Since Alexandra Ward’s 10-minute commute from her Hamilton, N.J, home was just a short distance to Rider, her mother encouraged her to get involved on campus her freshman year, so she would feel more connected to the University.
“I knew from the beginning I wanted to get involved with The Rider News,” said Ward of the award-winning weekly student newspaper. “I always saw myself going into journalism, but I didn’t know it would be print. I didn’t know where my place was going to be.”
Ward, a senior Journalism major, followed her mom’s advice and began attending meetings at the newspaper’s office in the basement of Ridge House. Soon, she was assigned her first story and she was hooked. Later, she was asked to serve as the Features and Entertainment editor during her sophomore year, for which she wrote and edited stories and designed pages. As a junior year, Ward served as managing editor before being named the newspaper’s executive editor as a senior, overseeing a staff of 12 editors.
While working at The Rider News, Ward not only developed skills in reporting and management, but she also learned the value of trusting and depending on your coworkers to get a product to press.
“It’s a very open environment. Anywhere that you’re getting a product to press, you have to learn about working with other people,” she explained.
Throughout college, she also served as a freelancer for The Times of Trenton and covered Lawrence Township municipal board meetings, local government and parades. “If it were not for Dr. (Tom) Simonet, I would not have had that opportunity. He was my mentor,” said Ward about the professor of Journalism and former Rider News adviser.
Ward also interned for Community News Service, which publishes a monthly newsletter for seven towns in Mercer County during the summer between her junior and senior years. After reading the monthly Hamilton newspaper her whole life, she applied for a summer internship. The company offered her a full-time position as the editor of the Lawrence Gazette from July through September.
“I definitely learned how I apply what I learn at Rider to a real-world experience. I was responsible for a monthly 36-page paper,” Ward said. “That kind of steered me toward applying to graduate school and studying magazine writing and design.”
Ward was recently awarded the Frederick L. Ferris Journalism Trophy, which is presented to an outstanding student journalist over his or her four-year college career, and the Harry Rine DeYoung Award, which is presented to a graduating senior from the Liberal Arts or Science Programs who has achieved at or near the highest cumulative grade point average over the course of his or her undergraduate studies.
In the fall, Ward will begin graduate studies at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. There, she will study in the year-and-a-half Master of Science in Communication program with a concentration in Magazine Writing. In the future, Ward would like to work for a publication like Time or Newsweek.
“Ultimately, I would like to work for a magazine as an editor,” said Ward, who plans to rely on the experience she gained as editor for The Rider News and the Lawrence Gazette. “I like being in charge. I like having my hands in every aspect of the product and the feeling that my team and I were able to pull it off.”