Her Campus Graduating Cutie: Katie Malone '19

Katie Malone is a true Her Campus icon who worked her way up the ladder from writer to section editor to managing and soon-to-be our next Editor-in-Chief. Lucky for us, as an AU graduate student, she’s sticking around. However, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to celebrate the wonderful and admirable person she has come to be over the past three years at American and two years in Her Campus.

I sat down with Katie in The Bridge to discuss her college experience, life in D.C. and aspirations for the future. Fair warning, things do get a bit wonky ahead.

HCAU: To start, tell me your major and where you’re from.

Katie Malone: I’m a political science major with a concentration in gender race and politics and a minor in communication studies. Communication studies is what I tell my aunts and uncles, though. I spend all my time in Ward/Kerwin.

I’m from Chester County, PA. Specifically, New London Township. It’s pretty small; there’s an Amish farm behind my house if that puts it in perspective.

HCAU: So I know you’re graduating a year early and are also doing your master’s degree, so you’ll graduate in four years with a masters. What led you to that decision?

K.M.: I knew I was going to graduate early and quite frankly I was scared. So I got the opportunity to do the Master’s degree. I knew I always wanted to do higher education, especially in [D.C.]. To me, it was just practical: save time, save money, rip the Band-Aid off.

HCAU: Did you always know you wanted to go into politics?

K.M.: It started as a very social justice ‘I want to change the world’ mentality but now I’m in political communication because I think the only way to have a well-functioning system, especially a democracy, is to have a well-informed public. You need to communicate to people what is happening behind closed doors that they would not know otherwise.

The example I always pull on is Exxon mobile sponsors super green bills so they can fit in their own loopholes. So you think it’s good for your community, but how would you know that? So I think it’s good to communicate to people so they can make decisions for themselves. I am not an all-knowing being who knows what’s good for the world, but I can help people by breaking down what happens.

HCAU: So what do you think the current biggest unawareness is that’s happening in American society?

K.M.: My current niche is corporate influence on legislation. It’s entrenched in our system and corporations think they know what’s the best for us when it’s really what’s best for them.

HCAU: What do you think has been a defining moment at AU for you?

K.M.: I don’t think it’s a moment with AU but moments within D.C. Going to different parts of cities, when I went places that were really niche, I just loved knowing that I could hop on a train and had the freedom to go anywhere. Like that blows my mind every single day. Having that UPass and feeling like I can just go places is amazing to me. It’s like the freedom people have when they get their first care but I’m a nervous driver so I didn’t really get it there.

HCAU: Where’s your favorite spot in D.C.?

K.M.: I would say Petworth. They have thrift stores I love, coffee shops, but it holds onto a lot of authenticity. It is not quite gentrified yet and I think the fact it is partly gentrified says a lot about it. There’s a lot of problematic things in the neighborhoods we go to. You can see Petworth is holding onto some of its cultural roots. This is also why I like to appreciate it from afar because I’m a white gal so it’s something I love  but it is also something I know is not necessarily my place.  

HCAU: Tell me about your time on Her Campus.

K.M.: So I’m a little bit of a late bloomer. I didn’t start on Her Campus until my second year here but I hit the ground running. I did a lot of searching my first year trying to find a place that I enjoyed. With Her Campus, it was automatically do what you want and we’ll make it work and that was really freeing. It fell on my shoulders to decide what to write about and it was always super encouraging, super positive.

What was your best moment with Her Campus?

K.M.: I got to write for D.C. fashion week which honestly started as a scam at first because I wanted to go and then realized that a press pass would get me there but I actually really enjoyed writing about it. There were cool things to write about that weren’t just the clothes, there was a lot of diversity and responding to the way the city and world is.

What advice would you give to a freshman coming to AU for the first time?

K.M.: Just do things, regardless of what your friends want to do. If you’re interested, just do it. If you’re hungry, go get lunch at that place you’ve always wanted to by yourself. Stop waiting on people to do the things you want to do. Just do them. Be uncomfortable, go do the things. Only things that are safe, but in general, do things.

