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Robyn Spector ’13

This week’s Campus Celebrity, Robyn Spector ’13, has been known to carry a camera with her at all times, to capture beautiful moments and scenery, and can often be seen doing editing work for The Justice.  Not only is she a phenomenal photographer, but she is also the 2012 Sorensen Fellowship recipient, a fellowship awarded to students who wish to do a project for constructive social change in the international arean, and hopes to continue doing photography in the future.  Spector talks about what led her to this momentous occasion and her

AB: What year are you?
RS: 2013, but I’m old for my class because I took a gap-year before Brandeis.

AB: What is your major?
RS: Business and American Studies with a minor in Journalism.

AB: Where are you from?
RS: New York, New York

AB: How did you know you wanted to be a photojournalist?
RS: Well I’ve always been interested in photography but to be honest, I never really thought of it as something I could do full-time. I think growing up in a city where this just so much “people watching” to be done convinced me to use a camera a visual outlet for my perception.In elementary school, I was exposed to the work of Lewis Hine, the turn-of-the-century social documentarian who set out to photograph child labor in America. His camera told the stories the masses could no longer deny. I think what appeals to me about photojournalism is the freedom the visual medium gives me to combine my humanitarian ethics with my intellectual curiosity, all while connecting people through the story of a single frame.

AB: How did you get involved with The Justice?
RS: It was quick love. I was editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper for two years and I knew, entering Brandeis, that the newsroom was a great starting ground for really understanding the character and history of the university. I joined The Justice photography staff in my first few weeks of school, and soon knew all the names of the buildings on campus in addition to a wide range of events and programs offered to students. I became co-photography editor shortly thereafter; people started to recognize me as that girl with the noisy camera at events, but later “friended” me on Facebook to tag themselves in my photos. Now I’m an associate editor on The Justice, working to create an alumni network for the newspaper and on a weekly basis senior editing the arts section and serving on the editorial board

AB: I know you got the Sorensen fellowship, congratulations! Can you tell me about your project?
RS: Yes, thanks so much, I’m pretty excited. This summer, I’ll be working as a photojournalist and writer/reporter for the central English-language newspaper in Kigali, Rwanda, The New Times. It was founded in 1995, post-genocide and is “based on fair and balanced reporting without any confrontational tones, political or otherwise,” as stated on the newspaper’s website.

AB: What do you hope to accomplish through your project?
RS: Well one of the reasons I chose to apply for this internship was to examine the way media ethics in Rwanda differs from those I am used to back home. Rwanda’s recent history, and the media’s argued role in it, serve as an interesting contrast to today’s American democracy and its highly criticized and commercialized media. Here at Brandeis, as part of the Journalism program, and on The Justice, I am pushed to think about the relationship between media and government. I hope that this Sorensen experience will push me to look at this relationship through a very different lens and in a very different culture.

AB: What do you see yourself doing in a few years?
RS: Not sure exactly. I’m definitely open to traveling, photographing, but who knows.

AB: What are some pieces of advice you can offer for aspiring photographers and journalists?
RS: I agree with most journalism professors that you don’t learn journalism by simply sitting in a classroom; you’ve got to get out into the world and practice it. But journalists, whether we like to admit it or not, have a lot of power in publication, so I think you really have to weigh your instincts in a Kodak moment with the power to change the world in just one shot. That, of course, and always bring an extra memory card.

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