As editor-in-chief of Basement Medicine, the Johnson campus student newspaper, Tom Benton ’14 assigned stories, guided the staff, and laid out each issue of the biweekly publication. That prepared him well for his journalism career, and he’s now a reporter for the St. Albans Messenger.
“Basement Medicine was exactly like any newsroom I’ve been in,” he says. “It’s all about the real-life learning experience.”
As a student, Tom, a journalism major, had other hands-on opportunities to build the skills he would need to stand out in his field. He wrote articles as an intern with the Stowe Reporter and covered the Woodbury town meeting one year for the Hardwick Gazette. “That was excellent firsthand experience with deadlines and basic journalistic things like that,” he says.
Small Classes Help Students Succeed at NVU
His time inside the classroom also has been valuable for his career.
With the small class sizes, “There’s no choice but to interact. The end result of that in every case was always beneficial,” says Tom, who lives in St. Albans. “When you’re interacting with an educator there, it’s more than one-on-one. It’s like an interview that goes both ways.”
In classes, students and faculty can develop close relationships. “If you have one person talking to eight or 10 or 15 people, that can actually be a conversation. That’s a big difference from a lecture hall,” Tom says.
Student-Faculty Relationships Have Lasting Impacts
He credits associate professor Tyrone Shaw’s influence with guiding him professionally and in his personal life.
“He taught me to really pay attention to what I was doing but to have fun doing it. That was a marriage of concepts I hadn’t experienced prior to Tyrone, the idea that you can work hard at what you do, but you can also have the time of your life doing it,” Tom says. “You can approach it that way but still be professional and driven.”
That’s Tom’s approach in his work at the St. Albans Messenger, a position he got partly through the journalism experience he gained and the connections he made as a student. As one of two staff reporters at the six-day-a-week newspaper, he covers government, courts, crime, and features, mostly in Enosburgh, Swanton, and St. Albans.
He Draws on Experiences to Stand Out in His Career
“My greatest career accomplishment is being able to enter those communities, focus on my work, enjoy it, and develop relationships that allow me to work in an effective way,” Tom says. “The most rewarding thing is the trust people give to me as someone they don’t know and the ability to get to know them from a perspective that even people they’re close to might not have.”