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MAY 12

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Alum Reflects on Her Role as Healthcare Editor During COVID-19

Sara Smith earned her English and political science degrees at Lebanon Valley College

Employers everywhere increasingly seek out graduates with a liberal arts degree due to their wide range of skills and abilities. 

Sara Smith ’05 understood the growing value of a liberal arts education, which drew her to LVC. As an English and political science double major, Smith fell in love with the College’s humanities offerings. From history and art history, to environmental science, religion, and philosophy, Smith immersed herself in several areas of study. 

“I even found myself taking away useful skills from my math class, which I thought was my worst subject,” said Smith. “I learned how different voting systems affect the outcome of elections—something still useful to me as more jurisdictions try out ranked-choice voting.

“Clubs and study abroad were also big influences. LVC provides these opportunities to students, out on our own and (relatively) independent for the first time, to explore and figure out what's most important to us. That’s the best part of going to college, I think.”

Beyond the classroom, Smith was eager to explore the job field and possible branches she could take with her majors. One of these explorations led Smith to an internship at Pennsylvania Legislative Services (PLS), a Harrisburg-based legislative tracking company. At PLS, Smith acquired a first-hand taste of political journalism, which provided a foundation for her career goals. 

After graduating from LVC, Smith obtained her graduate degree in journalism from Syracuse University’s renowned Newhouse School. From there, Smith held a range of jobs from reporter to copy editor at a local news station and CQ Roll Call, a publishing company based in Washington, D.C. Currently, Smith works at Politico, an American political journalism company. She started her career with them as a night editor before accepting the healthcare editor position. 

“My primary job is editing the Politico healthcare team’s various newsletters,” said Smith. “I work in the evenings, so I handle breaking news, which means I coordinate with other editors on coverage needs, assign reporters, and edit stories they write.”

Smith’s team has covered political interference in health agencies, shortages in testing supplies and PPE, racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 cases, the rise of telehealth, COVID vaccines and therapies, and the federal government's response to the pandemic in general. 

“I took the job as a healthcare editor a month before coronavirus emerged,” said Smith. “Trying to cover the virus and live through it at the same time is strange, but it is a privilege to work with such dedicated people to keep the public informed about such an important topic.

“I did not expect to find myself on the health beat as the nation faces its gravest public health threat in a generation, but I feel lucky to be where I am in my career.” 

 

-- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant