Celia Young ’17 understands that making an impact starts at the local level.
Being a journalist was not the career Celia Young had imagined while at Madison Country Day School. She was more likely to be found studying science than English. After taking an IB psychology class at MCDS Celia thought she might continue down that path and took a prerequisite while at Brandeis. However, she realized that what she really loved was problem solving.
After finding a flier on the ground about her college newspaper, The Brandeis Hoot, she decided to join. Initially she joined to make friends and learn about the community at Brandeis. Her first assignments at the newspaper were reporting on clubs, meetings, events, academic talks, and lectures. These were things that most students who were just going from class to their dorms might be missing, but that were intrinsic to the community and culture at her school. As she became more involved with “The Hoot” and fell more in love with journalism, Celia eventually became editor of the news section and then co-editor-in-chief.
The Brandeis Hoot is a community newspaper written for, by and about the members of the Brandeis community. As the co-editor-in-chief, Celia ran staff meetings and read and edited articles before publication, making sure everything was correct and OK to print. She would also review the layout to make sure everything looked the way the team wanted. In addition to all of the day-to-day tasks, she helped writers who needed advice and dealt with ethical considerations.
Celia credits MCDS and Brandeis for helping her with two important things that have helped her as a journalist: Learning to write fast, and how to get words down on the page. For many people who are looking to break into journalism they can feel stuck and unsure of how to start. “Even if they are the most awful words you’ve ever written, get them down, and you can always go back and edit.”
“The writing was never the immediate draw. It was getting to do something new every day and learning something new every day that I loved. If I had settled on a different career I wouldn’t have that in my life.”
—Celia Young ’17
Celia ended up majoring in politics with a minor in journalism and legal studies. She now writes for the Commercial Observer, a print publication and arm of the iconic New York Observer. She began as a breaking news reporter, and is now a staff reporter with articles that you can find featured in its print issue. Celia has been covering office culture in television, and in June published a feature, “How ‘Severance’ and ‘WeCrashed’ Hold an Uncomfortable Mirror to the Post-COVID Office”.[link to article: https://bit.ly/3ah2059] The article talks about how you can feel alienated from your work self and feel dissatisfied at work. She poses important questions such as, “What is the world going to look like if they do go back to the office (post-covid)?” and “How do we keep people happy?”
Celia’s interest in journalism was piqued when she worked as an editorial intern for Madison Magazine. She feels deeply passionate about local news sources, believing that “being involved with local news is one of the best ways you can have a positive impact on your community.” Local newspapers and magazines create a system of accountability, which enhances the culture of their communities. “Everyone should subscribe and get a local newspaper,” recommends Celia.
It’s clear Celia is in the exact place she wants to be; she loves writing and loves her job. But, like many of her fellow MCDS alums, Celia plans to eventually get a masters degree, and possibly move into an editing or managerial role. She knows the value of supporting people who do the really important work of journalism.
Celia’s advice for students who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism is, not surprisingly, “Words on paper!” and figuring out what you care about. Writing about that will make you the best journalist you can be. Celia noted that all of her classmates at MCDS were passionate. “MCDS fosters a sense of curiosity for the world around you.” And, according to Celia, what makes you a good journalist is being really engaged. If you have that, you can and will be a good journalist and writer.
from Onward magazine, Vol. 17 (Fall 2022–2023)