Our Secret Weapon

by Mary Shipp Bartlett

Public Relations interns

The adage is that being around young people keeps you young. More often, it just keeps you humble.

In the Office of Public Relations and Communication, we have eight interns, all federal work-study students. Why so many?

The idea is that in our office they learn various journalistic skills, such as writing a media release, fact checking, copy editing, and never burying the lede (traditionally spelled “lede,” not “lead”). At the end of a semester, they also know how to give directions to any place at Scripps, transfer a call to the appropriate office, and soothe a disgruntled caller who can’t find information about a Scripps event on the website. All essential things to know in life.

We learn much more from our students than they learn from us — and that’s why we keep them around as much as possible. Plus, they’re so much fun. They range from first years to seniors, each working between two and eight hours a week so that we rarely have more than one or two in the office at the same time.

They talk about their classes — from the idea they’re trying to express in a paper to the frustrations of understanding Core I readings to the fabulous conversation they just had with their favorite professor. They also love to discuss politics, the environment, social issues and inequities, and what should be done about them. What’s humbling is that they know so much already and are bursting with energy and enthusiasm to put this knowledge into action — which they often do while still being a student.

This magazine wouldn’t be the same without them. They call us out when an article or a quote doesn’t quite match reality, when a photo is contrived, or when more information is needed. We listen, and darn it, they’re usually right!

Of course, PR office interns are a microcosm of Scripps students in general. This year, the entering class is 253 strong — more than the expected 225 — primarily because the word is out that Scripps is a great place. And the quality of the student body — in any way you measure excellence and talent — is only increasing. As one measurement, there are 24 National Merit Scholars in the Class of 2012, which once again puts Scripps way ahead of any other women’s college in the nation. Also this year, we had one Rhodes finalist, Maile Yeats ’09, who made it all the way to the Northwest regional interviews — a prestigious accomplishment, indeed.

As you read this issue, think of what lies ahead for these students. They’ll be the Sallie Tiernans, the Gabrielle Jungels-Winklers, the Allison Thompkins, the Nancy Russells, the Karen Tses, the Alison Saars, the Bonnie Beckers, the Kelsey Phippses, and the Jessica Heatons of the future (all featured in this issue of the magazine).

Thank you, Scripps students. I know that whatever you do after Scripps, this magazine will never run out of material on our amazing alumnae.