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Spotlight: Prof. Nick McBride

by Stacey Linehan, posted 05/09/2012


Professor Nick McBride says he started teaching as a “divine accident” which turned into a passion he is forever grateful for. After meeting a motivated young man at a summer youth journalism project, McBride brought him to UMass, his old stomping grounds, to give him the opportunity to make some connections and succeed as he had. When McBride was preparing to come for the student’s graduation, he received a call, “from out of the blue” saying that there was a spot open for a professor and he jumped on the opportunity to continue helping other students as he had with the first young man.

When further questioned about the initial days of his teaching, McBride says, “I came here to teach in 1990. Teaching is not really the thing in the academy. Most goes to researchers. Teaching is a very personal relationship built. You can’t teach anybody if they don’t like you and respect you and this has to do with really getting to know people and there is, of course, disparities and as you get older and you have more experiences but that doesn't mean that you know everything and that your experiences are so comprehensive that you can’t learn from the students.” This understanding right here is one of the many McBride possess which make him an exceptional professor and mentor for students at UMass. In a school where class sizes can be over 300 and students in lecture halls are still asking what the professor’s name is at the end of the term while filling out evaluations, McBride offers a fresh breath of air and a dedication to the most important aspects of life learning, not just learning inside the walls of academia.

After the majority of his career prior to UMass was spent in the newspaper business, McBride said he was only really qualified to teach journalism. He says, “a lot of people think that journalists are just craftsmen and some people think it does not even belong in the academy but I contend that because we are protected by the constitution and it is an integral part of democracy and to be a journalist you have to be in tune with humanity and know philosophy. You truly need an expansive liberal arts education.” Journalism is not only something that prepares you to be a reporter, it provides you with a plethora of skills that can pertain to various fields in the work force and help sculpt you into being a great critical thinker as well as helping you find your own ethical and moral codes which will serve you daily.

We work hard to achieve and retain knowledge but, “if you do not use your education to help other people get a boost up in life, then you are not doing anything.” For McBride, dedication to humanity and bridging the gap of inequality is something he considers with all his actions. Years from now, “I want them to say that he touched peoples lives and tried to be a contributor, not just a taker” McBride says.

UMass is a school so large and full of people that sometimes one can feel lost or intimidated but McBride reminds us, “if there is somebody who has something that you want and need then you need to be aggressive and try to get some time with that person. I understand being shy and all that but if you have skills and insights you are trying to acquire sometimes you need to look out for your own best interests.” The importance of a mentor can serve you in your years beyond college.

Nick McBride has served me as a mentor for the past year and my only upset is that I had not found him sooner. Dedication to the advancement of student’s learning and happiness is what makes him stand out to me. So full of wisdom yet he still remains humble. On the first day of his Philosophy of Journalism Class, he had us each go around the room and thank each student for being our peer and our teacher. This was to be done without words. Simple smiles and sincere head nods reminded me of the beauty learning creates, learning from more than just the teacher, from each other which is what I think college is all about. McBride fosters an environment where learning is natural and you crave it after all, “What could be more fun than learning?”