Eggplant Co-Editor Carolyn Bernucca Speaks Out Against Social Injustice

Name: Carolyn Bernucca

Year: Junior    

Age: 20               

Major: Public Relations

Hometown: Berlin, Connecticut    

Courtesy: Carolyn Bernucca

Her Campus (HC): What made you choose FSU?

Carolyn Bernucca (CB): A lot of things. My senior year of high school was a really brutal winter, and up to that point I had only applied to schools in the North. As winter started getting more and more brutal, I thought that I should apply to schools in the South that I had a good chance of getting into. Florida State was always on my radar because my dad has always been into Florida State football. But I didn’t know a lot about it other than that they had a public relations major and the program was really good. I picked it on a whim and wound up coming here. It was a pretty impulsive decision.

HC: What do you love most about Florida State University?

CB: Something that I didn’t realize is that FSU is a huge research university. I've gotten really interested in research, and I love the fact that we have an undergraduate research program where people can create their own projects and present their findings. Also, the school spirit here is really great. That's something that really attracted me to Florida State when I first came here. I really feel that there's something for everyone here. Another thing I love is that we have the Golden Tribe Lectures Series with speakers like Arianna Huffington. I think it’s an incredible opportunity that we get to hear these people speak for free. I'm constantly telling people from home about the stuff our school is doing. I think this school does such a great job of making sure there's always something for you to do and always something new for you to discover about Florida State University.

HC: How did you get involved in The Eggplant?

CB: I'm actually very close with the two people that started it, Aubrey Burrough and Houston Barber. We were in another comedy group my freshman year, but we all left that. I didn’t talk to them that much for the first month of that spring semester of my freshman year, but they started putting out these articles. When I realized it was them, I immediately asked how I could get involved. I had always been a good writer, but I didn’t really think I could do comedy writing. I'd never done it before. One week I had a story pitch, and they asked me if I wanted to write it. I was so happy, and from then on I was a staff writer until spring of last year when Houston Barber graduated. Now I've moved into the Editor-in-Chief position with Aubrey Burrough.

HC: What does the Editor-in-Chief position entail?

CB:  Aubrey and I are both responsible for having weekly meetings, where we brainstorm ideas and talk about what's going on that weekend that we have to cover. We brainstorm other random ideas that aren’t really typical, but are just funny things we can write about. We run those meetings and sometimes I produce content, depending on if there's a really good story pitch that I want to write. Sometimes I'll have an idea and pitch it to someone else, or take on articles that other people aren’t necessarily passionate about. The biggest thing that we do is edit each story every day. That ranges from a grammatical read-through to a partial or full re-write. It really just depends on the quality of the work. Typically editing is collaborative, but Aubrey and I oversee the editing and settle any disputes over what will be edited. We also post the stories every day on social media.

HC: The Eggplant is now the number one satirical college website in the nation. To what do you attribute its success?

CB: We did have an investor last year who helped us a lot with the business side of things, like creating a real website. When it started, it was just stories being posted on a Tumblr account. We had somebody who knew how to run the site and link it up with social media. We promoted and boosted posts to make sure they were getting more feed time. I also think that Florida State being a nationally-recognized university that's always in the headlines—for good or bad reasons—has given us a lot of material to work with. The talent of our staff is ultimately the biggest factor. They're some of the funniest people I've met in my entire life. We have a few staff members who I know will make this their career one day. This is what they were born to do, and we are so lucky that this is how they chose to curate that talent. 

“This limited edition cover photo is proof of the hotness and straight-face abilities of our staff.” –The Eggplant FSU

Courtesy: Katie Sue Logue

HC: Since you started at The Eggplant, you have also taken on positions at Seppuwa Falls Gazette and Rise News. How do you come up with the countless ideas for content, week-in and week-out?

CB: Seppuwa Falls is a little different. It's a web series that's going to be submitted to Channel One, which is a television competition based in New York. Essentially after every episode is submitted, people vote to decide what stays. Many of those shows go on to be picked up and broadcasted on different networks. One of the contestants and their head writers approached me this summer to ask if myself and the rest of The Eggplant staff wanted to help them write this complementary project, which is a satirical newspaper to go along with the web series. For that, ideas are easier to come up with because we have a script and episodes we're trying to coincide with. Rise News is regular stuff. I love writing satire, but ultimately I think my career will wind up being in journalism. I really want to be a hip-hop journalist, but I would be willing to write any culture pieces. For Rise News, it’s not difficult because it’s what I love. The stuff that I'm writing is what I'm passionate about. It’s a lot, but the positions are all very different.

