Chasing a Dream
UM senior Claire Chandler studies what she loves thanks to a scholarship
Interview & Story by Christian Kiemele, Nelson Weller Intern
Claire Chandler grew up reading the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, her hometown newspaper. At eight years old, she made her own paper, “The Knaab Chronicle,” named for the street she lived on; in high school, she wrote for the student-run publication The Hawk Talk.
A young reporter was born.
Despite this early and obvious passion for journalism, Chandler put it on the back burner when she came to UM, concerned about the state of the field. Instead, she decided to major in economics and pre-physical therapy.
“I got through freshman year, and I wasn’t really feeling it with those majors,” Chandler says. “I figured out the following summer that I wanted to study business and pair it with journalism.”
The niche works well for her. With business, Chandler enjoys the meshing of creativity and problem solving. Journalism fills her need to do something meaningful for the campus community.
“What gets me about journalism is it’s serving a public need,” she says. “It’s important that the public knows what goes on.”
Two years ago, Chandler joined UM’s student-run newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, as a news reporter. Her early experiences involved a solid amount of breaking news coverage, as she wrote stories for the paper three times a week. She moved into a more managerial role as the managing web editor last fall, then accepted the editor-in-chief role this spring. She directed the coverage of Royce Engstrom’s resignation, and has worked to build up the Kaimin’s website and social media presence.
Chandler’s efforts have not gone unnoticed; last May, she was awarded the 2016 Carol Van Valkenburg Scholarship, which supports a Kaimin editor with coverage of full tuition and fees.
“This scholarship means I can devote my time to the Kaimin, to school and to the journalism school specifically,” she says. “It gives me confidence that I’m doing something that’s valuable, and that other people value it, too.”
She has been able to keep in touch with the award’s namesake, a School of Journalism professor emeritus and longtime Kaimin advisor. The two go to lunch together and will communicate about the Kaimin over Facebook messages.
The scholarship has also helped Chandler leave college debt free, allowing her more options when it comes to her future – a future that seems very bright.
She already has a job lined up after graduation – she’ll be working with accounting firm PwC in Portland. Her long term goals, however, are to be on the strategic end of media and news.
“Thinking about reaching our readership, conveying to our readership that we are serving them, and continuing to build our readership in strategic ways is really interesting to me,” she says. “I love thinking about the big picture.”
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