By Valeria Calle, Class of 2023
Escaping the consequences of COVID-19, a pandemic that took everyone by surprise, was almost impossible for anyone. Some people were in the process of starting their own businesses, and others were not mentally ready for the isolation that the entire world was subject to.
While the older generations were just adjusting to the digital world, Adrienne Romero and Neidy Gutierrez—both affected by all the unexpected changes from the pandemic, reevaluated their after-graduation projects, and came together to create Slice of Culture—a digital news outlet that covers the Hudson County Area and has been helpful for many people.
“We were in our senior year, and I remember we were discussing our next steps career-wise,” said Adrienne Romero, “Everything had already been shut down, we were about to graduate, and the world was about to get real.”
Concerned about finding jobs in a time where the mechanics of everything changed, Adrienne and Neidy decided to create a news outlet that would shine a light in the places that few people knew about within their communities—Adrienne from Jersey City, and Neidy from West New York.
“In our areas we don’t really get coverage,” said Romero “We wanted to keep our focus in the areas where other newspapers do not pick up.”
During the first two months of launching their web page, Adrienne and Neidy put their skills into practice during the Black Lives Matter protests and the New Jersey’s Presidential primary election, making their news coverage and infographics gain a lot of attention in social media.
“I interviewed some people at the protests, and we only had two followers at the time” said Romero, “fast forward from that [BLM protests], our account blew up.”
Getting started with their new project also gave Adrienne and Neidy different perspectives on how people adjusted to functioning virtually, and the struggles that others had as a result from the pandemic.
“A lot of people had to reinvent themselves, some people had to take up multiple jobs to just get by,” said Neidy Gutierrez, “A girl we interviewed had to close down her shop, and combine her interior design with her store and make it by appointment. It is about reinventing.”
Senior year is a very important year for a college student. It is the time where students make decisions about their future, and the time that students look forward to during their college years.
Adrienne and Neidy’s lives were undoubtedly affected by the pandemic, but they believe that their generation had an advantage when it came to the digital world.
“Because we were stuck inside, a lot of creators have come out of nowhere, and now they have like five different branches,” said Gutierrez, “some of these people created their empire using social media.”
“Seeing that also inspires us to do more with Slice of Culture, we have tried stickers, bags, etc,” said Gutierrez.
Slice of Culture started as a project seeking to shine a light in unrepresented communities. However, during a time of uncertainty and constant struggle, the news outlet became an opportunity for recent graduates to add work on their resumes, and for small businesses to spread the word—especially when they really needed it.
“We always try to give them [the staff] assignments and mold Slice of Culture into an actual workplace,” said Romero.
Aside from providing other recent graduates with a space to create their own news products, the founders of Slice of Culture feel that the experience of running this digital website has taught them a lot more.
“I have learned how important it is to connect with people,” said Romero, “When you write a story about them, and put them in the spotlight, they are so grateful; it reminds me why we do what we do.”
“[during the pandemic] I have become mentally stronger, it’s definitely put a test to a lot of things,” said Gutierrez, “I learned to value myself and my skills more.”