Michael Hogan grew up in Canton Massachusetts, a homogeneous suburb 20 miles south of Boston.
“It is not a diverse town at all. I grew up in a town where, when I was going to school, I graduated high school in 1997, and I could count the minority students on one hand in my grade. It was a very caucasian class, and it was just the way the town was, and so I grew up not really understanding diversity.”
“To go to UMass, and have students from all around the world, students of all ages, students from all walks of life, for me was eye opening, but also really empowering.”
After high school, Hogan spent about eight years working, trying to figure out what to do with his life, and then he enrolled in Massasoit Community College in Brockton. After a few semesters of study, he got the Foster Furcolo Scholarship.
“It got me into any state school for free,” Hogan says. “At that point I was 26 years old, and it was the diversity of the school, and also the closeness, but the quality of the education, of all the state schools that I could choose from. It was by far the best education for the money.”
Part way through his first semester a friend said something about the Mass Media needing some writers, and Hogan made his way up to the office and started writing articles for the arts and entertainment section.
“Within almost a month I became the assistant arts editor, and less than a month after that was made the arts editor. It was just sort of this whirlwind thing, and then I worked as the arts editor for another semester after that before I went on to be the Editor in Chief.”
The newspaper took up a majority of Hogan’s time, though he printed a few creative writing pieces in
he Watermark, the student literary magazine. The students that gathered in the Student Media Office became like a family to Hogan.
“The people that you work with, not only are they colleagues but they become good friends. Being there Friday nights, finishing up editing and laying out the paper, and just sitting around the production computers with the production team. Things like that are for me some of the fondest memories.”
The media conventions in Washington DC and New York strengthened those bonds.
“We got a lot of schooling at the conferences, but for me it was more those moments sitting around the production computer on Fridays and picking out the final pictures and things like that, or eating a sub with everybody at editorial meetings, trying to come up with the perfect spread and the perfect cover and things like that. It was those little things that were really the
great memories about the paper, because they were more personal cause it was you and your friends putting this thing together, almost on a whim. I still am good friends with a number of the people from the newspaper.”
One good friend, John Mozzarella who became one of the first umassmedia.com webmasters, inadvertently met his wife at a barbecue at Hogan’s house. Hogan lists a slew of names that made up the Mass Media clique in his days as editor.
“Most of us didn’t have any formal journalism background. For the most part it was kind of just learning on the fly, so being able to sit down and you put together your own newspaper.”
Hogan’s background was specifically arts and entertainment, so when he became editor of the newspaper that was the focus of his writing, and he let the section editors take control of their sections.
“What I learned there the most was leadership skills, learning to be able to teach people.”
He led from behind, editing, picking up the slack and encouraging the writers around him.
“I remember times that Ryan Thomas would come to me with a story he had written, and it was a really great story but there were moments in it that could have used a little bit more air. They were sports articles, so telling what happened is great, but bring the reader to there. Don’t just tell them the facts. Describe what the atmosphere was like.”
Sometimes Hogan would walk out along the water toward Castle Island, enjoying the scenery.
“When it was really really nice in the summer, and I had to write a paper, or I had to write a story or something like that, I would often take my notebook and walk down the beach, and just sit on the beach by myself, and start writing.”
He took most of his creative writing classes with Askold Melnyzchuk.
“He ended up really helping with the writing that I was doing, which then in turn helped with the newspaper, so the creative writing workshops were probably my most fun classes for the most part. Every class had some kind of fun to it.”
Hogan also fondly remembers his Shakespeare classes with Scott Maisano and John Tobin.
“I don’t think I had a single bad teacher there. I had classes that were more difficult than others. I had one entire class was on Virginia Wolff, which in many was was a great thing to study, but at the same time when you’re taking four other classes, and studying for finals and things like that Virginia Wolff can be draining to process.”
After graduation Hogan got his teaching license in Massachusetts, but on a whim moved to China for a year. He taught English at to a city just south of Shanghai, where he cultivated his eye for photography.
“Keeping in touch with family was difficult, so I ended up keeping a blog, and taking photographs while I was over there. It was a way for me to express myself, and for me to show what I see of the world to people, and when I came back that quickly blossomed into me deciding that I wanted to buy a fancier camera.”
When Hogan moved back to Boston he started a freelance photography business, which supplements his primary income running the customer service department for the Boston Tea Party Ships.
“This city is an incredible place to come and learn,” Hogan says. “This city has so much history in itself and so much culture and so much diversity, that it’s an incredible place for anybody to come during their formative years, becoming the person that they are going to be.”
UMB worked well for Hogan, commuting up from Canton, but he’s excited to see how the university grows and expands with an increasingly diverse demographic.
“You didn’t have as much of your normal American college crowd as you would think. I fit in perfectly because a lot of people were around my age, but I could tell that some of the younger college kids, the 19/20 year olds would look around the classroom, ‘Oh this is weird, I’ve got somebody’s grandmother next tome.’”
“It’s almost like seeing the world through the different people in your classroom, and very quickly understanding that not everybody thinks the way you do, and then maybe there’s a reason that they don’t think the way that you do.”