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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Jessica Strait '12

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Major: Journalism

Extracurricular Involvement:

  • Mock Convention Web Chair
  • Weekly anchor for the Rockbridge Report
  • Kappa Delta Standards Board
  • Work study in the Registrar's Office

Off-Campus Experiences:

  • Summer 2011 internship at NBC News Partnerships in NYC
  • Summer 2010 Marketing internship at West Virginia Department of Agriculture

Why did you choose W&L? I really liked the idea of getting to know my professors and also the freedom to take a range of classes in all disciplines. And I loved the history of the university and the beautiful brick buildings on campus.

How did you choose your major? I've always loved to read and write, and when I was younger I wanted to be the next Katie Couric. Ask my parents.


Favorite W&L Memory: Streaking the Colonnade. Also, the band parties and festivities of the Mock Convention Spring Kickoff.

Favorite Class: Professor Luecke's spring term course, "The Journalist in Fiction & Film"

Favorite W&L Activity: Homecoming and Christmas Weekend--it's a tie.

Favorite Lexington Landmark: Lexington Coffee Shop. I'm also a huge fan of the lovable golden retriever outside of the antique shop on Washington Street.


What do you wish you'd known before you came to campus? I wish I had known to buy a pair of cowboy boots! They come in handy out on Windfall Hill. Also, brace yourself: there's no Starbucks nearby--but I promise, you'll survive.

Advice for prospective or first-year students? Come to W&L with an open mind about everything--friends, Greek life, majors and life plans. And don't overpack!



I walked past the iconic golden fountain statues and pushed open the heavy swinging doors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. As I made my way to the NBC Visitor's Center to take the photo for my summer ID, which would give me access to the elevator banks and control rooms, I couldn't believe that I was here. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Then, trying not to break into a giddy skip, I headed upstairs to my new desk.

Last summer, I interned for NBC News Partnerships in New York City. Among other responsibilities, my duties consisted of attending daily Nightly News with Brian Williams meetings, corresponding with the 200+ NBC affiliate stations around the country, logging tapes and marking ins and outs, running errands at lightning speed, feeding footage to News Channel Charlotte and conducting live satellite interviews between station producers and talent, including Shaun White and Denise Richards. When morning anchors from NBC affiliate stations came to NYC to film behind-the-scenes Today Show footage and interviews, I stood on the Plaza, taking interactive photos for their Facebook and Twitter pages. One of the most memorable days was when I was allowed to sample food from the Today Show kitchen segment--and trust me, it tastes as good as it looks. Other nights, I stayed late to help out with live Nightly News special reports. All in all, it was an amazing summer, one that wouldn't have been possible without W&L's reputation and professional connections. And thanks to the university's prestigious journalism department and professors, not once did I feel overwhelmed or unprepared.

Most journalism majors will tell you that, more than anything, our major is fun. On election night, we order endless boxes of pizza--because we're all there covering stories and updating the website until well past 10 p.m. At the end of the term, Professor Cumming and Professor Somani hosted our J253/263 class for dinner, and Professor Cumming even entertained us with his musical abilities! Because of the small class sizes, you make close friends and your professors trust you enough to give you their personal cell phone numbers--just in case.

It's also tough. It's time-consuming, challenging, and you spent a lot of time in the j-lab stressed out, editing pieces and cutting packages on deadline. But it's worth it. Because of the real-life experience I gained in Rockbridge Report, W&L's weekly news broadcast, I was quick to adapt to the demands and expectations of my summer internship. The best thing about the journalism major is the way it pushes you to get out in the Rockbridge community and realize that there's so much more to Lexington than just the W&L campus. On my weekly beat, I interviewed everyone from farmers to convenience store workers, doctors to--my personal favorite--local shag dancers.

I came to W&L knowing that I wanted to major in journalism, but I never imagined how much I'd learn once I got here. Reid Hall has nurtured and developed my personal skills and interests, and I know that when I leave here next May, I'll be ready for whatever curve balls the real world may throw my way.