I am a journalism student at Harvard University and this is my portfolio in progress.

Personal Statement:

When I was twenty years old, I dropped out of Hampshire College after a sloppy, wasted year. Like many who self-destruct before receiving a college degree, I went into retail – the prickly haven of young people in transition who lack marketable skills. Selling jewelry, then shoes, then clothes, for six years I worked weekends and odd hours and smiled when I didn’t want to and learned how to fold sweaters like a champ. Then I was promoted. And promoted again. Suddenly I had a career instead of just a job. Working 14-hour days in pastel pant-suits and heels, I began to realize that if I didn’t get out of retail soon, I would never get out at all.

So I quit. I moved out of my lovely Back Bay apartment and into a basement hole in Brookline. I temped. I scrimped. I went back to school at Harvard Extension. On June 5th, 2008, I graduated with my ALB from Extension with a concentration in natural sciences. Originally I wanted to be a scientist, but with each passing semester found that my talent was less in the practice of science, and more in writing about it. I learned that writing was what I loved and was what I was best at. I decided to check out the creative writing program at Harvard until I recalled that I have no talent for fiction. It was when I looked at the course offerings for the journalism degree that I began to feel as though I had found the right place to land. Travel writing! Food writing! Opinion writing! Yes, yes, and yes.

The fast-paced, headline-grabbing culture of newspaper journalism is not exactly my speed. I want to be an essayist, not a newsperson, but without the skills of a newsperson I probably won’t get where I want to go. There is a whole mash-up of skills and techniques that need to become second nature in order for me to lay the foundation of what I hope will be a career in narrative non-fiction (which requires neither pant-suits nor high heels). Those skills – sources, AP style, working under a tight deadline, interviewing, re-writing, etc. – are what I hope to gain from this program, as well as the mindset of approaching stories from a journalistic perspective.


  1. aisha said,

    interesting !
    There is somebody in journalism class who doesn’t want to be a journalist. I have never seen in my life a person who is happily willing to leave journalism after developing a taste for it. Journalism is ediction and Its the coolest profession on earth. believe me

  2. Andrew said,

    Hi Elke! This is Andrew from 6th grade english with Mr Romano. Drop me a line.

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