Alvin Buyinza graduated from UMass Amherst in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Journalism. He took his talents and skills from the UMass Journalism Department to The Conversation U.S., where he currently works as an editorial outreach assistant, specifically at the education desk.
His duties include reaching out and commissioning stories from multiple scholars across the country, focusing on research associated with education policy. He is particularly interested in diversity, STEM, and diversity in STEM, as well as Title IX. Most recently, he worked on a story about how over one hundred college professors have signed a petition urging President Joe Biden to cancel college debt. He reached out to numerous professors from universities across the country, such as University of California, Irvine School of Law, Iowa State University, and Arizona State University, asking them to write about their research on student debt cancellation.
This type of outreach is common for Buyinza every day. He also manages the updates for the education section of The Conversation website and creates a daily newsletter. However, a large part of his day consists of looking at the top stories and planning out what he will post the following day.
Buyinza spent most of his time at UMass writing for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. “The Collegian was my life while at UMass, I loved the Collegian. It was an amazing experience,” Buyinza said. He wrote many stories for the Collegian, one of which got published in The Washington Post. The story was about how he relates to Kamala Harris’ identity as a second-generation black immigrant.
If Buyinza had the opportunity to change his UMass experience, he said he would do a few things differently. He wishes he had handled his stress better and found a balance between work and play. “I worked so hard, but I wish I had done all the fun stuff too," Buyinza said.
Like most students in the Journalism Department, portfolio-building activities took up the majority of his time. In his opinion, prioritizing student media is as important as your classes. He recommends getting involved in any way you can, treating it like a job, and taking it very seriously. It might mean writing for the Collegian, a personal favorite of his, or writing for Amherst Wire, the UMass PR Club blog, Her Campus, and many more. "The university has infinite resources making it nearly impossible not to find something of interest," Buyinza said.
One course that he strongly recommends is Data-Driven Storytelling, which he took with Professor Rodrigo Zamith. This class taught him to interpret the data and make beautiful visualizations. Buyinza feels that the class prepared him for his current job because his editor is always asking what the results are and what the data tells us. "As a journalism major, data and numbers may seem irrelevant, but they are not," Buyinza said. “I don't care what kind of journalism you pursue. I think every journalist needs to understand how to read data and interpret it.”
Buyinza is a prime example of someone who got the most out of what the UMass Journalism Department has to offer. He remained dedicated to The Collegian and his journalism courses and adapted skills, such as time management and prioritization, that have shaped him into the success story he is today.This profile was written as a part of the 2021 Alumni Spotlight Series by students in the Writing for Public Relations course.