From the DE newsroom to professional careers, here’s what some of our recent alumni are doing now

By Sara Wangler, Staff Reporter

Edited 9/3/2020 5:08 p.m.

The Daily Egyptian draws a wide variety of students from different backgrounds and areas of study to its newsroom.

It’s no surprise, then, that upon leaving the newsroom doors with an SIU diploma, alumni who worked at the DE have traveled far and wide since then, whether it be returning to work in a region close to home or venturing farther out.

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One recent SIU graduate who has since traveled far from campus is The London Times reporter Athena Chrysanthou.

The 2018 grad, who is originally from London, worked at the DE as editor-in-chief during her senior year, and prior to this, worked as a reporter her junior year. 

Chrysanthou knew that staying at SIU as EIC would be the best way to get the experience she needed to pursue journalism further. 

“I wanted to have a lot under my belt as far as experience; the media industry in America versus the U.K. is very different,” Chrysanthou said. 

Following her time at SIU, Chrysanthou began her master’s degree in international journalism at City University in London. 

There are different press rules and standards in the U.S. and the U.K., so I wanted to take that year to learn as much as I could in order to gain broader experience,” Chrysanthou said. “The DE was a springboard to start my career.”

Internships aren’t common in the U.K., especially paid internships, but Chrysanthou was lucky enough to get experience on the sports desk in London while on a break from classes at SIU two to three years ago. 

“I applied last year while I was working on my master’s,” Chrysanthou said. “I went through a series of tests and interviews, but it didn’t work out.” 

Luckily, she was offered a six week paid internship in August of 2019. 

“From my internship, there weren’t any available positions open,” Chrysanthou said. “So I left the Times of London. But luckily in February of this year, I got a call for a position at the Times.”

Another recent graduate, Sarah Gardner, graduated from SIU in 2015 and began working an internship position with the Peoria Journal Star. 

Now a social media manager at National Geographic, Gardner said she knew she couldn’t remain at the Peoria Journal Star forever, so she applied for different jobs and considered working with social media. 

“After three job interviews, one worked out and that just happened to be National Geographic,” Gardener said. “After the news of the job offer, I packed everything I could fit into my car and moved to Washington, D.C.” 

During her freshman year at SIU, Gardner helped out at the DE when needed. By her sophomore year, she began getting more involved, and added photojournalism as a second major. 

Currently with Nat. Geo., Gardner oversees social media accounts and keeps up with the ever-changing internet.

“We have to cater to both old and new viewers of National Geographic,” Gardener said. “How can we become more relevant and discoverable to new audiences is always a big question.” 

A year prior to Gardner, alumnus Tyler Dixon graduated and left his DE position as a sports editor to work at a start-up newspaper in Owensboro, Ky., the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer.

“Growing up, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to junior college and changed majors there,” Dixon said. “I finally transferred to SIU and I filled over the application form and I picked, marked and scratched through until I saw a major that was exciting to me.”

Dixion said he kind of fell into journalism, but from the moment he started he knew it was what he was meant to do, and during his senior year, he said the DE was his life. 

Now in publication for two years, the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer has Dixon working as a one-man-band in the sports department. 

“I came to Owensboro because of a message on Facebook; they said they needed a sports editor and wondered if I wanted it or knew of anyone who wanted it,” Dixion said. 

Dixon stresses the importance of journalism now more than ever.

“If you want to do anything related to people, mass comm journalism touches all of those things,” Dixon said. “It’s really important during a time like this.”

Abbey LaTour, who worked with and graduated the same year as Chrysanthou, has since left the DE to work as a design editor at the News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown, Ky. 

LaTour said she has always had a love for writing, wanting to turn it into a career. 

“I originally wanted to become a writer or an author, but then I thought journalism was a better option financially,” LaTour said. “I realized I would at least get paid more regularly.”

LaTour started out as a reporter at the DE but due to her introverted nature, she decided to switch to something more digital and entered the design side of journalism, starting out doing illustrations and graphics.

“I discovered that I liked design more, I had taken classes in high school,” LaTour said. “I became the design chief after never having done a newspaper page in my life.”

LaTour, like Dixon, believes the media is one of the biggest assets in the world today. 

“Whether something is being reported in your small town or in a different country, it’s important to stay informed,” Latour said. “A Journalists job is to keep people informed.”

Staff reporter Sara Wangler can be reached at swangler@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @sara_Wangler.

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