With graduation upcoming, The Meredith Herald staff would like to congratulate our graduating staff members.
What initially motivated you to join The Herald?
Olivia Slack, Co-Editor in Chief
When I was touring Meredith, I saw copies of The Herald around campus and knew that if I attended, I wanted to join the newspaper. Then, as a freshman, I attended the Student Organization Fair and was able to talk to current staff. Their welcoming attitude made me even more certain that I wanted to join, and I ended up attending every Herald meeting after that. Although I'm not an English major, I have always felt that The Herald is a great place for anyone on campus who wants to make a difference and write about issues students care about, regardless of their prior experience with journalism or English. I was really lucky that my Big Sis, Mimi Mays, was also the Associate Editor my freshman year and the Editor in Chief my sophomore year. She was an excellent mentor to me, and with her guidance I was able to become Features Editor the second semester of my freshman year. I also served as Online Editor during my sophomore year, including when I studied abroad, and am proud of how The Herald's online presence has evolved during Mimi's and Ell's and my terms as Editors in Chief.
Elinor Shelp-Peck, Co-Editor in Chief
Growing up, I always loved to read and write; in second grade my mom even had to convince me to not carry around two Harry Potter books at once (in case I were to finish one and not have the next). At summer camps I chose to work on the camp newspaper during our free time instead of participating in arts and crafts, sports and games or other activities. While I toured colleges I kept an eye out for their publications, and so it was always on my radar as something I wanted to pursue in college. I joined the staff in the spring 2019 semester and quickly became enthralled by the journalistic process and The Herald community. I had a really hard time finding my place at Meredith, and The Herald and its staff are what kept me from transferring.
Ally Cefalu, A&E Editor
I initially joined The Herald at the request of my roommates, who were already on staff. They thought that it would be a good fit for me, and it was another chance for us to collaborate and see each other during the day despite our busy schedules. I quickly realized that The Herald is a great way to interact with people from many different parts of campus while also learning new technical writing skills. I joined pretty late in my college career, but I've enjoyed every second of being on staff.
Molly Perry, Features Editor
I started attending Herald meetings my first semester at Meredith. I was too busy at the time to fully be on staff, so I wrote one or two articles as a contributing writer. The staff meetings were so much fun, so I knew I wanted to become a full staff member during my sophomore year. I have so enjoyed working as a staff writer and becoming Features Editor. It's hard to imagine what my college experience would have looked like without The Herald. My favorite part about being on staff is highlighting student voices and sharing students' truth with the Meredith community.
What is your favorite article you’ve worked on during your time at The Herald?
My favorite article I wrote is actually the recent article about the upcoming Queer Literature course that was published in the April 6 issue. I was so excited to see that Meredith was going to offer the course—but also sad that I was going to be graduating before it's being offered—and being able to highlight it in The Herald was important. I know that hearing what Dr. Ringleb and Dr. Fine had to say about the course was inspiring for me and many other students.
There are two articles that I have been extremely passionate about during my time with The Herald. The first was an article I wrote with Mia Shelton regarding the clarity of Meredith Admissions’ gender policies or lack thereof. I learned a lot while working on this article, and while it was mostly discouraging, I felt that this article was able to provide a lot of necessary information to the Meredith community. My favorite article that I've written while working on The Herald was my recently published opinion article regarding Meredith's mask mandate updates. I spent a lot of time compiling sources and organizing my thoughts from classes that I've taken. We don't regularly get feedback from articles, but I received multiple messages from people about the article and I felt like I made a difference or at least that people were given a voice— which is such a wonderful and fulfilling feeling.
I wrote a satirical article one or two semesters ago from the point of view of campus squirrels as classes were coming back to being in person. It talked about how the squirrels missed seeing students around campus during the pandemic, and they were looking forward to all of the food we were going to drop now that we would be walking around to our classes. That was really fun to write, and I hope it made others laugh during such an uncertain time.
When it was time for me to get my onyx my junior year, I wrote an opinion article about how the meaning behind the onyx had changed for me over the years because of my experiences on campus and knowledge about Meredith in general. I think that article is the only opinion piece I have ever written while on staff, so that was a unique experience for me. That article is also the one I received the most feedback on from Herald readers. It sparked conversation and some controversy, so I know I did my job as a student journalist.
What are your post graduation plans?
After graduating from Meredith, I'll be taking a gap year before pursuing a graduate degree in international studies. I hope to be able to work with international students and study abroad programs one day, and during my gap year I hope to gain experience in the field. Although I'm not pursuing a career in journalism, I have learned so much from my time with The Herald and am grateful for my time on staff.
Next year I am attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN to pursue a Master's in Medicine, Health and Society. There I will be doing my thesis about the interactions between LGBTQ+ patients and their physicians in clinical settings and the impact that this has on patients' mental health. Following the completion of this degree, I plan to attend medical school.
After graduation, I will be working full-time at BioAgilytix as an analyst. I am very excited about this next chapter!
After graduation, I will be working full-time at RTI International as a survey specialist on the organization's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. I'm looking forward to this new opportunity!
What advice would you give to future Editors in Chief?
I would advise future editors in chief to remember why The Herald exists: to serve the Meredith community, especially students, and amplify their voices. It's our duty to report on issues that matter to our fellow students, and that's not only a huge honor but also a big responsibility.
This is a hard question because the job is so dynamic. I think the hardest thing to learn was that my life does not need to revolve around the paper, and while a lot of the time it does, it is okay to go to sleep and pick something back up the next day. That being said, I also learned that it is necessary to be firm at times—especially with deadlines. It is important to understand that the job of Editor in Chief comes with great responsibility, but ultimately we are the custodians of the paper. The Herald was here before us and it will be here after us, so we must preserve its integrity and reputation and think of the community as a whole rather than just our individual motives, biases or goals.
What advice would you give to current and future Herald staff members?
For current and future Herald staff members, I would say don't be afraid to get involved. The connections you make with other staff members and other members of campus as you're writing articles is so rewarding. Writing articles, applying to be an editor and conducting interviews are ways that The Herald builds your skillset as a writer while helping you make some great memories on campus.
Your opinions have power. Your investigative skills have power. Your articles have power. In my time on the Herald staff, I've seen how the Meredith community responds when students speak up about issues on campus. As student journalists, the best way we can advocate for change on campus is to report the facts on what we are seeing and give students a platform to make themselves heard. Even though Herald staff reports to our Co-Editors in Chief, we ultimately work for students. If you need some motivation to write more articles or join Herald staff, think about your classmates and peers whose ideas and voices are the guiding light for change on Meredith's campus.
Additionally, Herald staff member Hannah Taib will be graduating! Thank you Herald seniors for all your hard work and dedication during your time with The Meredith Herald.
Interviews compiled by Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor