Faces of Mason: Society of Professional Journalists

Interview by Basma Humadi, Assistant Lifestyle Editor

As a part of Women’s History Month, Fourth Estate wanted to celebrate the wonderful leading ladies of Student Media. As of now, all Student Media organizations are run by women. We thought it was pretty historic – especially since representation of women in leadership positions is sparse, according to Pew Research Center.  For this feature, we went around and got the inside scoop about their role and how they got to where they are now. Here’s our feature from Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ):

Photo by Nicolas Macotto

Photo by Nicolas Macotto

Lauryn Cantrell, President, Society of Professional Journalists:

What woman inspires you and why?

I am thankful to have so many exceptional women who serve as my inspirations: my mother, Kathryn Graham (former publisher of The Washington Post), Julia Child, and Audrey Hepburn, just to name a few, but I would like to take the time to talk about my cousin Harriet, in Finland. I have never met her in person, only talked on the phone with her twice, but she is one of my role models and she doesn’t even know it. She is a former model and designer and she has this incredible talent to take very ordinary items and use them to create incredible designs and decor.  She has two very intelligent children and a husband who she has traveled the world with.  I can not wait to go to Finland and finally meet the woman who my mom says I remind her so much of.  

What’s something unexpected you think you found out about yourself by being in a leadership position?

As president of Mason’s Society of Professional Journalists and through my involvement in Student Media, something very unexpected I found out about my leadership skills is that people trust them. More specifically, they trust my intuition. I am not one who is easily-self assured.  I rely on others’ feedback because I want to know I’m being the leader they need and give them what they expect as a member of the organization.  It is about the members and what they hope to gain regarding networking, professional development skills, and ensuring the free and fair practice of journalism. I take it as a huge compliment when people say they are impressed with the work we do and how much we have grown as an organization. Comments like that and seeing the smiles on member’s faces makes it all worth it.