Rachel Weatherford of Breckenridge Hills, Mo., who is double-majoring in mass communication, journalism and English options, was chosen to be a member of the Working Press at the national Radio Television Digital News Association and Society of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., this year. She is one of 12 from across the United States selected for this internship.
“We will network with professionals from all over the nation who gather in Florida for this amazing opportunity, and I will establish good connections attending this conference for my future endeavors,” she said. “I love learning new things and gathering information and turning it into a fun, informative and accurate piece of literature. I will get to learn something new every day and have fun.”
As a member of the Working Press, Weatherford will work as a page designer. She and her colleagues will produce a newspaper from scratch, choosing everything from styles to colors to content.
“Page design involves how the paper looks; how the paper looks depends on whether people will pick it up and whether they will read it or not. So we have an important job to do,” she said.
This internship will not be Weatherford’s first since beginning her studies at Southeast. She previously interned with the on-campus radio station KRCU, which broadcasts 24 hours a day to provide practical broadcast experience for Southeast students.
At KRCU, “I learned a lot about hands-on reporting and the positives and negatives of it. I learned so much about southeast Missouri and met so many different kinds of people and interviewed them, including a governor, state representatives, CEOs, a famous NPR (National Public Radio) reporter, etc., and had such great experiences that I figured out I may just want to do this for the rest of my life,” she said.
This fall, Weatherford will complete another internship as a web editor through the Department of Mass Media.
“I'm going to have so much experience,” she said. “I'm pretty excited.”
Weatherford is also the managing editor for The Arrow, Southeast’s student newspaper. She began as a page designer and later was promoted to lead page designer and design editor before obtaining her current position.
“The benefits are working with fun people, enhancing my college experience and actually taking what I'm learning in class out of the theory realm and (putting it) into the real world,” she said.
Weatherford is also active in campus organizations. She is the president of IT Student Ministry, a non-denominational Christian organization with the purpose of building relationships with students, encouraging them in their faith and giving them opportunities to get involved in service and recreational activities.
“I’m a deeply devoted believer in Christ, and my successes are for his glory,” she said.
Weatherford is also the secretary of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society that provides exceptional English majors with opportunities for advancing the study of language and literature, developing skills in creative and analytical writing, and meeting with other scholars and professionals in the discipline of English. Members of Sigma Tau Delta have the opportunity to publish their writing in The Rectangle, the organization’s literary publication. In addition, they may compete for academic scholarships, professional internships and teaching awards. At regional conferences and at an annual international convention, they may present creative and analytical work as well as network with students, faculty and professionals from around the country and abroad.
Weatherford is also the vice president of the Southeast chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, in which students, mostly mass communication majors, network with local and national professionals. The organization informs members of the campus and community about the importance and impact of the First Amendment of the Constitution and how to further its protection and use.
After she graduates, Weatherford said she plans to attend graduate school while working as a newspaper editor. She said her years in college have been amazing.
“I deepened my relationship with God, met some awesome people – some of my best friends – and found out that you can have a lot of fun without doing anything too dangerous or destructive,” she said.
Weatherford said Southeast has given her experiences and opportunities she might not have had at another school.
“Since I had so many opportunities at Southeast and got to work at The Arrow, I developed my résumé and gained attention from the national Society of Professional Journalists, leading to my three-day internship in Florida,” she said. “Plus, with small class sizes, I was able to connect to my professors better.”
In her spare time, Weatherford walks to the river to relax and chat with friends. She also watches movies and has been collecting all of her movie ticket stubs since she arrived at the University.
“I used to hang them on my bookshelf door at my home, but now I'm even making a booklet for them all, and there are a lot: over 100 in four years,” she said.
Weatherford said she also likes soccer, baseball, football and reading.
“I’m both a book and computer junkie – a little old school and a little new school,” she said, adding that she also loves to travel.
“My absolute favorite travel destination is Asia. I’ve gone to Cambodia already and South Korea. I went on a mission trip over there, and it changed my life. My future destinations are Canada, England, Alaska, California, Australia, New York City, Texas, Russia and Italy,” she said. “I love life! I love meeting new people and learning about them and their cultures.”
Weatherford encourages future Southeast students to get involved in at least one student organization, preferably two or three, and to connect to professors.
“Use college as a stepping stone to the future, not a stumbling block,” she said. “I’m leaving college, and with hard work and God’s grace, I’m going to use it to make my life all I want it to be.”