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"The Only Constant in Journalism is Change"
11.09.12 |
Taking two completely separate paths, Daniel Walmer ’10 and Noelle Barrett ’12 have each ended up as reporters at the Middletown Press and Journal. Walmer’s grandmother, Dorothy Smith Heisey ’49, and uncle, Dr. Terry Heisey ’73, preceded Walmer at LVC while Barrett only arrived at the Valley through the support and persistence of her mother, Roberta Barrett. “When I received my acceptance letter to LVC, she drove down to the College and brought me an LVC sweatshirt,” Barrett said. “I think she knew better than I did that I would find my place here…She’s always been there for me.”

Walmer initially considered attending schools other than the one his uncle and grandmother attended but ultimately ended up at LVC mainly because of the generous Presidential Scholarship program. “Compared to other private, liberal arts colleges, the fact that LVC provided scholarships based on high school merit made it reasonably priced to get a college education,” he said.

Despite the differing paths the duo took to get to LVC, they were each extremely involved on campus—including writing for the college newspaper La Vie Collegienne—and being influenced by a faculty member and newspaper editor, once there.

In addition to writing for La Vie, Walmer was an officer in a group that planned Down to Earth worship services, a member of both the College Conservatives and Servants of Christ, and helped found Mars Hill, a campus Christian organization that held events “to engage intellectual discussions about Christianity among Christians and non-Christians,” according to Walmer.

Barrett, though working 40 hours per week in addition to attending school full-time, was also involved in multiple student organizations while still finding time to write for La Vie. She had three poems that she wrote for a class with Dr. Phil Billings, professor of English, published in the campus literary journal, Green Blotter, and was involved with several multicultural affairs campus groups including the Social Justice Institute, Freedom Rings, and ASIA (Asian Society in Action). “La Vie was my primary academic activity; I wrote mostly features about a range of interesting topics including K2, various bands performing on campus and other entertainment, and even athletics,” she said.

In addition, Barrett found time to play on the women’s rugby team all four years. “My coaches, Bob Rhubright and Rick Wilhelm, dedicated so much of themselves to help the team. They have always been there for me on and off the pitch, and are my heroes,” she said. “Bob and Rick taught me a lot about rugby, but really taught me about life. I don’t have a lot of family, and they were and still are like family to me.”

The influence of Bob Vucic, LVC lecturer in English and La Vie advisor, and Garry Lenton, former editor of the Middletown Press and Journal, are other commonalities between the two professional reporters. “I know that LVC is not known for its journalism as much as music, business, and science. However, the journalism faculty is great and you will benefit from their dedication. I can’t thank Bob Vucic enough; he changed my life,” Barrett said.

Vucic has also been instrumental in Walmer’s career, guiding him through several paid internships and ultimately the full-time position at the newspaper. He was also greatly influenced by Dr. Philip Benesch, LVC associate professor of political science, whom he calls “brilliant.” Walmer said “Bob Vucic and Philip Benesch are exceptional in the amount they care about the students over and above what the job requires. The English Department in general cares a lot about the success of their students outside the classroom.”

This guidance was of great value during one of the most challenging stories they had to cover in their young careers—the first anniversary of a devastating flood that hit Middletown in September of 2011. “We wanted to do a retrospective one year later…One thing that really struck me was a guy outside painting 11 months after the flood—still doing recovery—it emphasized to me how devastating it was to people and what a major impact it had on people’s lives,” said Walmer. “I think each person I met has touched me in some way, and I keep a piece of them with me,” said Barrett. “Sometimes I leave interviews, especially after meeting a woman whose family was a victim of the flood, and I’m in tears…Everyone I meet changes me in some sort of way, and that’s when I know I’m supposed to do this.”

Barrett and Walmer found their niche and advise students interested in pursuing careers in journalism to work harder than ever to make it in this quickly changing field. “Get an internship, take many different types of classes, reach out to professors for help, and network. Professors still care about you after you graduate and are willing to help you.”

They know they are fortunate to have a full-time position in the struggling field of print journalism, even if they still have to freelance on the side to make ends meet. “There is so much turmoil…In my head I always hear Bob Vucic telling me ‘the only constant in journalism is change,’” said Barrett. “It’s hard but it’s worth it if it is something you love.”


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