As the oldest college newspaper in Southern California, The Student Life (TSL) provides The Claremont Colleges with breaking news stories and updates on a weekly basis. But this year, the publication created its own headlines by naming Julia Thomas ’17 its chief editor – the first Scripps student selected for the job in the paper’s 126-year history.
Now in her third semester at the student-run newspaper, Thomas says she is surprised at how quickly she rose through the ranks to earn the spot as top editor her sophomore year.
“If you had told me a year ago that I was going to be editor-in-chief, I would not have believed you,” she says.
Writing and editing stories is nothing new for Thomas. As a young girl, she developed a penchant for storytelling after reading the children’s novel Harriet the Spy. In high school, she wanted to find new ways to apply her love for creative writing to the real world, so she joined the staff of her high school newspaper and held editor positions in her final two years.
“The process of finding important stories and thinking about how to tell them in meaningful ways remains what I love most about journalism,” Thomas says. “I like the fact that it is fast-paced. I’ve also grown to love the late nights spent in the TSL office with kooky people.
“TSL has been one of the most defining experiences and things I love most about being at the 5Cs,” adds Thomas, whose tenure as editor-in-chief ends this semester.
As the paper’s content varies from week to week, much of her time is spent working collaboratively to unite the many different elements of the paper into a final product.
“A lot of my job is being aware of each of the moving parts of the newspaper, making sure that everything is running smoothly, thinking about TSL holistically, and working with staff members to respond to changes or problems as they arise,” she says. “It’s been both exciting and challenging to be in a position where you’re thinking about all of the departments that go into a final product, but I’ve learned so much over the course of the semester and have really enjoyed the experience.”
While considering a major at Scripps, she weighed her options carefully and kept an open mind. Thomas ultimately chose history and believes she has grown to become a more versatile and well-rounded writer as a result.
Juggling both the paper and academics presents its share of challenges, but Thomas’ hard work and dedication have come through despite the big changes she rolled out this semester at TSL.
“The paper is more inclusive than ever with a lot of participation from the other Claremont Colleges,” she says. TSL is based at Pomona College, though it serves all of The Claremont Colleges. “There has also been a lot more in-person interaction and people in the office during the week, and building more community in the office was one of my big goals. We’re also building a new website that we hope to launch by the start of next semester.”
With developments in the works for TSL, Thomas also thinks ahead with her own career plans. She harbored aspirations to work as a reporter for a news organization or magazine, but now she admits that she enjoys writing about the environment and other academic topics, in addition to investigative journalism pieces.
This summer, she will take her first foray into magazine writing after landing an internship at Marie Claire in Manhattan. Thomas recently received a Scripps Internship Grant that will help her financially at her summer internship.
“Journalism is in a time of transition and change, which makes it both equally exciting and difficult to settle upon as a career choice,” Thomas says. “It’s been a big part of my life for the past few years and I’ve always hoped it’ll be a part of my future, but I’m open to thinking about other ways to incorporate writing into whatever I end up doing. I would love to experiment with different types of journalistic writing and mediums, and see where it takes me.”