Hello from the Journalism MA Ambassador

Stephanie Ewing, Journalism MA Ambassador

Stephanie Ewing, Photo Credit: Danielle Duchene

Hi there! I’m Stephanie Ewing, and I’ll be continuing in my capacity as Graduate Student Ambassador for the Journalism MA program this fall semester. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I field:

Q: Wow, the journalism MA is only a year and a half long! How do you like that?

A: The program is intense, and the people are amazing. My classmates are a close-knit, diverse, and very talented bunch. The professors are extremely supportive, but expect you to deliver professional quality work, every time. I see this as great practice for when you expect to get a professional quality job.

Q: Do you work outside of class?

A: Yes. I’ve held various jobs outside class hours—generally between 15-20 hours a week. These have included tutoring developmental writers, serving as a graduate assistant, editing ChicagoTalks.org, working at a magazine, and working for Columbia’s marketing and communications office.

Q: Whoa, sounds like a lot…how do you manage it all?

A: Through practice, dazzling time management skills, minimizing procrastination, and maximizing coffee intake.

Q: Practice? What do you mean?

A: This is my second master’s degree. My first is in religious studies, where I specialized in studying the intersection of religion and public policy/politics (which does come in handy for journalism). I do not recommend getting two masters degrees. Turns out you can’t trade in two MA’s for a PhD.

Q: What is the favorite thing you’ve worked on in the Journalism MA program so far?

A: Hm… that would probably be a four-way tie between a radio piece I produced covering Mitt Romney’s early primary race in Illinois, a lengthy and as of yet unpublished feature piece about the way special education students in Illinois transition into the work world, an in-progress feature piece about a cursed shipwreck in the Straits of Mackinac, and a humorous personal essay about this one time I made a very bad decision to be in a beauty pageant.

But I’ve also very much enjoyed the opportunity to edit—especially when as the graduate assistant for the Covering NATO class, I was basically a desk editor, publishing over 30 student pieces on ChicagoTalks and keeping track of them in the field.

Q: What do you hope to do with your degree?

A: I’d like to write and edit, preferably long-form narrative journalism (think feature-length story-driven articles in New Yorker, Slate.com, The Atlantic or some of the longer pieces you hear on NPR) and work on some creative nonfiction on the side. I have several book ideas that I’d like to pursue as well. Mainly, though, I’d like to be gainfully employed and writing—the other details are negotiable.

Q: What do you do outside of school?

A: Well, before July 29, I spent my non-working hours knitting, reading, salsa dancing, and scuba diving whenever the water wasn’t too cold in the Great Lakes. But since getting engaged, my main hobby has become planning a sane and budget-friendly wedding while squeezing in quality time with my fiancé and our friends, family, and pet bird.