Writing for the Pioneer student newspaper was one of the favorite activities of alumna, trustee and donor Megan Salzman Medica ’81, who has parlayed that treasured experience into internship opportunities for five current Whitman students.
Thanks to the latest gift from Salzman Medica and her husband, John, the five students are working as paid writing/journalism interns at the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (UB) and in Whitman’s communications office, gaining valuable experience and honing their skills while providing greatly appreciated assistance to their mentors.
Of the five students benefitting from the Medica internship gift, three work at the UB – Iris Alden ’10, Lara Goodrich ’10 and Dena Popova ’10 – and two work for the college’s communications office – Eleanor Ellis ’13 and Dylan Plung ’11.
“Our Medica interns – Iris, Lara and Dena – have been a major boon for the U-B,” said Alasdair Stewart ’94, UB city editor and Whitman alumnus. “In the month-plus they've been on staff, they've written about 40 stories that have appeared throughout the paper, from the Sunday front page to the weekly A&E section. All three are solid writers who are polishing their skills as reporters and news writers with every passing day. To say we're glad to have them is an understatement.” Among the success stories from the UB is Alden’s article about “Tank,” about a family whose dog was seriously injured in a camping accident. The article was picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and ran in newspapers around the country earlier this month (October). Read the article here.
“The essence of the liberal arts core is fundamental to the field of journalism, which is all about inquiry and expression,” said Ruth Wardwell, Whitman’s director of communications. “Since journalism itself isn’t typically an academic subject at a liberal arts college like Whitman, the opportunities provided by the Medicas are invaluable to students who wish to pursue journalism and communications as a profession. In the communications office we love serving as mentors, and we appreciate the angles on storytelling that the students bring.”
Iris Alden grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area but has discovered that life in the small town of Walla Walla suits her well. In her work at the UB, Alden says she has been “lucky enough to meet all sorts of fascinating Walla Walla people–from 13-year-old modesty fashion experts to the farming family that operates the local Halloween corn maze.” She also co-founded and co-edits “The Secession,” the student magazine that showcases “any and all types of student creations.” When she is not writing or working on her senior thesis, she enjoys riding her bike, reading comic books and baking and eating quick-breads.
Eleanor Ellis is a first-year originally from Salem, Ore., where she attended South Salem High School and edited the “Avatar,” the school’s literary and arts magazine. She has written extensively in creative forms, especially poetry, garnering a National Silver Award in the 2009 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her General Writing Portfolio. She anticipates immersing herself in the writing community at Whitman, and conveying the diverse experiences of her fellow students through her internship in the communications office. Beyond writing, Eleanor loves to speak Spanish, hike in the wilderness, and drink tea.
Lara Goodrich, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, is double-majoring in sociology and rhetoric and film. She applied for the Medica internship, she said, out of her love of Whitman and her interest in writing. Her previous experiences include working as a U.S. senate campaign staffer in 2008 and as an intern in the Carter Center's Democracy Program in 2009. She spent last spring in Uganda on the School for International Training's Development Studies program. Goodrich said she hopes to pursue her passions after college wherever they may lead her, but in the meantime, she wants to savor every moment of her last year at Whitman.
Dylan Plung, a junior Asian studies major from West Richland, Wash., is an award-winning poet who served on the teen editorial staff of The Augusta Chronicle, the major daily newspaper in Augusta, Georgia, where he wrote a number of articles for the paper. At Whitman he has been a staff member of and contributor to “Blue Moon” and serves as a disc jockey and promotions director for KWCW, the student-run radio station. In addition, he does freelance design work. In 2007 he was the poetry winner in Columbia Basin College’s annual literary contest. He has also has served as collegiate reporter, editor and layout designer as well an academic tutor. Plung hopes to someday teach English in Japan, or Japanese in the United States.
Dena Popova, from Sofia, Bulgaria, is pursuing film studies at Whitman, has published pieces in several Bulgarian magazines, was awarded first place in the prose section in the National Literary Contest “Petya Dubarova,” and participated in the Teenage Literature Project “Liternaiset” organized by the British Council in 2005. Popova has written for "The Pioneer" and "Quarterlife," and is on the “Blue Moon” (Whitman’s student literary publication) staff. In November her first book of short stories, "Girls from good families," will be published in Bulgaria. The internship at the UB “is a great work experience,” she said. “The staff is so friendly and helpful, and the work is pleasant. Even though I'm very busy as a senior this year, I can't imagine my time without the internship."
The Medicas also fund the Salzman-Medica speech and debate scholarships to honor another of Megan’s favorite Whitman experiences. Last year they made a gift designed to enhance the student journalists in several ways. It established the Pioneer/Medica Visiting Journalist Program, which brings professional journalists to lead workshops for the Pioneer (Pio) staff, and it also funded the redesign and weekly content management system of the online Pioneer. The Pio’s Web site won national Best of Show honors at the annual convention of the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) held earlier this year in San Diego.
Click here to visit the Whitman Pioneer.
Click here to visit the Union-Bulletin.
CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156