Ten days ago, 36 students from all around the United States boarded planes, trains, and cars to come to the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. Leaving our homes behind, we felt a strange mix of excitement and anxiety at what the next 10 days would hold. Looking back at passionate debates, inside jokes, and learning more—and sleeping less—than any reasonable person can squeeze into a week and a half, we have built a home among each other.
PSJP is a unique experience. Students come from states ranging from Alaska to Florida, each bringing a unique story waiting to be heard. Our striking curiosity, love for challenges, and resilience— along with the passion and talent of the staff—transform the classroom into a learning paradise. Journalism is a field built on trust and honor, and that same feeling prevails within everyone in the program. On the first day, we were complete strangers, but we became more than acquaintances or friends—we became a family. A family that will provide each other with the emotional support they need in order to complete the odyssey of college applications. A family that will send each other memes, cat pictures, and gossip in the group chat. A family that will stay strong even if there are hundreds of miles in between them. This program is a treasure that everyone will keep forever.
PSJP is not about where we come from—it’s about giving students the opportunity to learn and thrive. Here, we are not just low-income students: We are writers learning investigative journalism, crime reporting, and topics such as sports and entertainment. We are people who are not afraid to take a stand. At PSJP, we learned to flourish and to not allow societal stereotypes to define or discourage us. From traveling to three states, to talking to strangers on the street, every experience was transformative, and helped us grow stronger. The road to college is stressful, but having a counselor to encourage and guide us makes students feel supported. No matter the obstacle, we will always have our army of counselors rooting for us.
However, not everything about PSJP is sweet. Time management is a huge issue. When the clock hits midnight, students are just walking back to their dorms, carrying with them an aura of exhaustion. There’s not enough time to explore the Princeton campus, meals are too close together, and there’s not enough time to cover every topic. But these are small tradeoffs for the experience of a lifetime.
By the end of the program, students leave as different people. We return to where we came from, but the effects of the relationships we built at Princeton will be everlasting.