By Amanda Eisenberg ’16
Note: Amanda wrote this article during the spring, 2016 semester. We’ve incorporated some updates to job titles as necessary.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – At Merrill College, it isn’t hard to get involved right away. These young Terps prove how easy it is to work for a publication or broadcast station, even before they step foot on the campus. Check out mini profiles on these seven freshmen and sophomore standout journalism majors as they share their stories and experiences at the college.
Featured Merrill College students include Michael Brice-Saddler, Samantha Reilly, Scott Gelman, Anna Muckerman, Casey Kammerle and Pablo Roa.
Michael Brice-Saddler, rising junior, assistant news editor at The Diamondback
Michael Brice-Saddler started writing about Dining Services as a staff writer for The Diamondback before covering the crime beat. His crime blotter details some strange happenings that occur in College Park, and students seem to notice. “When people approach me and tell me they read something I wrote, it’s the best feeling ever,” he said.
Brice-Saddler will move into an assistant news editor position at the paper before the end of the semester, and he’s also interning at Streetsense, a street newspaper based in Washington, D.C. “I’m reporting on all types of things related to homelessness like legislation and homeless encampment closures,” he said.
He was referred to his internship by an alumna of the living and learning program CIVICUS, which Brice-Saddler is in. He said his internship “fit right in with the themes of CIVICUS and my goals for journalism, so it was the perfect fit for me.
Although a friend referred him, it was his work at The Diamondback that helped him secure an internship. “I had covered a lot of different things just being at The Diamondback. So I was well rounded already. The person interviewing me basically hired me during the interview so it was really exciting.”
Samantha Reilly, rising junior, co-editor in chief at Unwind magazine
Samantha Reilly has kept busy in her two years on the campus, notably running Unwind magazine as co-editor in chief and also working on staff at The Diamondback. Reilly said she made sure to get involved early. “I think I can attribute a lot of my growth in the journalism school and the journalism atmosphere at Maryland to my first couple weeks on campus,” she said. “As soon as I got on campus, or even before actually, I was eating up journalism list serv emails and looking at all the different opportunities and kind of in a really proactive mode and bouncing on anything I could.”
Reilly said that despite rejections for positions at campus publications, she received a lot of positive feedback from editors and didn’t let her lack of experience deter her; she made sure to work with upperclassmen and eventually joined various staffs. “I think that working with upperclassmen was one of the biggest assets to me,” Reilly said. “They really understood where I was coming from, both before and after I took certain classes, and they were able to tell me how to capitalize on some of the skills I was learning in class and learn how to apply it to outside publications or outside work.”
She attributed her work at both publications to helping her secure jobs and internships because she was “getting in there and doing the work of an actual journalist.” And for incoming freshmen, Reilly encourages them to be brave and reach out to editors. “Now that I’m in a leadership role, I understand that editors and people in leadership positions really appreciate that and appreciate whoever that is reaching out and saying, ‘I want to work for you,’” she said. “That willingness to learn and show that will take you far.”
Scott Gelman, rising sophomore, sports writer for The Diamondback
Scott Gelman said he entered Merrill College knowing it was the place for him, especially because he could get involved immediately. “It quickly became clear to me that in some places, getting a gig with the paper as a new student is a function of saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ enough times,” he said. “That wasn’t the case for me here. I came in with experience, it was valued and I received opportunities.”
Gelman found The Diamondback as an “ideal” place to work, where he worked as a general assignment reporter, a copy editor, a news reporter and now a sports reporter covering women’s lacrosse. He said everyone on staff has been instrumental in improving his writing. Gelman also said he made sure to communicate his interest in journalism to people who could help him. “As soon as I confirmed my admission, I emailed the newspaper’s general address to find out how to get involved,” he said. “That’s just my personality.”
He suggests for incoming freshmen to do the same. “My advice would be to try different things and figure out where you fit,” Gelman said. “It will take time, but you will figure it out. Challenge yourself and get involved. Nobody cares how old you are or how much experience you have here. We are all journalists and are passionate about the same thing.”
Anna Muckerman, rising junior, news director for WMUC Radio News
Anna Muckerman confided that she secured the news director position at the campus radio station in an atypical way. “At the end of my freshmen year, the position of news director opened up, and usually people get the position because they’re the smartest or they worked the hardest, and I had worked really hard, but I got the position because no one else wanted it.”
Muckerman went on to “start from scratch,” hiring new producers and reporters and starting new shows, to turn WMUC from a place where “a bunch of people talk with their friends” to an important source of campus news.
“I think because I saw it as an opportunity, I didn’t see it as a burden,” Muckerman said. “A lot of people were like, oh this would be a lot of work, but I saw it as a chance to create something new and meet new people, and leave an impact on campus.”
She urges incoming freshmen to do the same: If you’re the type of person who sits back in class and doesn’t make connections and doesn’t talk to people, then you’re not going to have nearly as much fun or get as far in this journalism school,” Muckerman said. “But if you really want something and go after it, you can accomplish a lot really quickly.”
Casey Kammerle, rising junior, managing editor for The Diamondback
Casey Kammerle credits the journalism list serv to helping him climb the ranks at The Diamondback. He saw an email from associate dean Olive Reid and applied to work as a copy editor at the paper. By the end of the semester, he will have been promoted to managing editor for his junior year.
“If you apply … early in your college career, it’s just really easy to get somewhere and work your way up because you have all four years to sort of climb,” Kammerle said. “I know it’s cliche, but get involved early. The earlier you do it, the more likely you’ll get something to stick.”
Carly Kempler, sophomore, assistant news editor at The Diamondback
Kempler knew she wanted to get involved early with The Diamondback before she arrived on the campus, and started working as a news blogger for the paper by her freshmen year. She soon applied to work as a news staff writer, and by her second semester of her sophomore year, she was promoted to assistant news editor.
But getting to that position wasn’t the easiest for Kempler, who said she had little experience before college. “I did journalism for four years in high school but it didn’t really prepare me for what this is,” Kempler said. “It was really one class and then you wrote for the paper, which came out, if we were lucky, three times a year.”
It was an upperclassmen on staff who helped Kempler strengthen her writing skills, which ultimately helped her secure an editor position. “It’s so important to work with upperclassmen because honestly, what I’ve been telling to other interviewers, is that I basically learned my writing at The Diamondback,” she said. “I think writing is the most important skill, but it’s a lot easier to learn how to write than it is to learn how to use those giant broadcast cameras, so that’s why I chose to do broadcast so I could get those multimedia skills.”
Pablo Roa, freshman, volunteer for Capital News Service
Like most underclassmen, Pablo Roa heard about CNS through the student email list serv. “I actually had no expectations of what it could be,” he said. “I never considered broadcast; I was multiplatform when I started. Never touched a camera, never did anything.”
But from there, Roa learned quickly how to work in the studio. He said the best thing was working alongside upperclassmen who “know so much” and were willing to answer any of his questions. “They have this policy that no question is a stupid question and that’s true because I just ask so many questions,” Roa said. “I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why the volunteering system at CNS works great, especially for freshmen who haven’t had the experience.”
Despite only spending a year at the college, Roa said he gained so many experiences just by showing up. He suggests to “make yourself known, and don’t wait.”