemed to have been moved in some way by the book, and the group discussion brought up a lot of strong reactions. We chose this book because Acevedo is the first writer of color to win the Carnegie Medal in the 83 years of the award’s history. We felt this was a wonderful opportunity to highlight that groundbreaking accomplishment and have a lively conversation about the beautiful work. On a side note, Acevedo "liked" our post about the book club on Instagram! In the spirit of Halloween, our next book club title will be Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe.

It’s so exciting to see the eagerness of the new students as they get involved and make the PSA the best it can be. This year’s incoming class has shown genuine excitement about the upcoming year, which will allow the program to continue to grow and make positive changes in the NYU and NYC communities. This, in turn, has given new excitement to the PSA officers.

Graham hopes the PSA can be a helpful resource for the incoming students as they progress in their studies. "They’re going to have so many opportunities to explore what they’re really passionate about," she said. "I’m excited to see new and continuing students learn more about themselves and grow their skills, all while making new friends who are doing the same thing."

Publishing Students Association (PSA) Officers pictured with a large purple balloon.

We are busy planning a full roster of events for the semester, including a professional development event on November 19th (save the date!), a Halloween social, and a volunteer opportunity reading to children in the city. So, to all our fellow students, new and continuing, welcome and welcome back from the PSA!

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