By Leslie Jones
Jo Caldwell Meyer scholarship winner Katy Schaffer is in her third year at the University of Texas, pursuing a double major in public relations and journalism with a photojournalism concentration. In addition to a great academic record, Katy stays busy pursuing her passions outside the classroom, including completing internships at Austin Monthly and SXSW, and serving as a web producer for The Daily Texan.
She also has a case of the travel bug: she spent part of last summer learning about public relations in Ireland and this summer she’s undertaking a five-week apprenticeship with photographer Dennis Darling in the Czech Republic. Katy aims to spend her career as a world-traveling communicator and visual storyteller.
Here, Katy tells us more about her plans:
WCA: Why did you decide to pursue public relations and journalism?
KS: I chose these two majors independently of each other. I chose journalism because it allows me to connect to people by telling and sharing their stories. I chose public relations because it allows a lot of creativity as I develop a story for a brand.
More than anything, I chose these fields because they afford me the opportunity to create the life I’ve always imagined for myself: that of a global storyteller.
WCA: Where do you see yourself in the future?
KS: I see myself all over the world, working for some international public relations agency or an international museum, freelancing as a travel writer and photographer. My ultimate goal is to tell the world’s stories through photojournalism, and I will spend my working years reaching that goal.
WCA: Tell us about a work experience that was especially meaningful.
KS: I spent five weeks in Ireland with 16 other students, developing a public relations campaign for a local Irish company to build awareness of and support for their brand. What was most special about those five weeks was how much I learned about myself as I lived in a completely unfamiliar context. I learned to be independent and courageous in the face of difference, something I never would have learned at home in my safe Austin bubble.
WCA: What do you love most about the communication field?
KS: I’m definitely most passionate about photojournalism. It’s what first attracted me to a career in communication, and it’s remained my ultimate goal throughout all of my communication-related endeavors. I love the creativity the visual medium demands and how it lets me get up close and personal to show stories. That exposure can lead to understanding, compassion and empathy, all of which are essential in moving the world forward.
WCA: What does WCA mean to you personally?
KS: My experience with this scholarship has been one mostly characterized by gratitude. I’m grateful to have received such an honor and will do my best to represent WCA well as I move forward in my communication career.
WCA: What advice do you have for other students considering a path like yours?
KS: I would tell them to go for it if it’s a career they really want to pursue. If you find the area of communication in which you have the most fun, it can be an incredible experience.
I’ve always believed if I’m passionate about something, I’ll find a way to make enough money to get by and live a comfortable life. Life is about fulfillment, not money, and if a career in communication fulfills you—that’s what matters.