“It is worth remembering that the time of greatest gain in terms of wisdom and inner strength is often that of greatest difficulty.” – Spiritual leader and Tibetan monk, the Dalai Lama. 

Kaitlyn Seawood’s home life was in turmoil. Rather than let adversity defeat her, however, she used it as motivation to create a better future. In the fall of 2020, she began taking online classes at Northampton Community College (NCC) and later took courses at the Monroe Campus, where people were genuinely interested in her well-being and future success. Over the next two and a half years, she became increasingly involved in extracurricular activities, soaking in all they had to offer. In the process, she gained knowledge, confidence and direction. 

Her challenges began in 2019. While still a teenager, Seawood lost her two most significant family members. Her grandmother, who had been her mother figure after her parents’ divorce, passed away in March. Meanwhile, her father had been diagnosed with lung and liver cancer. It spread to his brain, and he died in May 2020, three days after her 19th birthday. She then found herself in the position of needing to support herself. 

Over the next 14 months, Seawood moved four times before finally landing in Blakeslee. Every day presented a new battle as she worked to earn enough money to pay her rent and keep food on the table. She wanted to give up multiple times but somehow found the strength to keep going. Even more than that, her struggles motivated her. 

“Losing my grandmother and father reminded me that we only have so much time on this earth, and we have to make the best of our time,” she said. “This inspired me to go back to school and do something significant with my life.” 

A Pleasant Valley High School graduate, Seawood reached out to friends from school who were NCC alumni. They spoke positively about their experiences at the college and the opportunities their education provided them, Seawood said. Some were working in jobs they liked. Others had transferred to four-year colleges and universities and were doing well in their classes.  

“I know so many people who have success stories from attending Northampton Community College,” she said. “I knew going to NCC was my best and smartest option.” 

Seawood liked that NCC was affordable and offered the flexibility she needed to continue working full-time while taking classes. Undecided about a major, she enrolled in general studies. She made the Dean’s list that semester and again in the spring. She was considering majoring in either environmental science or journalism when her advisor suggested she take an introduction to journalism course. 

Now retired, Professor Robert Hays, taught the introductory course where Seawood learned the history of journalism and its basic tenants. She learned the importance of maintaining objectivity and about laws regarding consent and plagiarism through that class and subsequent ones. Hays told the students that while journalism has changed and many traditional jobs in journalism, such as newspaper reporters, are dwindling, new online opportunities are developing continuously.  

“He was a big reason I got into the program,” she said. “I owe that to him and the other professors I had.” 

Seawood’s journalistic experience at NCC extended well beyond the classroom. In January 2022, she began as a staff writer for NCC’s student newspaper, The Commuter, and wrote 11 articles that spring. At the end of the semester, she rose to deputy editor. Subsequently, she was named editor-in-chief, which she describes as a full-time job in its own right. In this position, she writes and edits other writers’ articles, plans content and makes assignments. 

“Working for The Commuter has given me real experience that is expected within journalism,” she said. “By juggling demanding deadlines, interviewing sources and reporting on live events, I have benefitted immensely from involvement with The Commuter. I have been able to explore various writing styles and new topics. Being an editor has also improved my writing, editing and communication skills, as I must give feedback to staff and other writers.”  

Seawood also served as President of the Beta Beta Chi chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honors Society. She led the chapter in projects to help NCC and the community.  

“I learned so much about myself from my participation with PTK,” she said. “I learned how to be a leader and a team builder. I learned how to solve issues and communicate with staff. These skills will take me further in my career.” 

Seawood says that many people in our society mistrust the media. As a journalist, she hopes to rebuild trust. She also wants her people to understand the importance of being informed. “I want to write about what’s real and tell it like it is without fabricating information to support an agenda,” she said.  

In May 2023, Seawood plans to graduate from NCC with an associate degree in journalism. She has been accepted to Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where she will study multimedia journalism in the fall.  

Looking back on her challenging journey, she’s now grateful for the opportunity for growth it provided. 

“In the moment, all I wanted to do was give up, but now I look back on that time and realize that it has made me the person I am today,” she said. “Every little challenge has made me a better, stronger person.”