Alumnus Michelle McDaniel graduated in 2016 and went to the University of Dallas. While in high school McDaniel participated in art and was an editor for therideronline.com.
What have you done after high school?
“I am currently a junior at the University of Dallas with a major in philosophy and a concentration in journalism,” McDaniel said. “It’s a small, Catholic, liberal arts school in Irving, TX. I spend my summers working at a life-changing summer camp for kids ages 7-17, The Pines Catholic Camp. That’s been a real delight and highlight of my experience as a Christian. As a writer, I write a weekly column in my college newspaper, and I’ve been working as a freelance writer for two years at a newsmagazine for North Texas: The North Texas Newsmagazine. This semester, I intern at that same newsmagazine. Last semester, I studied abroad and lived in Italy with my best friend while taking 16 credits. I got to travel all over Europe, and I finished my language studies. I traveled to ten different countries outside of the US that semester, and had all kinds of adventures. I was the Rome correspondent for my newspaper.”
What made you want to do what you are doing now?
“Right now, I’m juggling school and my internship. I am a philosophy major with a concentration in journalism,” McDaniel said. “I originally wanted to attend UNT’s journalism school, but UD sent me a free application. I did it for fun since it had free essays, and I was accepted. I ended up touring UD just for fun, even though I had already accepted UNT’s offer. I stepped onto UD’s campus and felt God’s presence and an intense need to go here, and so I did. This school doesn’t have a journalism major, so decided on English until I fell in love with philosophy. I was worried at first with future job aspects considering the fact that I wasn’t a journalism major, but immediately after high school, without me applying, I started getting internship offers from newspapers, and one asked me to freelance for them. God has a plan. I got the idea for journalism after taking Journalism 1 with Mallett my freshman year of high school. I took it because the creative writing course wasn’t open that year, and it was a wonderful decision. I fell in love with it. Thank goodness creative writing wasn’t offered that year.”
How did what you learn or experience in high school affect you in college and beyond?
“Taking journalism in high school helped me better understand society and professional human interactions,” McDaniel said. “It helped me overcome my shyness and learn valuable skills such as writing in different styles, editing, interviews, etc. I’ve kept both the social and the writing-based skills with me into college.”
Explain your job now.
“Right now, I work as a freelance journalist,” McDaniel said. “That means my editors assign me events to cover. I attend them, gather information, conduct interviews, and synthesize it into articles which I then send into the newspaper. The new internship side of it means I go into the office three days a week and they teach me how to publish articles online, edit, use Adobe programs such as indesign, photoshop, and more. They treat me as if I were a staff member, which is immensely helpful when my major doesn’t deal with journalism-specific issues.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I would love to continue writing after I graduate, McDaniel said. “It would be nice to find a position that isn’t freelancing. I may also go into a different type of writing for companies. I’ll see what opportunities present themselves. I would like to take more internships over the next year to help me find a paper I want to continue with so I’m not settling due to a lack of full knowledge of my opportunities. Sometime after college, I would like to get married.”
What is your advice to current high schoolers?
“Don’t worry,” McDaniel said. “Work hard at the things you love, and don’t stress. Just do your best. There are so many things that can be stressful in high school, but the majority stop mattering as soon as you graduate high school. Figure out what you love and pursue that. Be the best person you can be. I’m not saying that the issues people face in high school aren’t legitimate, but there’s no point in stressing or worrying over the majority of them. Remember that you are not done finding and forming yourself, and that you never will be. Through life, you will constantly change and improve, so forgive yourself for the mistakes you make and move forward. If you want to do better, then do better next time. Keep that in mind with the people around you, too. They aren’t done growing either, and so let them have the room to move on from their past actions and become better people. Loving people isn’t just a feeling. It’s also a choosing to forgive and hope for better for people.”