The following Q&A was shared with the Ohio Arts Council's e-newsletter audience as part of the agency's new "Meet the Staff" series.
Originally published on oac.ohio.gov on July 26, 2017. Interview by Kayla Draper
Get to know one of our newest team members, Amanda Etchison. She is the woman behind the stories that bring the message of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) to the public.
A content creator and betta fish owner who cannot live without her planner, Amanda is using her journalistic writing experiences to detail the stories of artists and arts organizations throughout Ohio.
Q: What is your role at the OAC and how did your journey begin?
My official title is Communications Strategist at the Ohio Arts Council. I just graduated this past May from The Ohio State University (OSU) with two majors, journalism and Chinese. While I was working at The Lantern (OSU’s student newspaper), my first role that I had there was a feature writer for the Arts & Entertainment section. I got to speak to artists and musicians and other creative individuals both at Ohio State and in Columbus, and I loved it. I loved sharing their stories with people and trying to get the word out there about their work and how they create such amazing things. So, when it came time to look for jobs, I saw that this position blended my love of storytelling with my love of art and the passion I feel for sharing the work and accomplishments of others.
"Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think."
The words that adorned my graduation mortarboard did not come from a celebrity, football legend or prominent historical figure.
Indeed, amid a sea of scarlet and gray Block O's and intricate buckeye-leaf designs, my graduation hat featured a message from an animated boy speaking to his "silly old bear."
Last Friday, I was honored to receive two awards from the Ohio State University School of Communication — the Robert F. Wolfe Journalism Honor Medal and the Kappa Tau Alpha Top Scholar Award. As a graduating senior, this experience was one of the last I will have as an undergraduate in the journalism program at Ohio State. I could not think of a better way to end an inspiring four years surrounded by outstanding faculty, coworkers and peers.
My involvement with The Lantern, Ohio State's student newspaper, started with a single article about the creation of a massive, hand-painted soccer banner, published in the fall of 2013. Seeing my byline on The Lantern's website was a dream come true and a feat I did not think I could pull off within my freshman year, let alone my first month on campus. The experience of seeing my story — the quotes I painstakingly transcribed, the words I specifically chose to describe the triumphant moment when the tifo was hoisted above the crowd — elicited a smile as I emailed the link to my family and friends.
Seven semesters and almost 100 stories later, I still get excited at the thought of picking up a copy of any publication that contains one of my articles. Since my first semester at Ohio State, I have had many experiences as a student journalist, all of which have taught me skills I might not have learned by just sitting in the classroom taking notes. From covering breaking news events well into the early hours of the morning to watching as thousands of my cap-and-gown-clad peers walk through the 'Shoe, I am proud to identify myself as a journalist, a title that inspires me to document the stories that are most important to those who read the words I write.
Writing and working for publications such as The Lantern, The Arizona Republic, CityScene Magazine and BroadwayWorld.com Columbus has shaped my undergraduate experience in ways that I could not have predicted, and for that I am forever grateful.
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Throughout the academic year 2014-15, my roommate and I participated in Ohio State's Second-Year Transformational Experience Program, through which we were both awarded a STEP Fellowship. With the help of our STEP faculty adviser, the Office of International Affairs, and the STEP Administration, we successfully developed a project idea, drafted a proposal, researched travel details, and budgeted for a trip abroad.
As part of this project, we designed and managed a travel and culinary blog, which we updated throughout our 10-day trip to the island nation of Singapore.
Our final video project for Multimedia Journalism focused on the topic of educating children with disabilities. In order to showcase this issue, we interviewed teachers in Celina, Ohio, about their experiences incorporating these children into public school classroom environments.
Selected photos from the Big Ten Men's Soccer Tournament Final game between Ohio State and Maryland on Nov. 15 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
For our first video project in multimedia journalism, we were asked to create a personality profile of an individual or group. The video was to showcase our technical and storytelling skills, as well as our proficiency in editing in Final Cut Pro.
We chose to highlight the Buckeye Fusion Southeast Asian dance team, which is made up of Ohio State students of various cultural backgrounds. They were preparing to send in videos for competitions when we produced this project, and graciously allowed us to film as they practiced.
Selected photos taken at the Ohio State vs. Maryland men's soccer match on Oct. 31, 2015.