Claire Lordan


Pathways to the Helping Professions:
Learning through service

Careers of interest among the students range from clinical psychology to social work.              — Photo by Claire Lordan

The structure of the classroom is not in itself unusual. Six students, situated at desks strewn throughout the classroom, face a board where a teacher presents slides. They take notes, and raise their hands to ask questions.

The subject content, however, is anything but traditional.

Emblazoned on the board are bold letters that spell out “Theories of Poverty,” followed by a laundry list of statistics and various real-life scenarios. In the Miami University Summer Scholars “Pathway to Helping Professions” module, students learn through a discussion-based curriculum how to understand familial relationships, and the challenges families face on a day-to-day basis.

Anne Roma, visiting professor of Family Science and Social Work and director of the Master of Arts in Social Work program at Miami, views the course as an introduction to various helping professions, such as social work or education.

“It’s a way for them to meet various types of people, and see the issues affecting them,” Roma says.

In this, her first year in the Summer Scholars program, Roma welcomes the ability to work with high school students curious about her field. “They haven’t quite figured it out yet,” Roma admits, although she’s quick to praise her students for their common interest in assisting families in need, particularly those with children. While her students express interest in professions ranging from social work to early-childhood education, they all share “similar threads,” as Roma puts it, such as poverty and childhood trauma. 

Audrey Miller, a rising high school senior and Helping Professions student, notes the program’s ability to break down the college experience. “Social work is such a broad field,” she notes, referring to the wide variety of professions the students have learned about during their time at Miami. Through field trips to nursing homes, art studios showcasing art created by in

dividuals on the autism spectrum, and child therapy centers focused on “play therapy,” Roma’s students are employing a baseline level of social work knowledge and applying it to their career of choice.

Roma hopes her students leave Summer Scholars confident in their profession of interest, as well as how to apply what they’ve learned throughout her program to their individual path to a helping profession.

Five Questions with Reis Thebault

On July 17th, Miami University alumni and breaking news reporter for The Washington Post Reis Thebault spoke with Summer Scholars students about his career in journalism, as well as his time as a Miami student. Later, he agreed to speak with students about his experiences at the Post.

Question: How did your time at Miami prepare you for the professional world of journalism-did you begin school as a declared journalism major? If not, what was your intended major/how did you decide on journalism? How did your work at The Miami Student prepare you for your career?

Answer: Yeah, I began college as a journalism major – it was just about the only thing I was sure of in 2012. Because I knew early on, I could join the paper straight away, and that’s what made all the difference for me at Miami. The Miami Student was like another major. For reporters and editors, it was all consuming. I threw myself into it and by sophomore year was writing every week and editing campus news. As helpful as journalism classes are, the only way you can really learn how to be a reporter is by reporting. You just have to do it. That’s what The Student did for me. It took journalism out of the realm of theoretical and academic, and it made it real. I had to make actual decisions and form my own story judgment and ethical compass. So, as much as I valued the classes – especially Patti’s! – it was getting my hands dirty with The Student that really prepared me for my career.

Q: After leaving school, how did you end up at the Washington Post and what did that process look like-was it difficult getting hired as a college grad?

A: Over the course of my college and graduate school career, I took a number of internships – each one getting me a little closer to a job at The Post. First, I worked for a business magazine in Detroit, then for The Columbus Dispatch, then The Boston Globe and finally interned at The Post in summers 2017 and 2018. Interning here is the best way to get your foot in the door as a young reporter. Once I was here, it was just a matter of working hard, doing a good job and getting a little lucky.

Q: What does your workday at the Washington Post look like? Do you pitch your own stories, or get them assigned? What type of team do you work with?

