SPJ Student Rep. Candidacy

Vote Lauren Whan

Vote Lauren Whan

Hello! I’m glad you found my page and I hope you take the time to read the reasons why I decided to run for the Student Representative position. As a Midwest girl and coming from the “Show Me State”, I hope to show SPJ what the students want and let them be heard on the national level.


“To inspire successive generations of talented individuals to become dedicated journalists.”

As a part of SPJ’s mission statement, I found this section to be the hook, line and sinker for me. Across America, there are various student chapters, pro chapters and SPJ communities that provide a place of belonging. This organization allows journalists of all ages to come together to work towards common goals and further one another’s knowledge.

By hosting conventions, journalism workshops to locally pairing up chapters, we remind and inspire each other to encourage and maintain the rights under the First Amendment, provide the general public timely and accurate information as well as creating a proactive environment for journalists to work. I feel that it is my mission to ensure that all journalists find their niche and then turn that passion into inspiration for other journalists to chase and succeed in their dreams.

At different points in our life, we find ourselves being unsure of a direction or pathway to take. The beauty of journalism is that it is a free outlet for many individuals to voice their opinions, ideas or newsworthy information.  As journalists, we invented thinking outside of the box. Our jobs range from print, broadcast, to online. That may seem small till you think about hyper local newspapers to The New York Times, amateur radio to national radio and television stations, to my personal website all the way to cnn.com.

I believe that SPJ is the place to inform and inspire journalists to find their career and hobby outlets. As an organization, we can help others find what their truly passionate about and then turn that passion into a lifelong commitment to become dedicated journalists.

SPJ Bio:

In the fall of 2013, I became a member of SPJ and pursued my time to help create astudent chapter at Lindenwood University.  I was elected treasurer of the LU Chapter and have been a representative at various campus  and community events. Our chapter has also held a Journalism-Lab, First Amendment Free Food Festivals and open meetings for other students to check out our organization. I have had the pleasure of attending the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute and the Region 7 Conference. I look forward to attending #EIJ14 in Nashville and reuniting with old and new members. I love meeting new people and as an ambitious new member I cannot wait to network and listen to other’s stories and recommendations. I want to become the student voice and have the opportunity to represent SPJ student chapters coast to coast. As a Midwest girl and coming from the “Show Me State”, I hope to show SPJ what the students want and let them be heard on the national level. I hope to earn your vote to become a Student Representative for the 2014-15 year.



Presently: A storm spotter for Illinois and Missouri for the National Weather Service, Writer for The Legacy, Anchor for LUTV News and sideline reporter for Lindenwood Men’s Basketball.

3.8 GPA and Dean’s List

Previously: 2013 Lindy Award Winner, 2012 Elliott Publishing Summer Internship, 2011 Youth to Washington Winner, 2011 FBLA 1st Place for Emerging Business Issues, 2010 Adams County Fair Queen.

Read my full resume here.


Thank you for generously taking the time to read over my candidate page and I hope to earn your vote to become a Student Representative for the national board. I’ll see you soon in Nashville!

Voting will take place electronically via email during the Excellence in Journalism 2014 conference, Sept. 4-6. (Even if you don’t attend the conference your still eligible to vote!)




Sheila Simon ~ Lieutenant Governor of IL. 2011

Sheila Simon ~ Lieutenant Governor of IL. 2011

Power of Networking: 

Networking to me is actually just me talking and connecting with people with no ulterior motive and just a desire to learn and expand my world.  All the best information and leads in my life usually come from the most unexpected connections. All the jobs I have gotten have been done by my own luck and selling myself. You honestly can never tell who and what will help you out in the future.

But on the other hand, being able to name drop someone can definitely help you get your foot in the door. Once you have a few good connections you can expand your circle to meet more successful people like yourself. I have heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”  That is why it’s important to network online or face-to-face.


By joining various groups in your industry, staying in touch with classmates, or be a little bit of a creepier and go through some of your friend’s connections you will grow a larger network. I have seen LinkedIn power users with the (LION) at the end of their profile headline which I researched and that means that those people are open networkers and are willing to connect with anyone. So that’s also another option to build up your network. Having your profile with say 300+ connections is what I would consider a decent start and after that you will probably be able to add more connections along with showing your general audience that you already know a lot of people.

Twitter & Facebook: 

These social sites are where I connect to most people online and keep up with what’s trending. By using hashtags relevant to your industry, you will be able to find other users in your field and then chat or share ideas. I also follow key players in the industry to see what my competition is like and how I have to better myself. And with Facebook I usually get friends posting events / opportunities for me to attend. I also find links posted with extended stories that I can read up on. Both sites are a great place to start looking for people to network with for future help or job opportunities.

