-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Lena Wallace '14 with Katie Couric
Wallace on the set of WAVY-TV/WVBT-TV
Randolph-Macon College student Lena Wallace ’14 is an English major and journalism and communication studies minor from Chesapeake, Virginia who believes in keeping an open mind. She originally thought she would major in biology, but after taking a First-Year Experience (FYE) course with Professors Bryan Giemza (English) and Alphine Jefferson (history), she decided to pursue English. The course, Magnolias, Militias and Moonlight, changed everything.
“I fell back in love with writing,” says Wallace. “I just love studying the dynamics of literature. It isn’t just reading; it is taking the information you read and forming your own opinions. Professors Giemza and Jefferson opened my eyes to critical and analytical thinking.”
Internships Since her sophomore year, internships have kept Wallace on her toes. In 2012, she was an intern at WAVY-TV/WVBT-TV in Portsmouth, Virginia, where she had the opportunity to follow reporters and get firsthand experience in producing a news broadcast. She reported, worked with public relations, and got a behind-the-scenes view of directing, producing, web design, and how ratings are tallied.
“My boss, Stephanie Cooke, gave me this advice: ‘Just because a door looks red doesn’t mean it’s not green on the other side. There is always opportunity.’”
The following year she interned during January Term (J-term) at the Petersburg Progress-Index in Petersburg, Virginia.
“My boss at the Progress-Index told me he was going to ‘throw me in the deep end’ so that I’d learn quickly,” she recalls. “I had to go into the Tri-city area with photographers to interview locals, and then I went back to write stories to meet a deadline. This is where my R-MC journalism classes came into play. I am so thankful for Journalism Professor Brian Couturier, who worked with me during my internship to help me advance my writing skills. I felt like a real reporter. He also took the time to talk about graduate schools with me.”
During summer 2013, Wallace is interning at Richmond Magazine, where she works as an editorial intern, and in the R-MC Marketing and Communications department.
“Internships are great because you can learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and stretch your comfort zone,” she says. She attributes much of her success to Cathy Rollman and The EDGE, the cornerstone of the Center for Personal and Career Development. “Cathy Rollman is wonderful,” says Wallace. “She helped me build my résumé and prepare for my internships.”
Campus OrganizationsWallace is currently the CEO of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She strongly supports her fraternity’s philanthropic outreach to CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and to St. Joseph’s Villa, the oldest and largest continuously operating nonprofit organization for needy children and families in metropolitan Richmond.
Wallace also serves as president of Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society, and is a tour guide, a member of the Judicial Council, a member of Leadership Fellows, and editor-in-chief of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. Recently, her college experience came full circle when she interviewed Katie Couric, who was R-MC’s 2013 Commencement speaker.
Good Advice “Get involved and follow your passion,” she says when asked to give advice to new Yellow Jackets. “Join organizations that spark your interest, and then figure out what you like and what you don’t. There are lots of opportunities for leadership at R-MC.”
Kudos Wallace has been on the Dean’s List and is a member of Rho Lambda, a national Greek leadership honor society. She was also named Pannill Scholar for 2013-2014 by the English Department. She received the 2013 Tidewater Alumnae PanHellenic Leadership Scholarship, a fund that is given by Greek alumni from her hometown to support students involved in Greek life.
Future PlansWallace’s future plans include studying abroad in Italy during J-term 2014. She looks forward to graduate school and getting a job in broadcasting.
“I love the thrill of meeting deadlines and interviewing people,” she says. “It’s a challenge to make sure the story produced on time and ethically. It’s important to be a risk-taker, and to stay positive and humble. And never set limitations on your abilities.” Read more Student Experience stories.