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In their own words: Senior year in the SJMC

When temperatures are freezing and snow covers the University's campus, it's hard to believe that spring--and graduation--is only a few short months away. As they get ready for their last semester in the SJMC, five seniors talk about their course work (challenging but satisfying), their interests (all over the place), their free time (what there is of it), and their futures (very bright).

Sarah Andritsch

Sarah AndritschWhat she's studying: I'm on the strategic communication track, and my primary focus is in public relations. I love the campaign classes in the SJMC--they allow students to work with real organizations and gain firsthand experience. In my time in SJMC, I have worked with Harley- Davidson, Carmichael Lynch, the Minnesota Vikings, and Dreamfields Pasta.

Who she's studying with: My favorite professor is Brian Southwell. I will never forget the Intro to Mass Communications class that he taught. Also, Mass Media and Pop Culture with John Rash was an awesome class. I enjoy having classes with adjunct professors because they are out in the professional world.

Putting her major to work: This summer I was a communications intern at the Minneapolis Red Cross. I worked with the communications manager and collaborated with other departments as well. My biggest accomplishment was constructing an entirely new media plan. When it finally came together, it was amazing!

And in her free time . . . : I don't have much free time, but I am very involved in Housing and Residential Life at the University of Minnesota, giving campus tours and meeting new and prospective students. I also like volunteering--I've been a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Second Harvest Food Banks, and the English Learning Center.

In the future: I will be graduating in December 2005--one semester early-- and plan to continue my education in law enforcement. Eventually, I hope to do PR work for a police department.

Paul Barrett

Paul BarrettWhat he's studying: I am on the strategic communication track studying public relations. One of my favorite courses was Information for Mass Communication because it helped me realize how much information is available that I would have otherwise never known about. I also enjoyed Public Relations Writing and Campaign Tactics.

Who he's studying with: Gordon Leighton does a wonderful job of challenging his students. He taught us how to write dozens of communications materials and helped us put together a professional portfolio. Gary Hornseth has also been a fantastic instructor. He has taught me how important it is for a communicator to look at all the information he or she sees with a critical eye.

Putting his major to work: I recently started an internship with Xcel Energy in its Corporate Communications department. I've already had the opportunity to work on a number of projects including the employee newsletter, daily news updates on the Web, corporate citizenship and foundation projects, and marketing and promotions work.

In the future: I am using the internship at Xcel as an opportunity to discover what I like to do most within the communications field. Most importantly, I want to work for a company that I am passionate about.

Sarah Bauer

Sarah BauerWhat she's studying: I'm on the mass communication track at SJMC, with a focus on media ethics and law. There are times, though, when I wish I would have chosen the professional journalism track, especially after taking News Reporting and Writing. I caught the "reporter" bug for a while. I'm also double majoring in philosophy.

Who she's studying with: Jane Kirtley is one of my favorites. Her classes are challenging, engaging, and very relevant, especially Mass Communications Law. This class really sealed the deal for me. The first time I opened the book "The First Amendment and the Fourth Estate" I knew that I wanted to work in media law.

Putting her major to work: Last January, I started an internship at the Minnesota News Council, a nonprofit group dedicated to fair and vigorous journalism. Then the one full-time staff person left, and I basically took over. It's been a great opportunity to learn things I never could in a classroom: how to create an operating budget, what happens in a board meeting, how to fix a copy machine.

And in her free time . . . : I'm president of the SJMC chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists this year. Through SPJ, I've been able to meet and network with journalists and students from all over the country. Also, I'm an editorial writer for The Wake student magazine on campus.

In the future: I'm thinking about the Teach for America program, and after a few years, I am planning on going to law school. I'd love to practice media or constitutional law. Whatever happens, I can't wait for the day that I can give back to the SJMC. I have been so lucky to receive generous scholarships to help pay for school, and I just wish I could explain how much those donors' generosity has meant to me.

Kim Johnson

Kim JohnsonWhat she's studying: I'm a double major in broadcast journalism and women's studies, with a minor in political science. Any class where I get to go out into the field and practice telling stories is my favorite. That is what makes the profession of journalism different: We go out and talk with people-- not sit in a classroom reading books.

Who she's studying with: SJMC has great professors and adjunct instructors. Ken Stone has taught several of my classes, and I have to say that he is incredibly dedicated to helping students. He has a way of giving criticism that is easy to take and he makes you want to try harder.

Putting her major to work: Since the U doesn't have a daily television show where broadcast students can get experience, I decided to start a television show called "A Closer Look" last fall. We're now working on our fifth show. We choose an issue for each show and analyze recent local, national, and international news about that issue. Everyone gets to participate in anchoring, reporting, producing, editing--whatever they want to do. It's been a great experience, and I hope that after I graduate other students will continue to keep it going.

And in her free time . . . : Besides leadproducing "A Closer Look," I'm also working at Studio B in Rarig Center as a student tech. This past summer, I worked as a reporter for Eden Prairie Channel 16. I produced and anchored the show "Life on the Prairie," but when classes started this semester I took a step down and now am their weekend reporter.

In the future: Right now the only goal I have is to get a job as a broadcast journalist and be able to support myself doing only that--you know: moving to a small market, working terrible hours with terrible pay. It sounds like a lot of fun--not. But I hope that I can find a job, do well, learn a lot, and eventually move up in the market.

Bryant Switzky

Bryant SwitzkyWhat he's studying: I'm on the professional journalism track. As a returning student--I'm 27--I came to the U with the specific goal of working for public radio, so my emphasis has been general reporting. Advanced Reporting Methods is a great class; it opened my eyes to how much information is available, if you know where to look. I also enjoyed the Magazine Writing class, which convinced me that I'd much rather write for a magazine than a newspaper.

Who he's studying with: Pamela Hill Nettleton is the best. She's the first instructor to make me believe that I'm a good writer and might actually have a future as a journalist. Another favorite is Chris Ison. Even though he's won a Pulitzer Prize, he talks to students as if he's on our level. I admire and appreciate that.

Putting his major to work: I interned at the St. Paul Legal Ledger as a reporter for four months earlier this year. I got the internship through SJMC's Community Newspaper Practicum course. This past summer, I had an internship with American Radio Works, the national documentary unit of American Public Media and Minnesota Public Radio.

And in his free time . . . : Since I'm married and have a mortgage and a dog to look after, I don't have time for the usual extracurriculars. I do volunteer at KFAI radio in Minneapolis for Listening Lounge, their documentary show, and I also volunteer at the U's Radio K.

In the future: My goal is to work for public radio, although I expect I will also do some freelance magazine writing along the way. I'll likely spend the next few years scrapping it out in a smaller public radio market before moving on to bigger and better things. If all goes as planned, I'll eventually be producing stories for NPR's news magazine shows.