Sacred Heart graduates investigate Journalism

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Jackie Shannon ’18

Across the nation, Sacred Heart Greenwich students extend their journalism studies beyond graduation, working on both newspapers and television shows. Sacred Heart alumna, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) News Correspondent, and “Face the Nation” moderator Ms. Margaret Brennan ‘98 has a well established career as a journalist. Additionally, Sacred Heart alumnae Jessica Johnson ‘15, Alice Millerchip ‘15, and Kim Smith ‘15 were all part of Sacred Heart’s school newspaper, the King Street Chronicle (KSC), and are currently pursuing their passion for journalism in college.
At Sacred Heart, students have the option to sign up for Journalism, an elective in which students work on the school newspaper. The Broadcast Journalism program is an elective that allows students to focus on film production. Both electives are built into students’ schedules, rather than the school offering the programs as after-school activities.
Jessica, Alice, and Kim plan to continue building their careers after graduation from college. Meanwhile, Ms. Brennan has already launched her career and made her mark in the journalism industry.
Mrs. Brennan credits her Sacred Heart Advanced Placement English teacher Sister Kaye Cherry, Religious of the Sacred Heart, for her self-confidence. If a student raised her hand and doubted herself before she spoke, Sister Cherry had a response that still resonates with Ms. Brennan today.
“If you bother to raise your hand, at least have the conviction of your own opinion,” Sister Cherry said, according to Ms. Brennan.

Ms. Margaret Brennan ’98 speaks at Sacred Heart Greenwich’s commencement in 2015. Courtesy of Jason Rearick

Despite writing for the school paper at Sacred Heart, Ms. Brennan did not intend on pursuing journalism until her junior year of college. Ms. Brennan was also a part of Model United Nations, yearbook, and theatre.
Ms. Brennan attended the University of Virginia where she double majored in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern studies, according to uvamagazine.org. After studying abroad at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan as a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar, Ms. Brennan discovered an interest in journalism. That summer, she held an internship at Cable News Network’s (CNN) international news desk.
Following her 2002 graduation, Ms. Brennan was a producer at the Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), eventually becoming a general assignment reporter. Ms. Brennan left CNBC in June 2009 and became an anchor at Bloomberg Television. In 2012, Ms. Brennan joined CBS News, according to cbsnews.com. Ms. Brennan believes she has worked her way up to her current position through her intellectual curiosity.  
“My favorite part of my job is that it is actually a requirement to constantly learn, question, and have the privilege of asking questions of decision-makers,” Ms. Brennan said.  
In 2017, Ms. Brennan assumed the position as White House and Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent. She has worked as the moderator of “Face the Nation,” a show that offers insight into current issues, since February 25.
Ms. Brennan highlights that her biggest challenge as moderator of “Face the Nation” is to present relevant news to the viewers, rather than interesting news.
“Editorially, we try to make sure that we’re focusing in on the things that viewers need to know and should know, and find the best, most informed voices to speak to them,” Ms. Brennan said.
For students pursuing futures in journalism, Ms. Brennan believes that it is important to build trustworthy relationships with readers, viewers, and bosses. She also advises that aspiring journalists seize each opportunity that arises.
“Say yes. Each opportunity is what you make of it and if you make yourself invaluable through hard work, each opportunity will open the way to the next. You have to earn each one and be willing to work for it,” Ms. Brennan said. “As the saying goes, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Learn as much as you can.” 
Jessica is currently a junior studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism in the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. During her time at Sacred Heart, Jessica worked on the KSC and was a member of the Broadcast Journalism program. In this program, she worked as an anchor on Sacred Heart’s monthly news show, Today from the Heart. Her junior year, Jessica was the Opinions Editor for the KSC and the Video Content and Sports Editor senior year.
Jessica credits many of her journalistic skills to her Sacred Heart education. She believes Journalism helped her become confident in her writing and learn necessary skills such as distinguishing active and passive voice. In addition, the Broadcast Journalism program provided Jessica with invaluable film-editing skills. 
“I think taking both Journalism and Broadcast Journalism really helped to shape me into the journalist I am now,” Jessica said. “Both programs taught me how to be a great storyteller. I learned how to ask the right questions, how to make a story flow from beginning to end, and how to put my own personal voice or style on a story.” 
Throughout her time at Syracuse, Jessica has held a number of jobs and internships. In 2016, she worked for International Digital Company, a post-production company. During her 2017 fall semester, Jessica interned at the TODAY Show in Manhattan. Currently, Jessica works for Syracuse’s school-run news station Citrus Television and radio show Z89. After she graduates from Syracuse, Jessica hopes to make a difference in the world through her journalistic skills. 
“I want to make stories that are representative of the people around me, that can inspire people, that leave people curious or thinking, ‘Wow,'” Jessica said. “I want to know that my voice has the power to strike positive change.”
Alice is currently a junior at the University of Richmond. She is double majoring in International Relations and Journalism. While on the KSC, Alice was the Sports and Health Editor her junior year and the Online Content Editor her senior year. Alice also co-founded the weekly Humans of Sacred Heart column with Sarah Jackmauh ’15. After experiencing the KSC‘s interactive and collaborative environment, Alice decided to pursue journalism in college. 
Jackie Shannon ’18

Last year, Alice was the Visual Editor of Richmond’s student newspaper The Collegian. Her classes at Richmond have allowed her to write informative articles and co-produce a documentary. After graduation, Alice plans to pursue media with a special interest in documentary production.  
“Whatever industry I end up going into, I believe that the skills I have learned from Journalism will continue to help me,” Alice said. “Among many other things, journalism has taught me about the importance of communicating effectively, writing clearly and concisely, and being truthful in my work.”
The third recent Sacred Heart graduate is Kim, who was the Online Content Editor and Managing Editor in her junior and senior years at Sacred Heart, respectively. Kim studies at the University of Richmond where she is double majoring in Journalism and Psychology.
Kim appreciates the opportunity Sacred Heart gave her to be a member of the collaborative KSC newsroom in high school, because she has met many college students who have no prior experience with student publications.
“I am very grateful to have gone to a school that allowed me to be so involved, and not only provided me with the opportunity to write and edit but also to learn about how a newsroom really works,” Kim said.  
The Journalism Department at Richmond is small, but it allows for a close-knit community, according to Kim. In order to fulfill the Journalism major requirements, Richmond students must complete nine courses. Two of the nine courses are similar to internships, which allow students to build a portfolio. For example, Kim is currently enrolled in a course called Practicum.
Practicum is comparable to a journalism internship because, in order to complete the course, she must publish a total of 45 hundred words by the end of the semester. So far, Kim has submitted writing to the University of Richmond’s student-produced newspaper, The Collegian, and hopes to submit articles to local Richmond newspapers.  
At the moment, Kim intends to pursue Psychology after graduation. However, she is interested in maintaining her journalism background and the skills she has acquired over the past six years. 
“I know Journalism will always be a part of my life and something I hope to continue doing forever,” Kim said. “I would love to somehow combine Psychology and Journalism, perhaps by writing about my work.”
-Jackie Shannon, Social Media Editor and Co-Video Content Editor
Featured Image by Jackie Shannon ’18