Grad Student Earns Fellowship in Seattle

Amelia Havanec graduated from the University of Rochester with a bachelor’s degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. So how did she end up at Michigan State studying journalism?

“I wanted to know everything there is to know about journalism,” she said, adding that she’s always wanted to be a science writer and was first attracted to MSU because of its reputable environmental journalism program.

This past summer, Havanec worked as a science and technology editorial fellow for Crosscut Public Media, an online magazine based in Seattle. She credits her networking with helping her land the position.

“I networked a ton,” Havanec said. “Any job I’ve had, I never got because I filled out a form. Every job I got was through some kind of networking.”

As a fellow, Havanec specialized in technology and science writing.

“I never wrote about technology before, so this was another place for me to expand my skill set,” she said.

She also noted the benefits of working for smaller companies like Crosscut.

“You can really write about what you want,” she said. “You have more fluidity, more freedom.”

Havanec is a recipient of the Marge Sorge Internship Award.

“I wasn’t getting paid and I was moving cross-country. It helped to alleviate a lot of the financial setbacks I might incur in even pursuing this internship,” she said.

Before she got to Crosscut, Havanec worked as an assistant in a number of laboratories. She also wrote for Scientific American and Imaginova Corp., through which her work was picked up by major news agencies like U.S. News and World Report, FOX and MSNBC.

Havanec credits the College of Communication Arts and Sciences with helping to give her confidence in her career.

“The more experience I get, the more confident I am in knowing what questions I can ask,” she said. “When I say I’d like to be a science writer, it’s not that I know everything. I just have confidence in knowing how to ask a question and get to the point of what they’re trying to say.”

Havanec also said her fellow ComArtSci students have helped to inspire her.

“It’s really cool interacting with other students and seeing what they are producing and writing,” she said. “I know that there’s a lot more I need to learn, and it’s cool being here to see other students learning the same things.”

But Havanec also has a bit of advice to offer other students: do your research, especially before heading into an interview for a science story.

“Spend an entire day researching that person or organization, and whatever you’re writing about,” she said. “Really take detailed notes, because the more you know the better questions you have to ask.

By Kelsey Block