Speaking Freely: Q+A with Sahtrese McQueen '24

Antonia Gentile
January 31, 2024
Pace University's Media, Communications, and Visual Arts student Sahtrese McQueen

Sahtrese McQueen

Class of 2024

Digital Journalism, BS

Through an initiative with The Center for Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) at Pace, Sahtrese McQueen recently presented research to leaders from across higher education at the annual conference of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), research entitled, Analysis on Controversial Topics and Threats on Freedom of the Press in Case Study on Pace University’s Student Newspaper.

Please tell us more about your research and how this experience was meaningful to you.

I received the Provost Office’s Student-Faculty Summer 2023 Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Award after being encouraged by my professor Kate Fink, PhD, to dig deeper into our university’s student newspaper archives. What immediately drew my interest were the headlines that discussed taboo issues surrounding young adults, as well as events that influenced the recent decade, and I enjoyed reading how the student paper dealt with such impactful stories. As I researched previous decades, I saw a difference in how controversial topics were discussed in our student’s media, which brought me to analyze how our student press interacted with administration and the effects of that.

The experience of presenting this research at Middle States was so amazing. I was not only able to speak freely and converse with others interested in my topic, but also see how other student presenters’ projects opened up my own views on so many topics. I am happy and proud to have been part of a space where we were all celebrated for our work.

How did you become interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Digital Journalism?

Since high school, I have had an interest in media and being able to explain a complex topic in a way that is understandable for everyone. Journalists have an important duty to the public to present information that gives them the tools to move in a direction that benefits society as a whole. Also, I believe in having a platform where people from all aspects of society can share in a formal, respectful way. Human progress occurs through discussion, listening, and finding common ground in our experiences, and the news is where this fits naturally. I also love the versatility of the program at Pace; we don’t focus on one kind of media, but all aspects of news production, which feels as if I’m always learning something new.

Why did you choose to attend Pace?

Pace has multiple campuses and opportunities that piqued my interests and helped me feel as if I could experience college in very different ways within four years. I spent my first two years as a student on the New York City campus, and it was well worth it. I then transferred to the Pleasantville campus, for the digital journalism major, and surprisingly found that I liked it even more. It’s unique to be able to experience two very different campuses at the same institution.

As students, the ability to build skills that will help us better interact with the world around us is one of the key factors of our educational success.

What have your experiences been like with the Media, Communications, and Visual Arts Department?

The MCVA department is unlike any other I have been a part of at Pace. It has been a comfort to return each semester, and I can only describe my major as a cozy community where we all push each other to become better. In the classroom, students don’t just do what is expected of the curriculum, but actually interact with our classmates, our peers, the Pace community as a whole, and sometimes even further than that. There is a focus on academic growth, but personal growth as well. As students, the ability to build skills that will help us better interact with the world around us is one of the key factors of our educational success, and what is more important in journalism than community?

What other activities and student organizations have you been involved with?

Since the start of the academic year, I have been the news editor and senator for the Pace Chronicle, our campus newspaper, and I’m also a member of the Knitting and Crochet Club, serving as social media manager beginning in spring 2023. As someone who began college during the social isolation of the COVID pandemic, I’m happy that I now have the chance to more fully experience what Pace has to offer.

What internships have you had as a student?

The first was with Pleasantville Community TV (PCTV), a local television station, where I worked with its president and helped make my own series on community topics. I’ve also been an assistant on a faculty-led research project with Professor Kate Fink, who later became my mentor for the Summer Research Program mentioned earlier. It has been so easy to get involved with internships and opportunities on the Pleasantville campus, which I am very grateful for. Further, they have all been related to my interests in one way or another, giving me real work and learning experience I can use in the future.

What would you like to do upon graduation/what are your career goals?

I am looking to attend graduate school and give myself the chance to grow and learn more about the workings of media, production, and journalism, and see where that path takes me. I think it’s important to stay on top of my craft and be versatile; I’d love to continue working with various aspects of the creation of digital news, so I can be both in front of and behind the camera. I have always felt I was a bit of a floater, and I see myself going many places with a career in journalism.

What advice would you like to give to our current students?

More than anything, stay true to who you know yourself to be and value. If college is your vehicle to get there, then put your all into it. Feel comfort from the inevitability of time passing and take as much of it as you want to figure out what you need to succeed by your own standard. When you trust yourself, which means taking care of yourself, whatever path you are meant to be on will find you and you’ll get there with everything you need. Also, go to events, say yes more than no, stick to a reasonable schedule, take advantage of what Pace has to offer, put yourself out there, and make the best of every moment!