Spartan alumni find success in the real world

Molly DeMellier, a former Castleton Spartan editor, has recently taken the position of assistant director of the Castleton Fund and Donor Relations as she finishes her degree from New York University. 

Heroin, homelessness and senior citizens were not the top things on Callie Ginter’s mind as she edited The Spartan last fall, but now, as a general assignment and beat reporter for the Keene Sentinel, she is expected to be the expert on these topics.

“They’re two really hard things to cover and then one light and fluffy thing,” she said of her job at the daily paper in New Hampshire. “I also cover city news.”

Like many former editors, designers and writers for The Spartan, Ginter is now using the skills she learned at Castleton while working in the field.

Last spring, she completed an internship at The Rutland Herald, which she said prepared her for the heavier workload and atmosphere of the newsroom.  

“The Herald helped with going from a biweekly paper to the daily paper like the sentinel: time management, getting your own stories, editing things in time,” she said. “The Herald got me prepared for walking into a news room and the vibe you get.’”

She also credits Spartan advisor and Communication Professor Dave Blow and his teaching style.

“Dave’s extra time where he teaches people how to edit stories is what helped me compared to other reporters here. I have more experience with certain things just because Dave took that extra time,” Ginter said of Blow.

And for students who want to follow in her footsteps to a newsroom, Ginter offered some advice.

“Read a lot and write a lot,” Ginter said. “Trust the experience you gained and trust what people who have gone through it have told you.”

Blow, a Castleton and Spartan alum himself, had his first newspaper job in Granville, N.Y. He recalls back to the late 1980’s when he was a reporter, photographer, sports writer, and classified ad designer all in one. When he first started, design was done by hand from developing photos to using a wax roller to make pages before sending them to the printers.

But a lot has changed since then.

Today at Manchester Newspapers in Granville, Castleton alumna Sara Harrison does all the page design on a computer – the way she did while serving as page designer for The Spartan.

While at Castleton, Harrison was a communication major with a digital media concentration and a double minor in business and art.

“Everything I learned at The Spartan I have been able to use here. I’ve brought a few ideas to them here that we used at The Spartan too,” she said.

Her advice to seniors looking for jobs is to apply early.

“I didn’t realize how long an interview process can take. Start early,” she said.

Sara Harrison, former Castleton Spartan page designer, now works as a page designer at Manchester Newspapers in Granville, N.Y. 

Jorah McKinley, former Spartan editor and member of the class of 2015 has some different advice.

“Don’t feel pressure to take the first job you’re of

fered. I turned down a job I didn’t think was right,” she said. “I took a year off. I travelled and I think that’s the most valuable thing.”

After graduation she took a gap year internship working for Fiji Magazine, an in-flight magazine that sends interns all around the South Pacific. McKinley had the chance to travel to the Solomon Islands for free while writing and doing something she loved.

This spring, she completed another internship with tour company Sail Croatia and sailed up and down the Adriatic Sea filming the experience.

“I was following a tour company and they posted on Facebook one day looking for a videographer. I got an email a couple days later. So if you pay attention in Video 2 class you can cruise for free,” she chuckled.

McKinley is now using her degree as a copy editor in Shelburne, Vt. at Nova Natural Toys and Crafts.

Another alumna and former Spartan editor working in Vermont is Molly DeMellier, who returned to Castleton in July as the assistant director of the Castleton Fund and Donor Relations.  

DeMellier, a December 2014 graduate, moved to Manhattan after school to earn her master’s degree in public relations and corporate communication from New York University; a degree she will complete after one more semester.

“I always wanted to try New York. My dad was a travel agent and we would do trips to the city,” she said. “NYU was the perfect place, but I really quickly realized it wasn’t where I want to be forever. Castleton is where I love.”

While at NYU, DeMellier had a graduate assistantship working with donor relations, similar to what she will be doing here in Vermont working with sports donors to benefit athletics.

Although she found out that the city wasn’t for her, she learned a valuable lesson.

“Don’t be afraid of anything. I learned so much about myself and I never need to wonder what it would be like in a city,” she said. “The whole world is open to you and you have so many opportunities ahead.”

DeMellier’s time working with The Spartan helped her develop skills necessary for grad school and her current position.

“I felt I knew everyone on campus. It really helped talking about something you might not know much about and with people who don’t think the same way I do,” she said, adding that The Spartan also taught her leadership and the ability to balance your responsibilities. 

Because of the changing landscape of news today, Blow encourages students to take several internships and fill up their metaphorical tool kits with video, writing, editing, design and social media skills.

As advisor to the Spartan he has seen many students go on to work in the field and is proud to see what each of them accomplishes. 

“It’s the most rewarding aspect of this job: seeing that passion I have and students sharing it with their readers,” he said, citing a recent story by Ginter about a homeless teen. “I would have loved to write that!”



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