The Major Detour Worth Taking
Megan Raposa ’15 was not always a journalism major.
Her journey at Augustana started as a government and international affairs major planning to make a difference for her country. But that dream changed very quickly during her freshman year and Raposa took on the challenge to find her new career path in stride.
Now a journalism and business communication double major with a government minor, Raposa has gained experience through her work as the editor-in-chief for the college newspaper The Augustana Mirror, internships for Lifetouch and KSFY News and freelance work for the Sioux Falls Business Journal (her first cover story for them came out this week).
Her most recent accomplishment has put Raposa on the national stage: She has been selected to participate in USA Today’s Collegiate Correspondent Program.
From Small Beginnings
Originally from Rapid City, South Dakota, Raposa attended St. Thomas More High School where she was involved in many activities.
“I’ve always loved writing. In high school, we didn’t have a school paper, so I tried to start one with a group of friends,” Raposa said. “It sort of fizzled out. After that I started getting involved in local government.”
She served as a page in the state legislature.
“In all of that I thought, ‘I really want to make a difference,’ she said. “You know, there are a lot of big decisions that happen at this level and I was very passionate about politics.”
With her political aspirations still going strong, Raposa started to look for colleges that would help her achieve her dreams.
“I knew I wanted to stay in a smaller school because I went to a very small high school and I liked that one-on-one interaction with professors. Augustana just felt right.”
While working through her first semester at Augustana, Raposa noticed her feelings about being a politician change.
“I started to become a little disillusioned with the political scene,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a politician and that’s how I was going to make a difference. And then you see the congressional gridlock and you see how tumultuous things are in Washington and I felt like that wasn’t the right path for me.”
Like many students who come to Augustana and realize they are in the wrong major, Raposa turned to her professors for guidance.
At that time, she was taking a writing class with Dr. Jeffrey Miller who encouraged her to register for the Journalism 115 class. She continued to take journalism classes and write for The Mirror.
While taking “History of the American Press,” something clicked for Raposa.
“That was around the time I figured out that this was where people were really making a difference,” she said. “We learned about Watergate and a lot of really impressive journalistic endeavors throughout the years and I wanted to be a part of that when I saw the waves that the media could make.”
This also gave Raposa a chance to still stay involved in politics while using her love of writing.
Landing USA Today
As a senior, Raposa is constantly looking for opportunities to help start her career after graduation.
The USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Program was looking for student reporters for the spring semester and sent out a call to ASA president Brittany Dardis, who forwarded the email to The Mirror.
The application was a multistep process starting with round one – sending in writing examples and a resume.
A couple weeks later Raposa learned she had made it to round two, where she needed to complete an original story geared toward a national college audience in 72 hours. She wrote about bystander intervention training. Bystander intervention is used to prevent or de-escalate potentially violent incidents by empowering bystanders with the confidence and tools to intervene in said incident.
“It was kind of a fun undertaking,” Raposa said.
This would be a similar timeline to how long she has to write stories for the program each week.
While on vacation with her family over Thanksgiving break, Raposa found out she had made it to round three - an interview with the USA Today College editorial team.
Five days later, Raposa was in.
Her professor, Dr. Miller, celebrated Raposa’s accomplishment saying: “This is a tremendous honor and one that is truly well-deserved.”
Working on a National Stage
Her tenure with USA Today starts the first week of January and ends the first week of May. Raposa will work from Sioux Falls to pitch stories every week to the USA Today College editorial team and will either write her pitched story or be assigned a story.
She will work with an editor to complete these stories for the USA Today College website and occasionally some stories will make it to the for-print copy desk and for the USA Today News website.
“I’ve been told I might have an opportunity to get feedback from some pretty well established editors [at USA Today News] which I am looking forward to,” Raposa said.
Although she didn’t start there, Raposa says a lot of her success has come from taking that detour to join the Augustana journalism department.
“I don’t know if I can even begin to express how formative the Augie journalism department has been in my pursuits as a journalist,” she said. “I feel like I live in the English and journalism hallways and Dr. Miller and Dr. Blank-Libra have been immensely supportive.”
Her work at The Mirror has also prepared her to step into this new job as she said she focused on writing stories about Augustana that address issues affecting colleges nationwide.
“There are some big stories out there and I’m excited to chase them,” she said.
With the journalism market changing so rapidly, she hopes to find opportunities to write professionally wherever she can.
“I know I like writing in long-form for a political or business beat, so that would be in a print newspaper or a magazine,” she said, “but anything that will pay me to write words on a page is essentially my dream job.”