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SJMC alumn encourages students to be their own advocates

Photo Courtesy of Libby Lang

Just as the SJMC professors encouraged Ellie Detweiler, she encourages other students to be the best advocates for themselves. 

Detweiler is from Marion, Iowa, and she graduated from Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

When Detweiler was ready to apply for colleges, she was hoping for a small Midwestern college with a high-ranked journalism and communications program. With the outstanding journalism school, small class sizes and close proximity to her hometown, Drake fit the bill. Detweiler toured the campus twice before making her final decision. 

“I met with former professor David Wright and he talked me through the different paths the school offered and what classes I would be taking freshman year,” Detweiler said. “That second visit and one-to-one conversation secured my thoughts that Drake would be the best path for me.”

As a first-year at Drake, Detweiler knew she was going down the journalism path and planned to pursue a public relations major. She eventually added a second major, sociology, and a minor in marketing.

While in her time at Drake, Detweiler worked as a designer for Drake Mag, became involved with Drake PRSSA and served as Executive Member of the Disability Action and Awareness Committee.

Detweiler had three internships while at Drake. She was a Marketing Intern for the Des Moines Community Playhouse, a Communications Intern at Des Moines Performing Arts and a General Press Intern at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 

“I’m forever thankful for Drake SJMC’s push for students to get out in the field so early,” Detweiler said. “It seems daunting at first to put yourself out there with no experience but the professors are endlessly encouraging and helped me with mock interview practices and countless resume and cover letter revisions.”

Drake SJMC professors taught Detweiler how to advocate for herself in ways she never thought she could. 

“With every internship as I moved up the ladder, including my current one, I acknowledged I always knew I could make it to that point,” Detweiler said. “Each job I was hired to was filled with excitement and nervousness but I never wanted myself to think ‘they made a mistake’ and I wasn’t worthy of doing something that seemed so far out of reach.”

Detweiler offers a strong piece of advice for current and future Drake students to believe in themselves. 

“Just as the SJMC professors encouraged me, I encourage other students to be the best advocates for themselves,” Detweiler said. “You have to believe you belong in the space just as much as anyone else.”

Detweiler graduated a semester early, in December of 2019 and accepted an internship in New York City at her dream company, DKC/O&M. 

Sadly, two and a half months later COVID-19 hit and Detweiler had to move home to Marion to resume her internship virtually. In need of extra cash, Detweiler began working as a nanny and tutor in August and continues to work both jobs full-time now.

“I hit my year anniversary at O&M last week and it was a surreal feeling,” Detweiler said.  “I first heard about O&M my sophomore year of high school and they had been secured as my ‘dream job’ for six years. I applied for their internship program sophomore year at Drake and hung my ‘rejection’ letter on my bulletin board all throughout college.”

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