Worcester State University student Madison Friend leads a New Worcester Spy editorial board meeting.

Scholarship Helps Senior Pursue Passion for Writing

April 5, 2016
By: Kim Caisse

Senior Madison Friend is exploring her passion for writing full tilt as the executive editor of the New Worcester Spy and staff member at two college writing centers—all thanks to receiving a Worcester State Foundation scholarship her junior year.

“The scholarship I got is what enabled me to take the first class I needed to work at the Spy. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the books,” explains Friend, who received the Corrine Bostic Memorial Scholarship. “That’s when I met Jen Johnson and Patrick Driscoll. Since then, we’ve redesigned the website and we instituted this whole new copy flow process and editorial board meetings.”

Those are just two examples of what the Spy staff has been busy doing since that fateful day in Assistant Professor of English Cleve Wiese’s Advanced News Writing class. The most recent addition is the Spy’s Worcester Art Museum section, which is the result of a new partnership between the online news and literary magazine’s staff and the museum.

Finding the Right Niche

“When the three of us took it over, the staff was publishing it twice a month,” Friend says. “But then we started selling it as a student newspaper and a way to serve the community and give students news in a perspective that they can understand.”

The trio also took a strategic look at where the Spy could fit into Worcester’s media landscape. “Media in Worcester isn’t very youth-oriented,” she says. “We also looked at all the other college publications to do a competitive analysis and decided we could do anything.”

To implement their vision to publish stories that resonate with WSU students, the editors ask the writers, “How is this [topic, angle, etc.] relevant to Worcester and how are you going to make it relevant to the students who go here?” Friend says.

The staff is very proud of the Spy’s history and place in modern Worcester media, she says. Friend is excited about the Spy associate editor’s series on Worcester history. “We want to pay it back and acknowledge the debt we have to the first Worcester Spy,” she said.

As a Worcester native, it’s easy for Friend to offer story direction, edit final copy, and even write her own articles from this angle. “I love Worcester!” she says.

For instance, she interviewed Mayor Joseph Petty and his challenger during the last city election season and wrote a story that aligned issues the candidates promoted with what students care about as well as explained why WSU students should care about the race.

Other Writing Outlets

When she’s not in class or working on the Spy, which she is doing for course credit through an independent study, Friend is likely working in WSU’s Writing Center or Quinsigamond Community College’s Writing Center.

She began working in WSU’s Writing Center as part of the practicum associated with the English Department’s Theory and Teaching of Writing class. “That was my springboard to work in the writing center at QCC,” she adds.

Only an Hour

Spending an hour filling out the application for scholarships offered by the Worcester State Foundation was a life-changing decision for Friend. “I wouldn’t have become executive editor if I hadn’t applied for” the Bostic Scholarship because of the chain of events that followed, she says.

“For me, I didn’t have a choice,” Friend adds. “You have to try or you’re going to be charging hundreds of dollars to your credit card to buy books. I felt like I had to go for it.”

Friend, a graduate of South High School, is attending WSU on a Presidential Scholarship and state John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. But she is responsible for buying her books and supporting herself as a full-time commuter student.

“The semester before I got the Bostic Scholarship, I would have to stagger buying my books based on when I got paid,” she says.

She encourages all WSU students to fill out a scholarship application and apply for as many scholarships as possible. “Make the time,” she says. “If you make the time to go home on the weekends, make time to fill out a scholarship application. If you make the time to go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, make the time to fill out a scholarship application. It’s low risk and can give you such a high return.”

Future Plans

After graduation in May, Friend says she’s going to take a couple of months to figure out what she wants to study in graduate school and where to apply.

“I haven’t decided whether to study political science or journalism,” she says. “Then I will go get my master’s…and run for city council.”

About the Photo: Madison Friend leads a New Worcester Spy editorial board meeting.

One Comment

  1. Jenna Parker says:

    This is so wonderful. I love to read about WSU students and their successes. As an alum of Worcester State, former Spy staff, writing tutor at QCC, and classmate of Madison’s, I sincerely congratulate her on all that she has accomplished! So happy for you and all that you have done for the Spy, Madison.

    Thank you so much for writing this piece.

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