Chapin Chat with Chapin Graduate Tatiana Swain
Hi Tatiana: It's good to speak to you again! Can you give a little information about what you've been up to and accomplished since you've left Chapin?
So great to speak with you as well! Although, it feels like I was at Chapin just yesterday attending the family BBQs and participating in the Cake Walk.
Since Chapin, I graduated and went to high school at The Hun School of Princeton and got involved in activities like The Black Student Union, of which I was president, in addition to the athletics and vigorous coursework that Hun provides its students. I graduated from Hun in 2016 and decided to attend Howard University's Cathy Hughes School of Communications in Washington, D.C.
While at Howard University, I pursued a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Afro-American studies. I wanted to delve into the journalism field, so I joined several clubs. I was an ambassador for the NBCUniversal Adopt-A-Team Professional Development Program, Howard's National Communication Association—Lambda Pi Eta. And in 2018, I won an award for the White House Correspondent's Association Scholarship (WHCA) for work I had produced and reported on while in school.
Throughout my collegiate years, I also had several internships, including an NBCUniversal Corporate Diversity & Inclusion Fellow in Universal City, CA, and in 2019 I was an ABC Good Morning America Production Intern in Manhattan.
After graduating, I became a University of Pennsylvania CAMRA Mellon Fellow in a program that focuses on multimodal research. I am now in my second year of that program. While working in research, I Hun invited for three months as a Video Production teacher. From that experience, I started working as a Freelance Guest Greeter at Fox News National Channel, working to bring political, inclusive, and diverse guests to the shows.
Presently, I am working at CBS19 WCAV-TV News in Charlottesville, VA as a Producer and Writer showcasing and writing scripts for local, national, and international news stories. Each day, I also go on air and do national and local health stories in a series called "Health Watch."
My ultimate goal is to run and teach a production department by creating a positive and informative presence within the media-driven world.
When did you realize you wanted to work in news/media?
In 2012 I left Chapin and headed to The Hun School of Princeton. Hun was a great school that exposed me to a lot of my interests, including journalism. Hun asked me to do promotion work for the school's admission department. From then on, I realized I had an affinity for being in front of the camera and talking to people from diverse backgrounds.
Around my junior year, I realized that I might want to continue my love for communications in college. That was later confirmed when my college counselor told me I should consider communications as a major.
Curious about what the communications field held, I decided on journalism—coupled with my desire to go to a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), I decided on Howard University's Cathy Hughes School of Communications. I choose D.C. because it is a city that has a plethora of opportunities in the journalism realm due to the political atmosphere.
From then on, with each journalistic experience, I fell in love with this field of study again and again.
How did Chapin prepare you for your career and help give you the ability to choose a career that would be best for you?
The preparation from Chapin that stands out most to me is the community aspect that the school fosters. A big part of the professional world includes the ability to communicate and create relationships. Chapin does this purposefully with its combination of individual and collective collaboration showcased through its academics, extra-curricular activities, and built-in staff and student interactions.
For example, I remember having an advisory group at Chapin. It included students from all grades and teachers who made up the advisory leaders. Each time we gathered together, we would talk about our day, how school and life were going, and help each other out whenever we could. Advisory gave us a strong support system that gave us the confidence to succeed individually and collectively.
In short, it's the support system and holistic way of learning that continuously gives me the social skills and confidence to succeed today.
Do you have any favorite memories of Chapin?
There is not an exclusive memory that comes to mind. I remember it as a collection of little moments.
I remember Mr. Johnson greeting us and shaking our hands before heading into school.
I remember being Saturn in the fourth grade during our astronomy course.
I remember running a mile and getting a high five from Mr. Fuller after beating all the boys' running times.
I remember Mrs. Moore handing out lollipops to the 8th-grade "seniors" after school.
And I remember hanging out with my friends and playing tag around the statue during recess.
It's the relationships from Chapin that, for me, hold the most value and nostalgia. And I know it is the same experience for all students who will and have passed through Chapin's doors.
What advice would you give a current Chapin student as they go through Chapin and then onto their post-Chapin academic life?
The best advice I can give Chapin students is to take a moment to think about their future. They don't necessarily need to have it planned out all the way but think about where they may want to be in the next two-to-five years.
In journalism, we have this saying called "following the lead." Following the lead means you go wherever the story takes you, even it is the original assignment. That's sort of what life is, a multitude of paths you could take towards your future. Don't be afraid to trust your instincts and go where life is leading you. Things have a way of working out. Now that doesn't mean you get to float around aimlessly. You have to have intention as you put in the work, go the extra mile, and make the necessary connections to reach success. Just remember that you get to make your own story….so start putting your pen to paper and write it.
Thank you so much, Tatiana! Good luck with everything!