Long before I started college, I knew I wanted to be a magazine writer. Despite knowing exactly what career I wanted to pursue, I was at a loss for what to study. Traditional journalism programs were too broad and focused too heavily on newspaper writing and English majors do not always teach the non-fiction writing skills I was looking to acquire. Fortunately, my first semester at college I took a composition course and explained my conundrum to my professor. He recommended I look into the Literary Journalism program at U.C.I. and it was the best advice I ever received.
The Literary Journalism program is unlike any other undergraduate degree in the country. The major teaches the art of writing nonfiction prose that surpasses the limits of daily news writing. We were taught how to ethically expand our reporting and writing to create immersive stories; always with a generous word count. We took reporting classes where we wrote newspaper style articles, but our most intensive classes focused on longform writing. I studied a variety of subjects and styles including magazine, features, fashion, travel, profiles, personal essays, reconstruction and narrative. I am confident in saying that after completing the program my writing, research and critical thinking skills have improved greatly.
The works we were exposed to shaped the way I think about nonfiction and writing in general. The authors took real events, people and facts and crafted them into stories that could be read as effortlessly as novels. I was fortunate enough to learn from some of the greatest reporters and writers in this industry. Barry Siegel, Amy Wilentz, Miles Corwin and Amy Depaul were always kind, wise and supportive. I learned different yet equally invaluable skills from each of them. I was pushed out of my comfort zone more times than I would like to admit and I was challenged every single day. When I first started researching the program, I found very little information online. I hope that by sharing my experience, anyone who is interested in the program will hear first hand what an amazing opportunity the Literary Journalism program at U.C.I. is. I wholeheartedly recommend the Literary Journalism program to anyone who wants to pursue a career in nonfiction writing. For more information about the program visit the department’s website here.