The summer before she came to UMass Lowell, honors student Adeja Crearer, a first-generation college student from Piscataway, N.J., was having serious doubts about whether she wanted to become a criminal prosecutor.
So she talked to one of her closest confidants: her mom.
“My mom said, ‘I could see you being a TV reporter,’” she says. “It was a ‘Duh!’ moment. It was a perfect match for everything I’m interested in and had done my entire life.”
Instead of majoring in criminal justice and minoring in legal studies, she decided to major in English with a journalism concentration. Four years later, she’s also picked up minors in political science and digital media—and she’s as comfortable behind a video camera as she is in front of one.
Crearer already has lots of hands-on media experience, thanks to three programs offered through the university’s partnership with The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC), starting with a semester in Washington studying communications law and ethics with editors at The Associated Press and interning at a small video production company.
She went on to intern with Agence France-Presse TV during a two-week program at the Democratic National Convention in summer 2016 and to snap Donald Trump’s inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington for the university’s Snapchat account during an inauguration seminar in January 2017. Now she works in the University Relations office as a social media assistant.
“I’m happy I chose UMass Lowell, because my professors alert me to opportunities and the dean of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences supports the activities I’m interested in,” she says.
The Honors College also gave her the flexibility to apply credits from TWC internships to some of her honors requirements, she says.
Now she’s working on a documentary on college students’ attitudes about race as her final honors project. Both of Crearer’s parents are Jamaican immigrants, but her mother is of mixed background, and although Crearer identifies as African-American, many people mistake her for white.
That’s given her a unique window onto her white contemporaries’ attitudes about race, which she believes are less the result of malice than from ignorance of the everyday experiences of minorities, starting with how parents teach their children about how to respond when police stop and question them. She’s decided she has a responsibility to educate her peers.
“White college students say, ‘I don’t think about race. I don’t see race.’ But they should see race, because it affects people’s experience,” she says. “I think we need to talk about race and stop ignoring it or sugarcoating it.”