PITTSFIELD — Emma Kostyun, a recent graduate of Pittsfield High School, has been awarded the 2021 Daniel Pearl Berkshire Scholarship.
The scholarship, established in 2003 with major support from The Berkshire Eagle, The North Adams Transcript and friends of Daniel Pearl, is awarded annually to one Berkshire-area student who intends to major in journalism or music in college. The scholarship award is $2,000.
Pearl, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped and killed, at age 38, by terrorists in Pakistan in early 2002. He began his career in the Berkshires, working as a reporter at The Transcript and The Eagle, from 1986 to 1990.
Kostyun began writing for Pittsfield High's student newspaper as a sophomore, covering theater, music and news in the Berkshires. She also was a member of the high school's jazz and concert bands. She plans to major in journalism and music at the University of New Hampshire in the fall.
Kostyun recently spoke with The Eagle about the award. Her answers are lightly edited for clarity.
You play three instruments: the bassoon, tenor saxophone and clarinet. How did you pick up so many instruments?
A: When I was in third grade, at my elementary school, Allendale, they had the music teachers come in and play little things on all the instruments; to see if you would like them, and if you want to join the band.
[The music teacher] played the clarinet, and I was like, 'Oh, my god, that's so cool.' So, I picked up the clarinet. And then, when I got to high school, I was kind of bored of it. They're not really that big in the concert band. So, I was putzing around, looking for instruments, and I found the bassoon. And then I found out that nobody plays it, and it's a really unique instrument. And then, I utterly fell in love with it.
I played that in the concert band. Then, I wanted to join the jazz band because I thought jazz was cool. So, I was like, I'm just gonna play tenor sax for fun.
When did you decide to get into journalism? Why did you stick with it?
A: I'd always loved writing. I thought for the longest time that my passion was creative writing — writing stories and stuff like that. But, I had this doubt in my mind: How can I make a career out of this?
Being a novelist or writer is really hard. But, then, I realized that there is a job that you can do while writing, and that's journalism. And I found that right before high school, and I was like, "Oh, my God, I have to do this."
Do you have any hopes or dreams about what your career will look like, or how your passions will evolve?
A: I know I want to be a journalist. Obviously, hands down. But, I haven't decided what route I want to do.
I'm in love with the idea of doing music journalism, which I didn't know was a thing until I met this professor at the school I'm going to. He's a music journalist, and I didn't know that that was a path that I could go down.
But, I also have been thinking that there's so many other paths that one can choose, like reporting on TV, or writing for a newspaper, or being the president's social media coordinator, or travel journalism. … My biggest dream would be working for Rolling Stone magazine or something. But, it's really hard to get in there.
Is writing about music different, for you, than writing about other things?
A: Writing is about evoking emotion, and music is about evoking emotions. And when you write about music, you can write about the emotions it evokes while also evoking emotions.
It's a very powerful way to do things. You get to talk about the tones of the piece, how it makes people feel, the balances of the different instruments and how that's gonna change the emotions someone's gonna have.
What did it mean to you to receive the award?
A: I almost screamed. ... I was just happy that I got recognized. I didn't even think about whatever the prize is. I don't even know how much it is, because I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about how I went through this process, and I made something, and I showed myself and I showed how passionate I am. And I was recognized for that. It meant a lot to receive it.