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The Boulder

Kathryn L. “Kate” Woods ’19

Practitioner or consumer?

Well-Centered

Rebecca Kerns ’19  and Sarah Russell ’19 (l), a media fellow and WGRE station manager, have a weekly radio show.

Kathryn L. “Kate” Woods ’19 came to DePauw knowing she was interested in some sort of career in the media. But what?

So the communications major began exploring, encouraged by the Media Fellows Program to which she had been accepted as an incoming first-year student. She wrote and shot photos for The DePauw, the student newspaper. She hosted a radio show for WGRE, the student FM radio station. She produced a show for D3TV, student-run television.

And then she spent last spring in Ireland in a required Media Fellows internship, where she wrote profiles, organized fundraisers and developed long-term communication strategies for a nonprofit organization that provides art opportunities for children with chronic illnesses. The experiences, she says, helped her home in on a career as a film or television producer focusing on narrative journalism.

The Eugene S. Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media, which houses the student-run media and the Media Fellows Program, is one of eight centers on the DePauw campus that play a critical role in the Gold Commitment, DePauw’s guarantee that students who fulfill certain requirements will have a job or be in graduate school within six months of their graduation or the university will provide a job or a tuition-free term to shore up their skills.

Each center provides programming that enables any student on campus – not just those studying a related discipline – to explore experiences or to become more deeply engaged. At the Pulliam Center, students explore by listening to speakers who work in the media; attending meetings about student media; or participating in a radio show or podcast. They become more deeply engaged when they attend media-related workshops, host a radio show, work for D3TV, write for the newspaper or hold positions in marketing, public relations or finance in any of the organizations.

Media fellows Victoria Zetterberg ’21 (l) and Cailey Griffin ’20 work on stories for The DePauw 

Students need not be media fellows or even communication majors to engage in any of those experiences, says Jonathan Nichols-Pethick, professor of communication and theatre who holds the John D. Hughes chair, as well as director of the center and the Media Fellows Program.

The media fellows – 25 to 30 a year – have always been required to engage in similar experiences, he says. The program, which started in 1992, is for students who want to explore the media from different directions – from learning the skills needed for a career in the media to learning ways to be informed consumers of them.

“Those parallel paths have always been a defining part of the program,” Nichols-Pethick says. DePauw stands out, he says, because it exposes the participants early on to a broad array of potential careers.

Woods, a legacy student, agrees. “It really let me explore different aspects of media, which helped me, as someone who didn’t know what I wanted to do, find a specific field that I was interested in,” she says.

Her parents are John Woods ’81 and Susan Lewis Woods ’80 and her brother is John “Jack” Woods ’16.

“Kate’s the kind of student who has really benefited from the program,” Nichols-Pethick says. “We want students to try things out, complete the requirements and take advantage of the opportunities, then start to narrow down what they really want to do.”

The program has proven to have a successful formula: 99.7 percent of media fellows have jobs within a year of graduation.

Jonathan Nichols-Pethick

“I hear over and over again from alums,” says Nichols-Pethick, “that the liberal arts itself may be the best training ground for journalists because of the way you need to be able to think about problems, to understand complex ideas, to synthesize them and explain them to people. …. Combining those skills with the ethical underpinnings, the focus on diversity and the focus on difference and a range of ideas – I think that’s just amazing training. And then the other side of the equation – what I always tell people – is getting involved in journalism here is great training for everything else you do.”

Editor’s note: This is the second in series of magazine issues that focus on DePauw’s eight centers, which play a critical role in The Gold Commitment.

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