A: I work on the national breaking news and general assignment team with about 10 other reporters and editors. Our job is to jump on breaking news as it’s happening – whether that’s a mass shooting, a hurricane, a wildfire or some kind of political scandal. We strive to be accurate, fast, and to write well. But there’s not always breaking news. When we’re between big news events, we’re hunting for interesting, strange, outrageous or unjust stories – stuff that can be happening anywhere in the country, and occasionally the world. We usually pitch our own stories, but sometimes editors will approach us with ideas, too.

Q: The first time you spoke with Andrea Chamblee, you mentioned she didn’t know whether or not her husband was alive-how has watching her grapple with that tragedy/take on the project of completing his book affected you? What level of communication have you kept with her the past year? Why did you choose that story specifically to write about, given it’s not a breaking news story?

A: Andrea and I hadn’t spoken since the day of John’s memorial, which was about a week after the shooting. But I occasionally looked her up and followed the op-eds she wrote and speeches she gave. Her strength, resilience and openness was apparent from the day her husband was killed, and that always stuck with me. When I heard about the book project, it seemed like the perfect way to write about her and her life in the last year. And you’re right, it’s not a breaking news story, but it is a follow-up to one of the biggest things to happen in the region in the last year. It’s always good journalistic practice to keep tabs on the people at the center of those breaking news stories and then follow up with them weeks or months later to see how time has impacted them. That’s what I wanted to do here, especially with a story I covered and that remains close to home.

Q: What perspective does being a journalist reporting from D.C. give you? Do you believe being able to cover hot button issues from the capital gives the Post an advantage?

A: Reporting from Washington is like standing in the eye of a storm. There is an air of calm, because the power players are all just doing their jobs, but if you look out, you’ll see a hectic, chaotic storm whipping around you. Being at the center of the US government gives us a huge advantage when it comes to political reporting. We have tremendous access and the best sources. But it also challenges us to keep in mind those whom the policies decided here affect. We’re not only a newspaper for political junkies and operatives on the Hill, we’re a paper for the entire country.

Jenna Levine: Perseverance through passion

Jenna Levine favors bright primary colors in her paintings. — Contributed photo.

Seventeen-year-old Jenna Levine checks all the boxes of an average high school student. A rising senior at Centerville High School, she spends her free time competing for her school’s swim team, dog sitting for her neighbors, and painting faces for kids parties. Despite the normalcy of her interests, however, Levine endures what most students her age cannot dream of; she is nearing her 7th year of living with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal chronic pain disorder that affects her entire body. 

Fibromyalgia is a relatively common pain condition; according to the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) roughly 10 million people in the U.S. alone have been diagnosed. Of those 10 million, approximately 80% of them are women. The majority of adolescent girls with Fibromyalgia receive their diagnosis between the ages of 13 and 15 (making Levine, who received her diagnosis at 11, an outlier). Despite the longevity of her illness, Levine has yet to find suitable treatment for her pain. As of late, she is forced to tolerate her pain with no medicinal relief. 

Until her junior year, she often felt trapped by her illness. “It made it hard to do day-to-day tasks,” Levine says. And then, after enrolling in an art class at school, she began to discover a newfound talent. With the help of teacher Mrs. Valley, Levine began to foster a passion for painting, something she had never expressed an interest in before. While her grandmother (an artist herself) had often encouraged her to pursue the arts, it took patience and guidance from her teacher to develop what has now become a source of joy. “For me, it’s an outlet,” Levine states. “It’s a way for me to express myself.”

Levine plans to continue pursuing various artistic mediums, while also staying true to her love for abstract painting. Though she is still researching treatment plans for her condition, she no longer lives with a resentment for everyday life. Rather, she feels emboldened by the skills she has discovered as an artist, and is excited to continue to learn about herself and her talent through art.

Aliciakaye Bryant: Helping others one fear at a time

Aliciakaye Bryant often sports horror-film- themed merchandise, such as pin citing an iconic line from the 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “It.” — Photo by Claire Lordan

For Aliciakaye Bryant, a rising high school senior from Canton, Ohio, helping others comes naturally. The oldest of five siblings, she’s no stranger to leading by example.

