Marginalia, Graduate Blog

I believe that telling the stories all around us in compelling ways can challenge, unite, and inspire; that substance and style can co-exist in news-making; that journalism is alive and kicking—and evolving.

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia

Before I came to Columbia, I spent my days working a comfortable, yet uninspiring desk job. While I worked, I’d listen to NPR and worry about how I’d ever manage to change the world with a BA in English and a MA in Religious Studies.

So began the most epic job search of all time.

I looked into PhD programs. I read many books. I considered the Peace Corps. I seriously contemplated going into counseling, teaching, international diplomacy, zoo keeping or organic fiber farming. I sought therapy. I thought about my place in the world with every news article I read where people were making a difference.

And finally, it was during one of my nearly daily Slate.com or The Atlantic- inspired conversations that a friend gently suggested I try my hand at journalism.

Journalism? Really?

But it all started coming together. I had a passion for exploring religion and society along with the analytical tools, writing experience and professional connections to make it work. More than that, I love stories from voices on the margins of society, stories that illuminate injustice and stories that offer solutions to our problems. I adore multimedia storytelling.

It’s amazing to be producing news instead of just consuming it.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

Not knowing the first thing about being a journalist before taking the plunge into graduate studies, I knew that I needed training before I could break into the field.

I had the raw materials of curiosity, good grammar and cleverness, but I wanted to go somewhere that could shape me into a multimedia storytelling powerhouse who channels the forces of mass communication for the good of all. Or something like that.

I looked at (and got into) a lot of top j-schools. But I couldn’t have been happier when Columbia called.

Columbia had the mission, the atmosphere, and the reputation I desired. I wanted to study under seasoned professionals who could help me develop my storytelling voice as much as they could teach me cutting-edge reporting skills. Columbia delivered.

They had the diversity and creativity that I required from a graduate program—I was never interested in becoming another cookie-cutter reporter. Columbia honored my vision of using journalism as a tool for social justice, and I’m part of a cohort of amazingly different, brilliant journalists who are just as passionate as I am.

I wanted to be someplace where I could build an impressive portfolio and get my name out there, and I’ve done that through ChicagoTalks. I wanted to focus on audio as much as print, and Columbia had the professional connections I needed.

Really, there couldn’t have been a better fit for me than what I found at Columbia.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

Well, I have a lot of projects cooking on my journalism stove right now. This semester is all about going deeper and finding my niche in the journalism world.

Having covered the Iowa Caucuses for a J-term course in both print and sound, I’m on a serious audio kick and have been working with my professors to submit more audio pieces for what would regularly be print assignments. Reporting with sound presents very different challenges than those you face writing, so I plan to be constantly learning and frequently humbled.

I’m also very excited about my Graduate Assistantship for this spring. I get to be a teaching assistant for Dr. Norma Green’s “Covering Religion” class! It’s a great opportunity to put my religious studies background to use, learn some classroom leadership skills and take a bunch of amazing field trips.

I’ll also be editing the ChicagoTalks.org site this semester. I get to review, copyedit and post content submitted to website. The more I edit, the better, since editing makes my inner-English major happy.

And finally, I’m on the hunt for summer internships and am open to all the adventure that will bring my way.