Conti: Journalism ‘Helped Me Finally Find My Place’


Noreen Chung

Samantha Conti is a four-year journalism student and the Chief Advocate’s editor-in-chief for 2022-23.

Samantha Conti, Editor-in-Chief

Journalism provides a voice to the voiceless. Journalism gives hope to the hopeless. For me, journalism provided an outlet during the lowest point in my life – and a way to help others facing the same heartbreak. 

On December 26, 2021, my life changed forever. I tore my ACL and lateral meniscus, which crushed me. I played competitive sports my whole life. Since I was 4, I had a soccer ball at my foot and a basketball in my hand. Growing up with an athletic brother and sports-crazy parents, sports were all I knew about myself – I was always known as a three-sport athlete. 

Playing collegiate sports has been my goal since I was old enough to dream. For one small band of connective tissue at the center of my knee to ruin something I’ve aspired and worked for my whole life is insane. With one wrong cut, my life felt shattered.

Journalism helped me put it back together.  

At first, journalism was a class I took freshman year to fill a credit. I was a shy underclassman who loved writing about my passion, sports. The class consisted of 10 girls. Throughout the year, we released four newspapers that we scattered around the school … but most people didn’t even know we had a school newspaper.

The next year, our program transitioned into an online publication, and the class grew into two separate classes. I was placed into the advanced class and I, still a shy underclassman, became an editor. Even as I started my junior year as the sports editor, I was ecstatic to further dive into my interest in journalism, but as a three-sport athlete, I never got the chance to dive all the way in. 

It wasn’t until I lost a huge part of my life, I was able to fully take advantage of my journalism class. 

My dad tore his ACL his senior football season, but at the time ACL injuries weren’t well researched and were considered career-ending injuries. Prior to his injury, Division I schools were considering him for a full scholarship. His dream of playing college football was crushed — and now, years later, I felt the same way. 

My journalism teacher had connections at the local newspaper and offered to the class an opportunity for one student to help generate new content for the newspaper. I was excited – for the first time since I got injured, I was hopeful about something. I took the opportunity to pitch my idea to the sports editor with the help of my teacher. 

“This series would help people,” I concluded. 

“We’ve never run anything like this before,” he replied.

Within days, I was working on my first article. The next thing I knew, I was a published writer with four columns.

Samantha Conti’s first column published in the Republican-American in January 2022. (Kyle Brennan)

Facing this injury was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and writing for the newspaper allowed me to share the process – the lows and highs – with others who needed to relate to someone. 

“Surgeons can fix me physically, but they can’t fix everything that we have missed and can’t give us back all the memories we would have made,” I wrote in my first column.

Writing allowed me to not only share my journey, but it allowed me to give others a voice to share their ACL and mental-health battles. It pushed me to reach out to others and open up to people facing similar struggles. I wanted anyone to read my column and know that they weren’t alone, and everyone has good and bad days.

“Injuries don’t define us; they are simply challenges that we must overcome,” I wrote in my last column. “Challenges teach us so many things, not just about life, but ourselves and our character. How we overcome the challenges and our attitude toward those challenges is what defines us. The biggest injuries lead to even better comebacks.”

There is no adjective to describe the importance journalism has had on not only my life but millions of other lives. Being a part of the Nonnewaug journalism program is something I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Growing up, writing was something I loved to do, but I often felt like I was missing something — like the writing I was doing wasn’t important enough. This feeling quickly disappeared once I began journalism. This program helped me finally find my place.

This is the opinion of Chief Advocate editor-in-chief Samantha Conti, a four-year journalism student and three-year editor who will attend Curry College. Read her four columns at the Republican-American by clicking here, here, here, and here.