Meeting Congressman Aaron Schock ~ 2012

Meeting Congressman Aaron Schock ~ 2012

Family, Friends and Complete Strangers: 

Family and friends are sometimes overlooked when we think of people we should network with. We don’t think of our best friend’s aunt twice removed possibly being the producer of a popular news station or your older sister’s boyfriend’s grandpa is the owner of the company you’ve been dying to work for. Chances are, someone you know has the ability to introduce you to people who could be beneficial to you breaking into the industry.

Through job fairs, career fairs, your university or another public event there are plenty of ways to get your name out there. One thing I need to do and take my own advice is to get new business cards made for myself. Once at these events I noticed it’s better to try and listen to what others say and you just might learn something new! Improving the way you network should be an ongoing process. It’s a tough world out there and the only person that is going to help you succeed is YOU!

Oh, My Racing Heart




Miss Sprint Cup is a title granted to individual women who are chosen to represent all of the action during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.The Sprint Cup Series is the largest of the racing series sanctioned by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. (NASCAR) Miss Sprint Cup; the new title of its precursor, the “Miss Winston Cup“, is also called the “Sprint Cup Girl” or “Trophy Girl”. These women interact with thousands of drivers and fans at all NASCAR Sprint Cup events. They also bring viewers news regarding drivers and various NASCAR activities throughout their year.

Getting There: 

I currently attend Lindenwood University in pursuit of my B.A. in Journalism. While studying here I am gaining excellent writing and speaking skills and getting comfortable in front of the camera. My emphasis is in news writing but I dabble with recording video, photography, social media, sports reporting and much more. Soon I hope to gain an internship or job being a spokesmodel to get more experience under my belt. As far as traveling goes, I jump all over the United States. Traveling to New York with my parents, to San Antonio with my friends and eventually studying aboard with Lindenwood will make a world traveler.

Application Process: 

Step 1 – Fill out the online Miss Sprint Cup application process via Marilyn’s Model and Talent Management. Marilyn Green, the founder of the agency, was the original Miss Winston Cup in 1971 and knows exactly what she’s looking for. Applications are accepted online until September 1st of each year.

Step 2 – Have your talent or modeling agency forward photos and your resume on your behalf. This will increase your chances of being chosen and those agencies should have you prepped for the beginning of the application process.

Step 3 – Know why you want to serve as Miss Sprint Cup and evaluate yourself on past achievements, your personal brand through social media, professional modeling pictures and above all your online demo reel of your talent.

"Talkin, true blue, out in the woods, down home, country girl..." - Jason Aldean

“Talkin, true blue, out in the woods, down home, country girl…” – Jason Aldean


Need for Speed:

As a little girl I remember asking my parents for a motorcycle. Being that I was about five-years-old and didn’t even have my driver’s license yet my parents substituted they best they could. A red and black Fisher-Price life size motorcycle that was battery-powered. I rode that up and down my sidewalk till the sun went down and it was time for supper. Eventually I moved on to my first grey, four-wheeler where I loved shifting gears to see how fast I could go. Next was my snowmobile that instantly became my favorite. Topping speeds over 130 mph while blasting over the wide open spaces of the frozen lake and zipping through the forest trails like it was my job. I will always be a Snow Diva at heart but living in the Midwest makes my time in the snow limited.

Then came my 16th birthday! Ta-da now I could drive my truck everywhere, four wheel drive meant not rain, snow or mud could keep me away from tempering with my boundaries. But all those feelings of being invincible and unstoppable shortly came to an end. After a few speeding tickets of my own plus watching my friends get banged up and scared I started to realize there’s more to my life than thrill-seeking. The biggest impact on my life was losing friends and people around me to tragic ATV accidents or car wrecks.

Leave it to the Professionals: 

There’s a reason why TV stations say “Do not try this at home.” The average person doesn’t own the right gear or safety implications to be trying such dangerous stunts. And the years of practice to gain skills with a motor operated vessel plus the long hours of training that every professional must go through. I’ve learned to stop and think to weigh my risks. “Is it really worth my life if I make one mistake?” That’s why I admire the sport of NASCAR now. I can still enjoy all the racing action at my own pace at home or in the stands. Those race car drivers have outstanding skills to match their passion and that is why NASCAR will always have a place in my heart.


Miss Sprint Cup 2014

Miss Sprint Cup 2014

Just Add Vanilla


Well Vanilla In Social that is! Marisa Lather takes the social media world seriously and enjoys interacting with people through Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and we can’t forget Twitter. She has her Vogue Rhythm  pages to dabble with fashion blogging, talk about popular music and give DIY tips. Currently, Marisa works for the company Microgrid Solar and maintains all social media along with working with the clientele. She is also very passionate about the psychology behind all social media sites, looking at the content creation process to how successful certain posts can be compared to others. In addition, she was an English major and still has help with double checking her work to make sure it’s fit to print!



Basic Tips:

By this point in time we should all know there is now the problem of the loss of digital privacy. Anyone now has the ability to find you online and that is why our generation must be extra careful when presenting our personal brand.

