English Graduate Freelances for National and Regional Publications
When New York Magazine needed coverage of the Bill Cosby trial and rapper Meek Mills’ incarceration and its fallout, LVC graduate Natalie McDonald ’97 received the assignments.
McDonald, an English alumna, is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia and writes for national and regional publications on a variety of topics.
“For the PhillyVoice, I tend to cover a wide range of stories related to arts, culture, community relations and politics,” she said. “Reporting on marginalized communities is especially important to me. For example, for Next City, a national magazine about urban culture, I explored the challenging relationship between law enforcement and the transgender community around the country. I've also written about environmental issues and interviewed celebrities over the years, including Annie Leibovitz, who was perhaps the most interesting.”
Prior to freelancing, McDonald spent several years as a full-time writer and editor at North American Publishing Company and Philadelphia Magazine, where she edited technology and lifestyle publications, respectively, and even helped launch a new consumer magazine as editor-in-chief.
“These were great experiences in terms of learning how the business works from the inside out, but I also learned that I much prefer writing than editing or dealing with the business side of publishing,” said McDonald.
The flexibility of her schedule also allows McDonald time to pursue her artistic passion. A painter, photographer, and illustrator, she has had her works appear in both private and corporate collections. In Philadelphia, she recently created her first-ever installation of art focused on LGBT iconography.
McDonald strengthened her writing and artistic talents during her time at LVC. She credits her time writing for the College’s newspaper, La Vie Collegienne, as especially meaningful.
“I could not possibly know at the time we were scrambling to get the paper to print each week what a teaching moment this would be for me as a journalist later in life,” she said. “I would encourage anyone who's interested in pursuing a career in media or journalism to get involved with local and college media opportunities—whether blogs, podcasts, papers, you name it. It's a great opportunity to really learn, make mistakes, and learn some more.”
McDonald also enrolled in a variety of art classes—enough to finish with a minor in art. She completed an internship with former professor Dr. David Brigham, who is now the president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), and someone she often sees at events in Philadelphia.
“I feel lucky to have been able to study art history with him. He's a truly smart and forward-thinking person who has done some amazing things at both LVC and PAFA,” she said. “I learned through that internship that I really like working on my own and I have the dedication to make it work. It would take quite a few years to make it happen, but that experience planted the seed.”
McDonald also credited her classwork with opening her mind to different styles of writing, creating opportunities for discussion, and teaching her about cultures.
“I would hope that a student wouldn't discount the importance of liberal arts classes because they may not seem (at first) like they will offer ‘practical’ training,” she said. “They do so much more. These classes can enrich us in new and exciting ways that can't be easily quantified.
“Bottom line: Don't pigeonhole yourself. College is a great time to explore intellectually, and LVC is a wonderful place to do it.”