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Alumni Spotlight: Joseph Wolkin, an aspiring journalist

Grandma is a new childrens book written and published by WJPS alumni Joseph Wolkin, written in honor of his late grandmother. He is a distinguished freelance journalist currently pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in English, and is a future journalism major come the fall 2015 semester. He can be reached on twitter @JosephNASCAR. Photo is the cover of Joseph Wolkin’s book.
Grandma is a new childrens book written and published by WJPS alumni Joseph Wolkin, written in honor of his late grandmother. He is a distinguished freelance journalist currently pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in English, and is a future journalism major come the fall 2015 semester. He can be reached on twitter @JosephNASCAR. Photo is the cover of Joseph Wolkin’s book.

by Faith Chojar, staff reporter

Grandma is a new childrens book written and published by WJPS alumni Joseph Wolkin, written in honor of his late grandmother. He is a distinguished freelance journalist currently pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in English, and is a future journalism major come the fall 2015 semester. He can be reached on twitter @JosephNASCAR. Photo is the cover of Joseph Wolkin’s book.
Grandma is a new childrens book written and published by WJPS alumni Joseph Wolkin, written in honor of his late grandmother. He is a distinguished freelance journalist currently pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in English, and is a future journalism major come the fall 2015 semester. He can be reached on twitter @JosephNASCAR. Photo is the cover of Joseph Wolkin’s book.

 

When did you graduate WJPS?

I graduated from WJPS in June of 2013.

Where do you attend school now?

I currently go to Queensborough Community College, and I am graduating in May.

What are your future plans for schooling?

For the Fall 2015 semester, I will be transferring to Stony Brook University.

What are you studying?

Currently, I am a Liberal Arts major with an English concentration. However, my major will be Journalism after I receive my Associate’s Degree.

How different is college life than high school life in your experiences?

College life is incredibly different from high school. Though there is a lot less homework, you have more essays and long-form projects to work on. Making your own schedule is one of the great benefits of attending college. High school was tough for me, especially with all the cliques within a small school. However, in college, there are more opportunities to meet people with similar interests, and that really opens plenty of doors to help make your life better.

Where do you work?

I work for multiple publications as a freelance journalist. I am a Senior Writer for Frontstretch.com, a contributor to NASCAR Pole Position magazine on a weekly basis online, along with a monthly feature in its print edition. Along with those two main sites, I am the main editor and copyeditor for the Queensborough Community College newspaper, The Communique, and I work for a few other NASCAR sites when I have the time to do so.

Why did you decide to continue a career in journalism?

It kind of happened out of no where. I took a media class in 10th grade, and the teacher I had at the time said he saw something rare in me. I began to write for The Blazer, and continued to grow as a writer. Originally, it was just for fun, but then I realized that this was my passion and I could have a very big feature in it.

What is your recent accomplishment?

I would say my most recent accomplishment is having my book published at just 19 years old. It was something that I always wanted to do, but seemed difficult to do so. But it was actually a pretty simple process, which I am extremely proud of. However, my journalism is what comes first, and I have been able to break stories before national reporters, so that is always pretty awesome.

What’s your book about?

My book is about my experience with my grandma. We were extremely close for several years, but I did not appreciate her presence until I was older, which is something I truly regret. The book speaks about how children need to show appreciation for their grandparents, and they can really make a difference in your life. It shows that when a grandparent is sick, the grandchildren can make their condition better by putting a smile on their face.

Why did you write it?

Over the past few years that my grandma’s condition was deteriorating, she always said she wanted to write a book. She never was able to accomplish that goal, but I figured, “why not do it for her?”

After debating what my first book should be about, I decided this was what I wanted to do. I was going to write a chapter book, but I wasn’t ready as a writer to do that yet. I wanted to polish my writing a bit before I did that, which I plan on doing by the summer. Until then, this was the best thing I could do. It got my name out there a bit, and it teaches lessons for children that needs to be taught at a young age.

Do you have any advice that you would want to give to aspiring journalists?

This field will chew you up and spit you right back out. There are so many positives and negatives in journalism, and it will really drive you insane if you aren’t careful. The key to it is being yourself. If you can be yourself in an interview, you will likely reach common ground with the person you are interviewing.

Though it is extremely competitive, this is a field that one can excel in if they are good enough. A journalist is someone that goes out into the world and reports on news – giving people those juicy stories that aren’t out there already. You need to break out of your shell in this field.

When I first started, I couldn’t interview anyone face-to-face to save my life, but over time, things became a lot easier for me. I have interviewed some of the biggest names in the motorsports world, including Mario Andretti and Richard Petty. You can do things in this field that no one else has the opportunity to do, and that’s what makes it special.

Grandma is a new childrens book written and published by WJPS alumni Joseph Wolkin, written in honor of his late grandmother. He is a distinguished freelance journalist currently pursuing a liberal arts degree with a concentration in English, and is a future journalism major come the fall 2015 semester. He can be reached on twitter @JosephNASCAR. Photo is the cover of Joseph Wolkin’s book.

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