Next, do what your asked to do or get fired! No sass-back, no pouty-face and definitely no doing what you want to do since your always 100% right all the time. CAPESH? Be willing to adapt and expand your skill set to suit your customers. Having an open mind will most likely save you time and money instead of arguing.

Also don’t forget to set up Google alerts to manage your personal brand. This will help notify you when and where your name is being used online. This might also prevent you from missing an important message or a job opportunity.

Another huge part of our personal brands is how other people interpret the content we or our friends put out. Countless photos or videos can be taken out of context and be forever tied to your personal image. Marisa told our class to add a caption if it’s still an appropriate imagine and not hide certain parts of our personality.

"Tonight we do it big, and shine like stars..." - Ke$ha Concert

“Tonight we do it big, and shine like stars…” – Ke$ha Concert

Four Things to NEVER Post Online:

1. Badmouthing Anyone – Your mom, your dad, your brother, your sisters, your friends, your classmates, the neighbors, the waitress… well you get the point! Zip your lip like a padlock and throw away the keys. Your short term comments can make a long term personal problem for someone else. We all can’t be trading shoes to see how one another feels but at least think of the possibility of that comment getting you fired or what a jerk everyone really thinks you are.

2. Lies About Your Qualifications: 

The truth will eventually rise to the surface. You can’t say your qualified to work for NASA if you’ve only launched one bottle rocket. Or write on a resume that you know 10 different languages…with the video, nuff’ said!

3. Get Rid of the Text-Talk 

“Can yooh even right 1 grammatically correct swentence?”

Care a little more about what your writing unless you want to sound like a four-year-old for the rest of your life. My mother and grandmother used to embarrass the heck out of me when I was younger. They would make me repeat the sentence with the correct grammar or work on the pronunciation of certain words. I had a miniature problem speaking when I was younger but hopeful you can’t tell now?!

4. Be Proactive, Not Reactive.

Don’t gripe or be hypocritical about models in a magazine or lash out at mean girls for making fun of your weirdness. Own the fact that you are different and that your style, height, food taste, etc are what make everyone unique and interesting to learn about.

"Thank you for believing in my weirdness."

“Thank you for believing in my weirdness.”




Jessica Leitch

First Day Car Free!

First Day Car Free!


Jessica Leitch is a community manager for Alive Magazine here in the Greater St. Louis area. She described her job as getting paid for “your time to no longer be your own.” She is constantly replying and managing social sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Recently she had the chance to reply to Carrie Underwood because she is constantly keeping up with what the community is saying.

She spends the rest of her free time not so freely working on her popular lifestyle blog, City In A Jar. Jessica’s niches are fashion, traveling, baking pies and of course red lipstick. She also serves on the board for the Social Media Club STL who hosts public events monthly. Recently she challenged herself to give up her car to prove you can get around the city with just a bicycle. (Amazing!)

“St. Louis is really tiny” :

After you’ve networked as much as Jessica Leitch has, you might think the Lou is small too. She introduced us to Ben Vogelsang who has been her videographer and how much she enjoys working with St. Louis Fashion Week. I loved how honest she was about her hatred for math and that pictures and social media are her world. But once again our PBandJterm class was won over by some really addictive sweets, Strange Donuts.

Blog Advice : 

Jessica told our class blogging doesn’t always come easy for her and that she sometimes has to force herself to blog. “It was stressful but I needed to do it.” I can relate to that and believe we all could use a little bit more determination to finish our weekly blogs. Plus her readers held her accountable to keep up with her blog and allowed her to continue to write. And all of that hard work has actually led her to many of her job opportunities to date.


Original content is better than curated content.” This was possibly the best advice given all day. Jessica said that when she first started her blog she used Pinterest photos to complement her blog then found that if she used her own photos she got more of a response from her readers. Her original photos are stunning and allow her content to be current and add to breaking trends.

 Invest Your Time: 

Investing your time and energy into something you probably won’t even get the chance to get paid for until two to three years later would scare most people away. I mean why do it if you’re never going to get noticed? It’s the practice and extra skills you can gain from building up your blogging community. Just like LinkedIn is “a necessary evil.” Having your resume online to refer to at any time or slowly make edits to is a wonderful tool. But what’s even greater is dishing out more content and staying focused by the daily items that inspire you.

Invest Within Your Own Time

Invest Within Your Own Time


Jenn Cloud


“Is that your natural hair color?” BK611UgCQAAlxs6

Normally when a guest speaker comes in to talk to a class they don’t start with an activity. Reese’s flying through the air, students answering oddball questions and rows of laughter coming from the class. Jenn Cloud  successfully caught my attention within the first five minutes of her presentation.

