When Trevin Smith was 10, he wanted to act like a grown up. So, he read an article in The New York Times. The writer reported on various issues all while traveling the world. After reading it, he ran into his living room and told his mom that is what he wanted to be when he was an adult: a journalist. His mom brushed it off. But now, he’s doing exactly what he said he wanted to do, and more.
Life after LPC usually funnels students to California State Universities. Rarely do we hear about LPC alumni go to Ivy League schools. The mass communications program is about to produce its second in Trevin Smith. Who’s long, path has led him to Columbia University.
When he was little, Smith would record videos of the things he would do and the places he would go. Sometimes he would make music videos out of them and practice editing.
“I just love good stories,” Smith said.
In 2010, Smith came into Las Positas knowing he wanted to be a journalist. He was at LPC for five years, getting up close to the field for a much cheaper price.
Smith took his first video class with Jin Tsbota who is now the Tutorial Center Director. “I immediately felt I could trust him,” Tsbota said, “he’s very honest and transparent.”
After graduating from LPC, Smith went to San Jose State University and majored in journalism with a minor in political science and graduated in 2018. There, Smith wanted to focus on video journalism but their program was more geared to print journalism rather than video.
To graduate from the journalism program at SJSU, students are required to study abroad and to have an internship in order to graduate.
In 2017, for his study abroad program, Smith went to Greece and Italy to report on the Syrian refugee camps with other students and professors.
“That was the hardest thing I had to do as a journalist,” Smith said.
Smith was split up into small groups and had to film interviews at all the camps they visited. In more than one instance, Smith and his group had to interview adults and children who were captured by ISIS.
Smith and his group happened to come across an Afghan soldier who also sold drugs. At first, the soldier was hesitant with the group because they were filming, but then he became receptive.
One thing led to another, and the soldier told the group that if they follow him, he can help them get footage. They ended up at a park and the professor who was with them, who Smith said is fearless, told them to stay close, don’t venture away from the group and stay close to the door.
The professor who was with them, walked into the middle of the park and was quickly surrounded by men. However, the soldier was met with respect and the professor was in a safe situation. The soldier told them that he hates drugs but has to sell them to get by.
Just over three weeks later, their study abroad was over and collectively the entire group got 265 hours of footage. There was too much footage to go through, so they created a website and put some of the vignettes on it.
Because of how taxing the program was on everyone involved, they changed how long the program was and where the students went.
After it was finished, Smith traveled alone for around two weeks and went to Rome, Munich and Paris.
All of a sudden, the summer of 2018 was starting and he was running out of time for his internship requirement.
He applied to over 40 internships including NBC. NBC hires students in multiple different departments and one of Smith’s friends was already an intern there and told him there was a spot available.
Starting in May of 2018, Smith interned at NBC Bay Area News on the newsfloor writing scripts for anchors on the nightside shows at 5 and 6 p.m.
Even though TV isn’t the part of journalism he wants to focus on, he said, “It’s important to learn skills even if it’s not in your field.”
NBC, Smith said, was a factor to him achieving his dream of attending Columbia that he made in 2016.
Smith was friends with LPC alum, Julian Lim. The two worked together in the mass communications program at LPC. Although they were peers, Smith learned a lot from Lim.
“I looked up to him,” Smith said, “he’s like a brother to me.”
Seeing Lim get accepted into Columbia and follow his dreams, encouraged Smith to do the same.
So at the end of 2016, Smith decide to commit himself to applying to Columbia for grad school. Last October, Smith applied to Columbia, and in December, he applied to UC Berkeley. Then in February, he had to take test for both programs and go through an interview process.
“Aim high, you never know what will happen,” Smith said.
Instead of going to a school he was used to and grew up visiting, he chose to have the experience of a lifetime. “I knew in the back of my head that if Columbia accepted me, I had to go,” Smith said.
However, attending an Ivy League school wasn’t always on his mind. “I made a promise to myself I would give my very best to transfer,” Smith said. He was one letter grade away from failing out of Las Positas.
This same ambition followed him to SJSU. He would try everything he could to get into Columbia and if he didn’t get accepted, at least he would know he did his best.
Luckily, his ambition led him to the right place. Next fall, he is moving across the country to attend Columbia. Although he’s nervous to leave his family and his girlfriend, he’s devoting himself to learning 24/7 and getting every experience he can.
His ultimate goal: working for Vice or The New York Times. He started watching Vice when they were just starting out with low quality video production.
For Trevin Smith, the saying find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life, reigns true.