Twelve seconds changed Melissa Proulx’s life.
Twelve seconds. That’s how much time passed between the detonation of the first and the second bomb at last year’s Boston Marathon. Proulx ’15 wasn’t impacted the way the victims were. She wasn’t injured. But she was changed.
Before coming to UNH in 2012, Proulx had gone to school in Boston for a year. She knew the area. She could envision the finish line. The bombing hit home.
“I became obsessed with the news,” she says. “I read everything I could get my hands on; I watched every television broadcast. And I knew that (being a journalist) was what I wanted to do.”
Proulx was so inspired she switched her major from English teaching to journalism and set out to gain as much experience as she could. Realizing she “needed to take the initiative to make things happen,” she contacted the executive editor of the Portsmouth Herald and told him that she didn’t have any experience as a reporter but she was eager to learn. That landed her a job at the Exeter Newsletter, one of the Herald’s weekly papers.
“And I’ve been hooked ever since. It was very eye-opening,” Proulx says. “I was pretty shy before then. It (reporting) helped me come out of my shell.”
In the fall of 2013, Proulx started attending writing meetings with other contributors to The New Hampshire (TNH), UNH’s student newspaper. Not long after she became a staff writer, covering the police beat.
“That was another diving into the deep-end experience. It introduced me to a new type of journalism,” she says.
Next the Exeter resident got to try her hand at business writing at the New Hampshire Business Review after securing an internship through the Center on Social Innovation and Finance at the Carsey School of Public Policy. One of about a dozen 2014 Carsey interns, Proulx spent eight weeks this summer working at the biweekly newspaper.
“Most Carsey Social Innovation interns were placed with organizations that have innovative business approaches to solving social and environmental problems. Melissa's internship was unique because it showed how ecosystem–level factors like media and culture are critical to the spread and impact of these new change models," says Yusi Wang Turell, executive director, Center on Social Innovation and Finance.
Now that school has started, Proulx is back writing for TNH. She also is handling social media for Seacoast Weddings Magazine and the design firm Brown and Co. of Portsmouth. She even entered an essay contest for aspiring journalists sponsored by AutoTrader500 and won, earning an interview with NASCAR driver Joey Logano.
“What excites me is news but at this point I still want to try anything. I’m interested in learning as many different skills as I can,” Proulx says. “All of these experiences have opened my eyes up to the world. If I’ve learned anything it’s that it never hurts to ask, and to say yes to everything.”