Quick Intro:

A zaneous-spontaneous lady, with a love for all things web, cat or gluten free.  Driven by having high energy for freelance marketing, blogging and lending a helping hand. Jenn may have over three-thousand followers on Twitter but it’s her blog that captures the attention of most. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap is her Word Press blog where she uploads videos and creates post that pertain to good deeds. Bravo!


Jenn brought up many great ideas varying from micro-blogging, making mistakes to having consistency across channels. Her philosophy about social media is that we are always telling stories. Every time we create content we are allowing for other people to learn about our own personal stories.

“What story are you already telling?”  She asked the class this and gave examples of others being known as the 24/7 whiners, the one who can never hold down a job or the person who is doing what they like and are actually getting paid! This helped me take a step back and double check everything that I post. My mother has always told me never say or write anything if I wouldn’t want it posted on the front page of a newspaper.

Next, she gave us advice of how to make a difference within our own personal brand. Being realistic and having honesty are her two favored traits to explain how she’s gained success. Her post also reflect the person she is in all mediums. On Twitter, Google+ or her blog we will find the same stories that she’s telling. For example, some people use Facebook as an outlet to their family to stay in touch etc as to where their Twitter account post all the mean, stressed-out posts of their job or the ridiculously long line at Starbucks. We need to try to convey our brands 100% through and stay consistent across every account we use.


Mistakes Happen:

I feel slightly scared and yet some relief when others admit to being a goofball and totally screwing up. (Yey! There’s hope for me after all) When Jenn told us about her first job not going the way she planned or the misspelled name being printed it made me feel that I could really relate to her. Thank goodness we’re all human and silly things are going to happen to us at the freakin’ worst time possible!

And her quote of getting outside of your comfort zone and do something that intimidates / makes you nervous is a new life lesson that our class needed to hear. By keeping the same, boring routine we get comfortable inside our box and we never want to leave. But this makes us limited, small minded and additionally dumb for not trying to learn what else is out there. What haven’t you seen or experienced yet?

Lastly, Jenn mentioned that micro-blogging is her favorite way of expressing what she’s thinking. I couldn’t agree more because before this class all I ever wanted to do was check Facebook and create a short rant on Twitter!


Brainstorm Content


My Google+ Experience: 

Wow! The internet just keeps getting better and better every day! I’m glad our PBandJterm class took the time for us to set up our Google+ bios and  find each other so we could create our own community. Between the humorous memes, advice for social media, all the way to sharing three things we are each grateful for has made me love Google a little more. I also like how anyone is able to create circles to organize their interests according to the friends they have or people or pages they want to follow. Being able to share photos, videos, or basically any link to those who are close to you is invaluable. And by uploading something to your page, it stays there plus it can be saved to your Google Drive. The last feature I’m still impressed with is Google Hangouts so I can easily video chat friends or do an interview with anyone from around the world.


In a World of Vlogs: 

What is a vlog and why should there be more of them created? According to About.com :

“A vlog is a video blog post. The term can also refer to a blog made up entirely of video blog posts.

Vlog posts are created by creating a video of yourself or an event, uploading it to the Internet and publishing it within a post on your blog.”

This is topic we could of possibly brought up in class after watching that Bat Dad video. To me, I believe I could reach more people easily if I posted short videos to my Word Press or YouTube page. The tricky part for me is learning how to be a better cameraman and brush up on my editing skills. While browsing the internet I found a lot of funny, professional and advice giving vlogs.

A Brand You Should Know:

My presentation was over Leo Babauta and his web blog Zenhabits. He is a motivational, health fitness crazed, family man who wants to find happiness and live simplistically. From his blog post I took away four main points that I need to incorporate into my own life.

1. Less is More – As humans we typically over do everything!

2. Make a short Daily List – Quit over-crowding your schedule with the less important tasks and focus on a single task that needs to get finished.

3. Meditate – Take a few minutes to relax and find a quite place to ease your mind and body.

4. Realize You’re Already There – Stop going through your life checking off boxes! Until the day you die, you will never stop working, thinking or eating. Take gracious pauses and enjoy life in the now.

Live in the moment & appreciate the world's beauty

Live in the moment & appreciate the world’s beauty

Who the bleep is Scott Stratten? :

Lastly, this week not only did we have the honor but the pleasure to talk with one captivating Canadian. Scott Stratten is the President of UnMarketing and is a huge Twitter buff plus his videos are viewed by millions of people. Our PBandJterm class managed to pull off one of the best class periods I’ve ever had and video chat this content creator. I got the opportunity to ask him about how to gain credibility and how he gets inspired. He admitted that he has made mistakes before but only a few won’t hurt your credibility as long as you recognize you were wrong and correct the mistake. As for inspiration, it’s everywhere. We simply can’t consume enough information and our whole lives can be used to create content that will leave a legacy. We learned spending all our time online is a good thing and how we can grow as journalist by waiting to be inspired and take time to write about what matters to you.