“I will never forget the kindness I received from the entirety of the College of Arts & Sciences staff,” said Michelle Adams Rawlings ’17 of her experience at Shenandoah. “Every person I met, whether a receptionist or a professor, was focused on my future and my success.”
Rawlings feels that during her time at Shenandoah, the College of Arts & Sciences was her home away from home. She says that the English and mass communications departments in particular created an environment that made her and her classmates feel accepted and free to speak their minds.
With the help of mentors like Adjunct Professor of Mass Communication Joyce Barrett, M.A., Associate Professor of Mass Communications Kelley Crowley, Ph.D., and Lin Rong Song Endowed Chair in Communications, Chair of the Department of Communications and Professor of Mass Communications Gina Daddario, Ph.D., Rawlings learned the logistics of maintaining and managing a newspaper (including designing the newspaper’s website) and blossomed as a reporter.
“I’m confident that if I hadn’t had those experiences, I would never be where I am today,” said Rawlings. “I gained more career-relevant knowledge working at The Buzz (formerly The ‘Doah) than I did in any other aspect of my undergraduate career.”
Rawlings is the executive editor of Conservative Institute, a political news and conservative commentary site. She has worked with the Conservative Institute as an editor since she graduated from Shenandoah in 2017. Previously, Rawlings worked as a general tech and content editor for Conservative Institute, editing both news stories and opinion columns for publication on the organization’s half dozen websites. As executive editor, her role has expanded to include not only editing, but also administrative and marketing tasks, including new editor training, as well as creating and maintaining the organization’s editor guidebooks and style guide. Rawlings also does freelance work, including book editing.
“The greatest joys of my career have been the moments I’ve spent working one-on-one with writers in hopes of helping them hone their craft,” said Rawlings. “At the Conservative Institute, it’s been so rewarding watching some of our younger journalists grow into reliable reporters. The constant success of my colleagues motivates me to be a better editor for them!”
Rawlings believes that being editor in chief of Shenandoah’s student newspaper, The Buzz, in 2016 and 2017 prepared her for the career she has today. The position taught her how to be an efficient and motivating editor.
Rawlings’ advice to students is: “If you want to be a writer (or editor!), get started in your career as soon as you can. Start freelancing while in college. Submit stories to the school newspaper and other university publications (like Avalon). Practice writing journal entries just for yourself. Just keep writing! If you pour your efforts into school and focus on your future, you can set yourself up for a truly rewarding career. Don’t be afraid to try something new! There are so many opportunities out there for writers – you just have to find them.”