Suzannah Young, a student at Barry University is the latest to join the
Artburst Arts Journalism Mentoring Project.
Continuing in their quest to foster the next generation of arts journalists, the Artburst Arts Journalism Mentoring Project’s latest mentee is Barry University student Suzannah Young.
Currently in her junior year at Barry University, she is majoring in Communications and Public Relations with a minor in Journalism. Originally from Wichita Kansas, Suzannah’s love for writing began when she started writing for her school newspaper in high school.
Continuing her passion for journalism, Suzannah is now a writer and social media coordinator for the student newspaper, the Barry Buccaneer, where she has been working for the past two years covering art, hard news, and popular culture.
It is that work that inspired Dr. Mariely Valentin-Llopis, one of her communications professors at Barry University, to introduce Suzannah to the mentoring program.
“Dr. Valentin-Llopis emailed me about Artburst’s opportunity in the mentoring program. She reached out to me first because of my involvement with Barry’s student paper and because I’m so outgoing,” said Young.
Artburst contributor and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Barry University Dr. Sean Erwin first mentioned the mentoring program to Dr. Valentin-Llopis.
“Dr. Erwin was also one of my professors and he reached out to me about the program and mentioned it to Dr. Valentin-Llopis,” said Young. “I took an honors philosophy class with Dr. Erwin freshman year and the class actually attended a panel discussion that he was speaking on at Miami City Ballet’s home on Miami Beach.”
Erwin recommended Suzannah to the Artburst program coordinators Jean Blackwell Font and Laura Bruney and, based on her application and writing samples they encouraged her to apply. “I submitted some of my clips from The Buccaneer and was quickly accepted,” explained Young.
The next step was pairing her up with mentor Christine Dolen, award-winning journalist with decades covering South Florida’s theater scene and Artburst Miami’s theater critic.
Dolen said, “Jean and Laura asked if I’d be a mentor in this second cycle of mentorship and assigned Suzannah to me because of her interest in theater.”
Dolen wasted no time in assigning Suzannah an article, working around the challenge that Suzannah is currently at home in Kansas for the summer.
“I would have liked having Suzannah review something, but since she’s out of town and there isn’t a lot of live theater until the fall, we had to pivot to features,” said Dolen. “Her first story was about Giancarlo Rodaz, the young director of Area Stage’s “Annie.” Click here to read the article on the blog.
Christine suggested it thinking “it would be great to have a younger artist interviewed by a young journalist (and I thought Giancarlo should be profiled, given his rising presence in theater here),” she said. “That worked out well, and The Miami Herald picked it up, so Suzannah got the Artburst readership and the Herald readership.”
Next up Dolen will assign Young a feature about Elena Maria Garcia and Elena’s solo show “Fuacata!,” which will open next month at Actors’ Playhouse and mark the return of live mainstage shows to the Miracle Theatre and then “she will write about a new theater company – info on that to come,” said Dolen.
The mentoring relationship has been invaluable to Suzannah who says Christine helps her come up with story ideas and provides incredible feedback about her writing style.
“Christine’s incredible knowledge of the theater scene in Miami and constructive criticism are helping keep my voice in my articles. She’s also helped me with interview questions and her incredible contacts in the community. She’s a huge asset to my writing and overall experience,” said Young.
As her mentor and assignment editor, Dolen holds regular Zoom meetings with Suzannah to discuss ideas. They also communicate back and forth via email “so I can know if she’s getting the interviews she needs, the photos to go with the stories, etc.” said Dolen.
Once Young has finished a story, she sends it to Dolen, who edits it and emails the edited version back to her.
“We meet on Zoom to go over it and talk about changes, approach, interviews, questions and so on,” said Dolen. ‘I hope Suzannah has enjoyed the challenges of arts journalism and that it will inspire her to continue when she’s back on campus at Barry next month.”
This approach is helping Young gain confidence in the entire writing process, which wasn’t the case when she was in high school.
“I was intimidated in high school with the interview process and now I’m much more comfortable with that aspect of writing,” she said. “Having this opportunity to practice interviews and writing is invaluable to perfecting my craft and then pursuing a career in this for my future.”
As an avid runner who loves listening to podcasts and also doing yoga, Young loves the freedom that journalism allows her. As a creative person “I love that journalism allows me to be creative in a more constructive way. It allows me to be artistic and grounded, too,” she said.