Former editor and arts editor Megan Szostak reflects on her influence, the legacy of the Class of 2022

Editor’s note: The Daily’s editorial department acknowledges that this article is based on a conflict of interest. This article is a special feature for Commencement 2022 which does not represent the Daily’s standard journalistic practices.

A former executive arts editor and former editor of the Daily, Senior Megan Szostak, sat down with Maeve Hagerty, the current arts editor, in a Zoom interview on April 15 to reflect on her experiences at The Daily and with the arts on campus. Majoring in sociology, double minoring in music and medieval studies, Szostak’s presence at The Daily has been characterized by his mentorship, journalistic integrity, and an empathetic leadership style that has been responsible, at least for this author, for creating a welcoming community within the Daily. and the arts section in particular.

Szostak made her Daily debut as a columnist in the spring of her freshman year, writing about classical music history in her “Lisztomania” column.

She explained that her rise to Executive Arts Writer was due to her growing passion for writing about the arts, which ultimately inspired her to join the section and apply to become Executive Arts Writer at the end of her term. second year.

For Szostak, being an arts writer was so special because “you don’t get assigned stories that maybe you’re not passionate about. Every story that’s featured is presented by someone who’s so passionate about what they’re about to write.

Additionally, as an arts editor, she felt that one of her favorite parts of the role was “reading the writing that’s just voice-heavy and filled with passion.”

However, her experience as an executive arts writer has been marred by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the arts at Tufts, as well as the arts more broadly. Szostak described some of the challenges of being the Executive Art Editor in Fall 2020, the first full semester at Tufts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the biggest losses of the pandemic has been the loss of live arts events,” Szostak said. “There were no in-person exhibits. There were no plays. There were no concerts.

Additionally, Szostak noted how difficult it was, as an editor, to motivate her chapter to attend virtual arts events, as opposed to traditional live events.

Szostak and the rest of her class are the latest class from Tufts to get a full year of life on campus before the pandemic. However, when asked if she’s noticed any changes to the arts scene at Tufts now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, Szostak noted that the arts seem no less vibrant.

“I think there were definitely losses,” Szostak admitted. “Students were not allowed to sing or play wind and brass [instruments] for a while due to restrictions. And it was a great loss for the talent of all these students, of all these musicians, but also for the community which could not hear a choir concert or could not hear a wind ensemble concert.

Additionally, Szostak commented on the ingenuity required of many groups on campus to keep the arts alive.

“Different groups of students have been very creative in how they have been able to continue to produce art and deliver music, drama, visual art through different media than what they were delivering. before the pandemic,” Szostak said.

Szostak reflected on the unique position of his senior class, commenting on how, because they had experienced a year and a half of normalcy at Tufts, his grade felt the burden of the pandemic changes at Tufts very deeply.

“But that just means we feel the resurrection of the arts all the more, because we felt the loss,” Szostak explained. “We knew what it was, we knew what we were missing. So now, every time we hear someone sing, we realize how much we’ve missed it and how much it means to be able to hear it again.

As she then spoke of her role as editor with genuine humility, Szostak revealed another element of what made her such an influential figure within the Daily: the people she worked with.

“I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with people who you know will support you and who you can offer support in doing their job,” she said. “Without them, I think the successes I’ve had wouldn’t have been as great as they have been.”

Szostak returned to her love of classical music, the driving force behind her debut writing for the Daily, and her motivation to join the Tufts Symphony Orchestra as a violist.

She reflected on the content of her freshman Lisztomania column.

“I wish I had dug a little deeper to find composers who didn’t fit the mold of what a classical musician or a classical composer looked like…throughout so much history,” Szostak said.

Speaking of the legacy she will leave behind, she was especially proud of her role as Vice President of TSO and how she and the rest of the Board have worked to “increase representation in music that we perform, in the music that our ensemble chooses to include in our concerts, which I think was a really wonderful thing.

Szostak spoke forcefully when discussing the changes that have taken place within TSO, emphasizing how important it was for her to witness TSO’s focus on representation and inclusion within Arts.

“Seeing how the orchestra has changed alongside this national, international movement to increase representation in the arts and in that art is shared, whose voices are heard, whose music is heard, I think it was a really special thing to be a part of,” Szostak said.

Szostak talked about starting his new life after the start.

“I feel so ready for the next chapter,” admitted Szostak. “But also, it’s hard to leave a community that supports you and has supported you for four years. … I think those are sentiments shared by many senior graduates.

Watching seniors like Szostak, who left such an incredible mark on Tufts and the students here, graduate and move on is definitely a bittersweet moment. The contributions and legacy of Szostak and the rest of his senior class have been essential to Tufts’ return to normalcy, and they will certainly continue to influence Tufts arts and culture for years to come.

Szostak closed the interview by stating that “there has been a lot of loss in the arts and in their practice and performance on campus, just because of COVID. There have been many other losses, immeasurable losses, due to COVID.

But for her, those losses weren’t what defined her class or her time at Tufts; rather, Szostak pointed to the growth that has resulted from such a loss.

“We learned ways to be creative,” she says. “We’ve learned ways to bring new voices into the repertoire, and I think that’s such an important thing that maybe wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

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