HC: If you had to pick, what would be your favorite article that you have ever written?

CB: Most of our articles are collaborative, so it’s very rare to have one written by a single person. One of my favorites that I had a very big part in was our fake editorial from last year's student body president after he voted for John Thrasher to become our university president. Typically my favorite articles to write are those that are based on polarizing issues because I think that it's important to take a stance. I think it's easy to say, "I'm neutral," but that's just avoiding confrontation. It takes so much more to take a stand and speak out against somebody if you think they've done something wrong. In that case, it was a situation where Stefano [Cavallaro]’s job was to represent the student body, and the majority of the student body didn't feel that John Thrasher was qualified to be our president. But Stefano ignored that, and that’s not okay. That is an injustice to us. The reason it's my favorite is because I want to be a journalist and cover those kinds of issues. So if I can do that and make it funny so that more people are talking about it, then that is all I can really ask for.

HC: Are you a part of any other organizations on campus?

CB: Lady Spirithunters and the Florida Public Relations Association student chapter.

HC: How do you balance your heavy workload and your social life?

CB: It’s difficult. This has definitely been my hardest semester. This is my first semester in the PR program. I'm very big on mental health and trying to be self-aware of when I'm pushing myself too hard. I used to have a really bad habit of procrastinating. Once you stop procrastinating, life becomes so much easier. I've reached a point where I can’t afford to procrastinate anymore. I'm constantly thinking about what else I can be doing right now. I'm self-aware of my workload and I don’t let things slip out of sight, out of mind. I remind myself that I'm a human being and need to relax and take a second for myself.

HC: What do you do in your free time?

CB: I really love watching drama movies, dark comedies and independent films. I'm also on social media all the time. I love Twitter. I'm trying to get to 500 followers by my next birthday, so follow me! I love reading, but I'm almost never reading books. I'm always reading something online, whether it be the news or culture pieces. As I said, I would love to be a hip-hop journalist, so I'm very into reading about music. Staying up-to-date about what's going on in culture and in politics are my two biggest hobbies in addition to watching movies.

HC: What is the best thing you can take away from all of your experiences?

CB: That sometimes it's not my place to speak up, and that's something that I've struggled with for a very long time. I'm very much into social activism and social justice, and I have so much to say about every marginalized group, like the LGBT community or Black Lives Matter. It's all positive, but those groups don’t need my validation or my words to help them. The reason I struggle with this is because I'm part Spanish, part Mexican and part Native American. However, I am very obviously white passing. So I'm very passionate about marginalized races and ethnic groups. When I speak on those issues, people are going to listen to me because I'm white and I have that privilege where people will hear what I want to say. While that's great, I can also use it to uplift the voices that are actually in those marginalized groups who can give a first-hand perspective because their voices may not be heard. But no matter how positive and supportive what I'm saying is, it's not always my place. That's something I have learned from The Eggplant and in general as a writer.

HC: What are your plans for the future?

CB: I will probably move to New York or Chicago. I grew up in Brooklyn until I was nine. So Brooklyn will always be really close to my heart. There's no place on earth like New York City or Chicago, and no one can tell me otherwise. There are so many things that I want to do. Part of me wants to become a copywriter at a public relations agency. Another part of me wants to own my own agency. A small part of me is thinking about pursuing research. My ultimate dream job would definitely be as a hip-hop journalist for The FADER or a culture journalist for Complex where I can write about any and all things pop-culture.

HC: Do you have any advice for college students struggling to find their next step in life?

CB: Hang out with yourself. Spend time on your own. I am a very social person and love all of my friends dearly, but I value my alone time so much. It's so important for self-reflection and figuring out what you have done, what are you doing right now and what are you going to do next. It's just beneficial to the college experience overall and a lot of people don’t learn that until they're a lot older.