At school, many of her activities lean toward the betterment of her peers: Class Treasurer, co-Student Council President, and president of her local youth council name just a few. In her sparse free time, Bryant enjoys writing (she currently has 10 books self-published online) and crocheting. And yet, despite her lengthy list of accomplishments, Bryant’s true passion comes from a much darker and more intriguing source: true crime.

Bryant is no stranger to all things twisted. An avid lover of horror movies, she has often found herself drawn to films specializing in psychological terrors. So when she discovered the world of true crime stories through podcasts and web series, she was hooked. “I was fascinated by the killers,” Bryant admits. “I wanted to know how they thought, what triggered them to do what they did.”

Spurred by her newfound interest in the human psyche, Bryant began researching the world of psychology. However, she quickly rejected criminal psychology, and searched for a field more suited towards her. “I branched out, and that’s when I found clinical psychology,” she says. “Now, I could use my interests to help people.”

Currently, Bryant hopes to become a clinical psychologist in the military. There, she can assist soldiers who are in service and help prepare them for a life at home. Strangely enough, Bryant has no military family; rather, she hopes to use her interests to provide treatment to those who otherwise might not receive it. (Roughly 20% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a 2016 study conducted by the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research.) 

In the coming year, Bryant plans to study psychology at her high school. She hopes that the course will assist her in broadening her understanding of the human mind, and foster her reverence for mental health awareness and treatment.

Reflection: My time at Summer Scholars

Media Matters students hit the streets of Oxford. —          Photo by Patricia Gallagher Newberry

When I got to the Miami Summer Scholars program, all I really knew about my own role in journalism is that I enjoyed writing. I had no idea just how many careers fall under the world of journalism; many of which have absolutely nothing to do with writing. Every facet of journalism presents its own unique version of storytelling; broadcast, radio, and print journalism all bring their own challenges and character to the universality of telling the news. Through Professor Newberry’s course, I have learned how the history of journalism impacts the field today, as well as had the opportunity to speak with multiple professionals with expertise ranging across the career.

Journalism is the recording of history in real time. By giving the people the ability to educate themselves on the world around them, it keeps the public free and self-governing. While print journalism has continued to present the public with news since the invention of the printing press, the adoption of radio in the early 20th century, as well as the globalization of television in the 1940’s, have provided society with a multitude of ways to keep up-to-date on the world around them. However, with the rising of the era of social media in the 21st century, journalism has been forced to adapt in order to meet the changing demands of the world. Despite the ever-changing nature of the field, its roots in educating the population have always and will always remain the same.

In the world of journalism, I still see myself in the world of print journalism. As someone who has always found comfort in writing, I loved to hear professional journalists discuss how they turned a passion for writing into a career. I found myself drawn to the fluidity of the field, especially when we spoke with social justice reporter Mark Curnutte, who had the opportunity to create his own beat in the Cincinnati Enquirer. I cannot imagine another profession where I would have the flexibility journalists have. Furthermore, I was inspired by the ability to achieve success early in the field, as shown through Miami grads and guest speakers Mariel Padilla, Reis Thebault, and Maia Anderson. 

My two weeks at Miami have completely opened my eyes to the world of journalism and what it entails. Journalists have the power to hold those in power accountable, and grant power to the common man.

About the author

Claire Lordan pictured in her 2018-2019 school photo — Contributed photo

Claire Lordan is an 18-year-old rising senior at Chagrin Falls High School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, outside of Cleveland. In the classroom, she enjoys English and government courses, and has been an active member of her school’s speech and debate program for three years. She also runs cross country and track and field for her school.

At home, Lordan can often be found with a book in hand; her favorites being “The Book Thief,” “The Handmaid’s Tale” and any of the “Harry Potter” novels. She is also an active affiliate of the Ohio chapter of the Women’s March, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and participated in its most recent Cleveland demonstration. She plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in journalism.