What’s next for you?

K.M.: Starting in June, I’m going to be doing a fellowship for GovLoop. Essentially, role is a form of government tech reporting. They’re part of a larger company that does cloud-based technology for the government. This smaller section is a way for people in the local and federal level to connect, do leadership training, learn about new resources. I know little about this but I am excited because it all goes back to that main goal of helping people understand what’s going on so they can make the best decisions for themselves.

HCAU: Is there a specific area of government that you think has the most room for change?

K.M.: It’s all about the local level. How are you supposed to care what the latest bill they’re passing in congress is if my kids school isn’t get funding? It’s all about initiating change at the local level and working its way up and engaging with people at the local level because that’s the stuff you deal with every day. We get in this bubble at D.C. and AU but some abstract political scandal isn’t really what people care about.

HCAU: Do you see yourself working at the local level?

K.M.: I don’t know. Katie laughs.

It seems like you’re going through a lot of changes right now. Who is a woman you look up to?

K.M.: Long convoluted back story short, I don’t have this central matriarch that I’ve always looked up to. My mom wasn’t really in my life. I feel more inclined to say I had a lot of female role models drift in at the right time that helped me grow in different ways. I can point to guidance counselors in elementary school and teachers in high school letting me cry during lunch and I can point to friends during those times. It has been 21 years of really great women coming into my life when I needed them and not realizing that but I would not be the same person without them.

HCAU: How would your friends define you?

K.M.: I’m actually going to Annapolis with my friends this weekend for my birthday and I’m fighting with them because they want to treat me. I think they’re treating me by hanging out with me, and staying with me and they want to just celebrate my accomplishments and put the spotlight on me. I like to silently do my work, get things done and have that speak for itself. I don’t like to have the spotlight on me. I think they would say I like my work and my attitude and the things that I do for them to speak for itself. I’m also crazy type A.

HCAU: Is that also how you would define yourself?

K.M.: I think it is pretty spot on. I think a lot of people don’t see all the little things that I am making sure go well. They know I overthink stuff but not quite how much. People see the big picture result but they don’t see how I think of everything that can go wrong and make sure it doesn’t. It drives me crazy.

HCAU: What was your favorite article you wrote for HC?

K.M.: I really like the one that was in print this semester. I wrote about multi-level marketing organizations and people looked and they were like what are you talking about and then they were like oh I’ve been there. It was cool to write about a topic everyone can relate to even if they don’t know they can relate to it yet. Also, I went in with an opinion and my opinion changed.

HCAU: If you were stranded on an island, not thinking about survival, what would you bring with you?

K.M.: Another person. I would bring some level of companionship because I would absolutely crazy. I need someone to strategize with and also keep me from going crazy. Also a really big micro-foam mattress and really comfortable shoes. Just let me die in comfort on my island.

HCAU: Describe to me your perfect day.

K.M.: I’m not setting an alarm so I wake up naturally but it just so happens to be 9:30 exactly. Then, I’d get really good diner food with slightly burnt coffee and vegetarian sausage. Then an artist I really like would have a show at a museum and I would get there and, on my perfect day, the artist would of course be there and we would hang out. Then I would have an A plus dinner – something that’s full of vegetables that still tastes unhealthy like veggie stir fry. Then spending the night in my apartment with friends talking about our weeks, having a bottle of wine and playing Mario Cart.

HCAU: What are you most excited about in Her Campus next semester?

K.M.: I’m excited to see people step up. I’m excited to see who rises to the challenge and decides to make Her Campus their spot on campus. There’s so much newness.

HCAU: Any last words of wisdom to share to the masses?

K.M.: Do whatever you want, man. Change your major, quit your job, kiss that person you want to kiss. This is the time to do stupid things that don’t make any sense just to see if they pay off. Try it. No consequence is really going to hit that hard. Don’t jump off a building but don’t be afraid to take a risk. Just try it and quit if you want to.


All Photo Credit to the Graduating Cutie