Rejection, Failure and The New York Times

Ever since graduation, I’d been telling myself that this moment would be the perfect opportunity to try my hand at blogging.

So many changes are happening in my life right now, it’s basically calling out for documentation and reflection (even if I fear I’ll lack the eloquence and insight of an engaging blogger.)

Of course, those life changes got in the way, and a draft of this post has been sitting on my laptop for nearly two weeks.

Hopefully I’ll get better with these deadlines.


I applied to the New York Times Student Journalism Institute three times. The first two times I was rejected. This year I was finally accepted.

The first rejection was relatively easy to brush off. I was only a sophomore, I was new and green and far too untested. I’d applied with few illusions that I’d actually amount to anything. It was the New York Times. I was just learning what a lede was.

The lengthy email rejection was difficult to swallow, seemingly listing all my shortfalls and flaws. But I tried to take it in stride and tried to listen to the words of advice on how to shape myself as a young, learning journalist.

The second rejection was harder. I’d worked hard; so very hard. I thought I had a fighting chance. But yet again, a lengthy rejection letter – perhaps even the same one – was sent to my email. I still remember the moment I received it: I was sitting in a geology class, taking notes about sediment or volcanoes or some other Earth-y feature. I got the email in the middle of class and spent the rest of the time fighting tears.

The third application meant so much to me. It was simultaneously a seemingly hopeless last attempt – maybe this time they’ll like me – and a chance for me to prove to myself that I had grown into a capable journalist.


As soon as the Institute started, I hit the ground running.

Immediately I tried to pursue a story, and immediately I failed.

It was a blow to the ego, but like the first application rejection, I brushed it off. I was barely given any notice and just maybe no one in Tucson was having a Mad Men watch party for the finale.

But then cam the second rejection – the second failure. Later on in the week, I’d failed to scrounge up enough sources on a story about a bridal store’s assets being seized. Then I was tasked to write a blog post about a court case and failed to be inspired to do that as well.

I felt absolutely drained of inspiration and motivation. Everyone around me was going above and beyond, producing amazing content. Yet I let three stories slip through my fingers.

But as almost always happens, things worked out. I produced five stories about everything from the weather to chickens. We published a beautiful paper. And the major crisis in the moment became a minor challenge of yesterday that will ultimately make me a better reporter.


The Institute was challenging. It was a learning experience. It was the most exhausting two weeks of my life. But it was also one of the best weeks of my life. It was a place where I met some incredible people who I’m proud to call my journalism colleagues and even prouder to call my family.

It was a place where I experienced some lows in my journalism career, but also one where I experienced some highs.

I learned a lot of things that week and through out my entire time trying to get into the Institute: I learned to persevere. I learned that I will fail. But I learned that you have to pick yourself up and continue on, otherwise you’ll learn nothing from the failures and the rejections if you don’t keep trying.

11393575_10206255059440696_5720364478865180804_oPhoto by Ángel Franco


budget your bites

Budget Your Bites was created by a team of University of Arizona students in the spring of 2014 for a mobile web application development class. Our goal is to help Tucsonans eat fresher and spend less each month. Features include a shopping list, resource map and short news articles.



The ViewTube Daily was founded in October 2013 as part of the University of Arizona’s Entrepreneurial Journalism class. It is the source for news about famous YouTube content creators, viral videos and YouTube gatherings.


[Exit, pursued by a bear.]

Theatre buffs and Shakespeare enthusiasts recognize [Exit, pursued by a bear.] as one of William Shakespeare’s most famous stage directions. What fewer people know, however, is which plays it’s from.

The Winter’s Tale, not nearly as well known as Romeo and Juliet or Julius Caesar, is still an intruiging tale told by one of the best storytellers of all time.

Storytelling has always been something I’ve been fascinated with. Whether in print, on screen or onstage, I love all the different ways stories can be brought to life.

This website is the story of The Rogue Theatre and their journey in bringing The Winter’s Tale to life.

There is much more to a production than simply memorizing lines and walking around on stage. There are more people to a show than the actors you see on stage. This project looks into what happens behind the scenes.

The First Year Project is an opportunity that first year honors college students at the University of Arizona have to dive into a research area of their choice through a project of their design. With the help of my faculty advisor Professor Nancy Sharkey, I developed a project that would try out my skills as a long-term coverage journalism but also bring me back to the theatre.

– Kayla Samoy

[All photos (headshots of the cast and crew excluded) © Kayla Samoy 2012]

Persistence Pays Off for UA Electrical and Computer Engineering Grad Student

Jerrie Fairbanks

Jerrie Fairbanks didn’t let rejection stop him.

Fairbanks, a fifth-year electrical and computer engineering graduate student, applied for the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists program in previous years but never received it.

This year, Fairbanks was one of the 16 University of Arizona graduate students to be named an ARCS scholar. With scholars coming from the colleges of science, engineering, optical sciences and medicine, he is the only one from the College of Engineering.

Read the rest here at the UA’s College of Engineering website. 

Garden Kitchen educates Tucson community about healthy eating

On a sunny Saturday morning, underneath the shade from a tent in the corner of a parking lot, a breeze spreads the aroma of cooking broccoli throughout the crowd. Bowls of green onions and mushrooms are on the counter. Potatoes are boiling in one pot and cauliflower is cooking in another.

Sitting on metal folding chairs and sipping sweet tea, Tucsonans gathered to learn how to cook healthy meals at the Garden Kitchen.

Read the rest here at the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

UA faculty follows Obama’s lead on BRAIN initiative

UA faculty is taking a collaborative approach to research in order to further President Barack Obama’s initiative to solve the mysteries of the brain.

Dr. Fernando Martinez, a physician-scientist and head of the BIO5 Institute, was at the White House last week when Obama revealed the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative, a research initiative designed to revolutionize the understanding of the human brain.

Read the rest here at the Arizona Daily Wildcat.