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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston 50 at 50, Sheri McLeish

Sheri+McLeish
Sheri McLeish

Through a room full of desks, past ping pong and pool tables, stepping over a small pile of 2’ by 4’s arranged in a neat pile on the carpet, Sheri McLeish led the way into a small work room. A collage of plans for the new website of a popular clothing retailer covered one wall and scraps of paper from the same project littered a sturdy white table. She cleared them to the side.
“It’s a really laid back place,” McLeish said. “We basically help our clients develop their marketing strategy.”
As a student from UMass Boston’s class of ’91, McLeish became the Editor of The Mass Media. After graduation, she worked as a journalist for several years before transitioning into marketing research. She worked for a series of marketing companies on trademarks and new products for the internet, social media, and apps. Now she works for SapientNitro, creating marketing campaigns in rooms like the one where she sat down to talk about her UMass Boston experience.
“It all gets back to The Mass Media,” McLeish said. “I just want to say that. The opportunity to be the editor of the newspaper, and to manage it end-to-end, from coming up with story ideas, assignments, to the coordination of all the resources was the foundation of everything since.”
Q: What was The Mass Media like in the 90s?
A: We were in the back of Wheatley Hall. If you can imagine, we had the back corner of the floor and there were racquetball courts, so they had big windows, and you could watch. I used to play racquetball. I won’t go as far to say it was nice, but it was a good place to hang out, and when you commute it’s nice to have a place to just be on campus and have all your friends there. You couldn’t beat it.
Q: Why did you decide to go to UMass Boston?
A: UMass Boston was not my first choice. I transitioned. I had high expectations out of high school. I went to Emerson College for a year. I commuted. It wasn’t a good fit for me because I wasn’t living on campus and getting that experience. It was very expensive. I think I had idealized notions of where I could fit so I had to take some time off. I ended up going to Middlesex Community College after working for a while. When I was there, I had the benefit of being involved in a debating team. We debated Oxford University, and I got to know the president of Middlesex. Every year they provide a scholarship to a state school for one of their graduates for continuing on and I was able to get the nomination and received that scholarship, which was instrumental. It gave me the flexibility to get involved. It was all these little bits of luck that fell into place.
Q: What’s something you remember about your experience at UMass Boston?
A: You know how they always have a band play on campus usually in the spring? The year I was Editor the Kinks played. Because we were in that back hall at Wheatley, and they would go on and perform there, they set their dressing rooms up right next to where our offices were. I wasn’t paying much attention, and I came out of the newsroom saw Ray Davies in his underwear.
Q: What was your favorite class?
A: One of the classes I enjoyed the most was with Mary Shaner, Chaucer. She was excellent. John Brereton. I think I had him for expository writing or something, but he was very supportive of my work in the newspaper. Meg Mansfield was another professor I took classes with. I mean, I could sit and take classes all day and be content. But my education was really at the newspaper. My coursework was a required effort in order to do that.
Q: Have you been to campus since you left school? What are your thoughts on how the university has changed?
A: What I found tremendous about this school, being a little bit of an older returning student, was the variety of people and backgrounds and experience of people you would meet, which would make the classroom discussions a lot more interesting. I would imagine that’s largely similar today, in that you’re represented by cultures from all around the world, different ages and experiences, and I found that to be a life changing experience.
One of the things I was able to do as an undergrad, I met Laura Petrucci. She was the president of Dorchester Community Gardenlands and Development Corporation, and they took vacant lots in Dorchester and turned them into gardens and playgrounds. I worked for like five years for Laura writing grants. That was helpful experience, and had I not gone to UMass Boston, I probably wouldn’t have ventured that far into Dorchester and had the appreciation for that community that I developed.

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010