University of Minnesota

Journalism Student Profile

Name: Samantha Alisankus
Anticipated Graduation Year:

Samantha Alisankus

How and why did you choose your major?

I actually came to my major in a bit of an unconventional way. I started my freshman year as a die-hard nutrition major, but began to feel as if I was missing something from my academic experience. I realized that what I was missing was writing. I missed the ability to engage in the written word and tinker with the many ways that words can be used to express meaning. I had always been one to have a pen and paper handy and my strong interest in politics and law coalesced with my established habit and pushed me to consider journalism. After taking a chance on Journalism 1001 my spring semester of Freshman year, I didn’t have to wonder anymore; journalism was definitely the major I wanted to be in and I couldn’t wait to actually start taking classes in the major.

Please give a description (in your words) of your major including the things you learn, favorite classes, and any challenges you have faced.

Journalism, to me, is a unique field in which one is granted the opportunity to constantly learn new information through the employment of a number of refined skills (writing, critical analysis, editing, communicating, etc.). As a journalism student whose focus is in strategic communication, I tend to spend most of my academic time learning about topics that enable me to interact effectively with surrounding audiences. For instance, I may learn how to effectively communicate the same message to both young children and adults or learn how to convey a business’s message to the public.

What types of experiences outside of the classroom have you had relating to your major? (i.e. clubs, jobs, internships, volunteering, study abroad etc.)

I have held two summer internships writing for offices in the Wisconsin Supreme Court (Office of Judicial Education, and Office of Court Information). Both offices afforded me the ability to employ internal relations practices, and hone my writing skills. I also worked briefly with a local senior living center to conduct interviews with residents and write stories based on the interviews. This position helped me to develop my personal skills, and learn to communicate across barriers. Most recently, I worked my fall semester of my sophomore year as a reporter intern for the Minnesota Daily. This position, more than any of the others, taught me the importance of preparation and ability to adapt to change. Having never written in AP style before, and with little training on the mechanics of newspaper writing, I was required to challenge myself and “jump in”. It certainly created a steep learning curve and I learned a tremendous amount from the experience!

In your opinion, what is one thing, or one piece of advice that other students pursuing your major should know?

One piece of advice I would give to all students pursuing this major is to remember that journalism is, in its essence, a practice in the art of ambiguity and adaptability. Due to the dynamic nature of the field, concepts, understandings of knowledge, and information are always changing, so if one is to be successful in the field, one is going to have to be able to tolerate change and at times accept the unknown rather than fear it.

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