If there is one thing that all Towson students can talk about together, it’s The Towerlight. We may not always have an amazing sports team or some crazy tradition to chat about, but we do have the stories that The Towerlight informs us of twice a week, every week. It’s a publication we all have access to and know well. The student who was at the helm of the publication during the 2011-2012 school year, Lauren Slavin, had a big job; one that comes with many challenges and as a result she was subject to a lot of criticism.
But as the spunky and fun editor-in-chief, Lauren never let that affect her work. Every week, rain or shine, snow or no snow, The Towerlight was published. I talked to Lauren about her time at Towson and her work at The Towerlight, the good and the bad.
“I always wanted to be a writer,” Lauren said when I asked her if she always wanted to be a journalist. But when it came to journalism, Lauren described a tragedy in her personal life which inspired her to take the path of a journalist.
When her cousin was 16 he was killed in a car accident with his best friend. Lauren said she turned to the Internet to find out the details of the accident because her aunt was too devastated to describe what happened. “The lead of the story was like, “A pair of glasses wrapped around a fence that the car crashed into it...,” and I was like whoever was allowed to write this should burn in hell, that’s my cousin, you don’t do that. If I was a writer I would [have] done it so differently.”
At The Towerlight, Lauren wrote hundreds of stories on everything from the latest play being staged in The Center for the Arts to the story of two Towson students who both died within a 24 hour period in March; a story that hit close to home.
“We were able to speak with the siblings of the student Tim Coyer and his brothers gave me all this information and insight about what he was like, so it was nice to do a feature on him,” she said. “But at the same time you’re balancing just how difficult it is to write. This is someone's brother and friend and son who has just died at such a young age so tragically.”
Lauren says that her empathy helped her write these stories and knows it’s a skill that she will use in her career. “A proud moment for me would be growing as a journalist and learning skills that I am going to be able to take with me when I have to do bigger reporting,” she said.
But being in charge of The Towerlight has come with challenges. “I always thought I would be doing all this writing and editing, but its not true. It’s more like I’m the manager-in-chief,” she said. “It was so much more dealing with day-to-day; people being so mad at you because you misquoted them even though you have an exact recording of what they said; dealing with trying to recruit new writers; trying to work with the staff because, like any dysfunctional family, we have so many fights and so many tensions. It was a lot more balancing than I anticipated and it really sucks because I feel like I had to leave when I was getting really good at it.”
So what would Lauren say to her freshmen self if she could go back in time and do it all over again? “I would tell myself not to worry so much about school, honestly. Apart from being a huge Towerlight nerd, I’m a huge school nerd. B’s make me cry. I want to get straight A’s. I want to be a good student. I want to do well on my papers, but there’s so much that you learn outside the classroom,” she said. “You have to let go a little bit and not worry so much that having an A or a B is going to affect the rest of your life. Focus outside the classroom and don’t limit yourself. College is about learning, but that learning doesn’t have to take place inside the classroom.”
After graduation, Lauren will embark on her biggest adventure yet when she moves to Indiana with her boyfriend who will be attending graduate school at Indiana University. Lauren says that she hopes to find work soon in either print or online journalism.
Of course we couldn’t let Lauren get away without answering our favorite four questions we always ask!
Favorite 90s TV show:
Spongebob. It’s an addiction and now I’ve been re-watching it while I babysit. Yes, I love it.
Purple, oh my god, it’s so bad. I own so much purple and people make fun of me. So yeah purple!
Favorite place to eat on-campus:
Most often it would be Susq, but the 7720 cafe in the admin building, the food there...uh, amazing!
Favorite class you ever took:
Weirdly enough it probably isn’t a journalism class. I took a cultural anthropology course and the professor just made you think about different ways to see the world. Professors have always said, “If you are texting in class I’m going to throw you out” and I’ve never had a professor say, “If you don’t care about these issues you can leave because I’m not going to lecture if you don’t think this is important or going to affect your future.” He was the coolest dude, I want to marry him.
Want to contact Lauren? Follow her on Twitter at @laurenslavin
*Image courtesy of Christopher Curry