They say there are two sides to every story, and Tyra Abraham ’18 is no exception. On the one hand, she’s an accomplished student who is pursuing her passion for storytelling by serving as an official photographer for the College. On the other hand, she’s a gifted athlete who has broken numerous records as part of the CMS Athenas Track & Field team. We recently sat down with Abraham to talk about her Scripps journey, how she balances student life with the rigors of CMS competition, and her post-graduation plans.
Scripps College: You’re a dual major in anthropology and media studies, which is an intriguing combination. Did you think that you would pursue those majors when you first entered college?
Tyra Abraham: I’ve always been interested in the idea of visual storytelling. In high school, I aspired to be a photojournalist. I don’t want to do that anymore, but I still love taking photos, telling stories, and learning about other people’s histories. When I came to Scripps, I knew I wanted to focus on at least one of those majors. After falling in love with the intro classes for each subject, I decided to major in both. It’s been a perfect combination for me.
SC: In addition to taking photos of campus life and events for the Scripps website and publications, you’ve had a slate of internships that have honed your storytelling skills. Can you tell us about those experiences?
TA: During the summer after my first year, I worked for the New York City-based nonprofit Studio in a School, where I mentored rising high-school seniors dealing with the college application process. I helped them identify schools that matched with their interests and worked with them on their applications and personal statements.
The summer before my junior year, I worked for the nonprofit StoryCorps, whose mission is to record, preserve, and share stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs. I specifically worked in the Recording and Archiving Department, which was awesome because I was one of few people in the organization who had access to the archive, which holds more than 60,000 interviews. I got to listen to the full-length interviews whenever I had free time. I also got to sit in production team meetings, where staff pitch ideas for new stories and listen to the first cuts of interviews for broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was cool to be able to hear both the full-length version and edited version of the interviews selected for the radio.
This past summer, I worked for DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit that allows individuals to donate directly to public school teachers to fund classroom projects. Working on the brand and communications team, I managed their social media, creating and scheduling posts as well as researching how the organization might improve their social media strategy. I also contributed ideas for their back-to-school communications and end-of-the-year campaign.
These internships really helped me develop a passion for telling people’s stories, but my work at DonorsChoose.org in particular solidified my interest in working in marketing and communications after college.
SC: You are also a record-breaking member of the Athenas Track & Field team. In 2016, you set the CMS record for the 200-meter dash, and you also hold the CMS and SCIAC record in the 100-meter. How has being a star student-athlete at Scripps shaped your college experience?
TA: I’m so glad I decided to run track at Scripps! It’s been great to be a part of the CMS community—I have been able to meet so many cool and interesting people. Talking to other people on my team and from other teams about their experiences at Claremont McKenna and Harvey Mudd Colleges has been fascinating, and it’s been a unique experience to play alongside students from three very different schools who all practice and compete on the same team.
Being a student-athlete has also taught me skills like leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, and resilience. There are times when I absolutely dread going to practice or would rather not have to spend my entire Saturday at a track meet, but I love my team, I love seeing my teammates break personal records, and I’ve shared so many amazing moments with my teammates that have made all the sacrifices worth it. At the same time, my coaches are totally understanding if I have to miss a practice to meet with an advisor or attend a lecture. And, while track is a significant part of my life, I love that it doesn’t take over, and I still have free time to pursue my interests, hang out with friends, and explore all that Los Angeles has to offer.