This week’s campus celebrity recently brought another celebrity, Dan Rather, to our campus. As PAC coordinator, Emily Wiklund ’11, a political science and English major from Bloomington, Minn., was in charge of organizing Rather’s visit to St. Olaf, and got to spend a little quality time with this journalistic giant!
Her Campus St. Olaf: What has your experience as PAC coordinator been like?
Emily Wiklund:It’s been really great. I was on the committee for two years before this year, so it was nice to have that preparation and to have seen what it is that we do and ideas for events and topics that we can cover. This year’s been a really good experience. We’ve had a really great group of people on the committee, which has been really helpful for me. They have really great ideas for things we can do on campus.
HC: How do you go about getting someone like Dan Rather to come talk at St. Olaf?
EW:People like him – political speakers, media personalities – work with a particular agency that we contact when we think we’re interested in that person. Then, after we’ve come up with a list of people we’re interested in and contacted their agents, we figure out which people are within our budget and work on narrowing it down from there. Then we figure out dates and other logistical things.
HC: How did you decide on Dan Rather?
EW:We thought he would be a really good speaker to bring to St. Olaf. We all grew up seeing him on the news, and he’s so well respected.
HC: Did you get to hang out with him?
EW:We didn’t get as much time with him as we planned, since his plane was delayed because of bad weather on the East Coast. Our committee did get to spend some time talking with him, though. He’s such a fascinating person. He’s really humble and genuine for having done so much in his life, and really interesting and inspiring because he’s almost 80 years old but he’s still so involved and active.
HC: What did you talk about?
EW:We talked about what news sources he uses. He makes me feel bad – I barely get a chance to go online and read a little bit of news, and he talked about how he sometimes has the TV and the radio on at the same time, and he’s reading his paper, and on the internet… it’s just amazing. He told us about his most memorable experiences; he said covering the civil rights movement was definitely one of those. Also, Mother Theresa and her work was an incredible experience for him to cover.
HC: What from Dan Rather’s speech stuck out to you?
EW:I liked how much he emphasized our responsibility to find real news, to ask tough questions, to be active, to be engaged. I think that’s important, and we have so many opportunities to do it now with social media, news online, TV all the time. It’s a big responsibility, and I like how he emphasized being critical consumers of news. That was a good message for students, especially.
HC: What are you doing after you graduate?
EW:I am going out to D.C. to do a teaching residency year with a program called Capital Teaching Residency. I’ll be spending a year in an urban school learning how to be a teacher, basically. I’ll have a mentor teacher and I’ll be learning about urban education and working in early childhood education – four-year-olds!
HC: Is teaching your long-term career goal?
EW:Yes, for now! I’ve always been interested in education, and I’ve been thinking about going into it for a while. Hopefully I like it. I know it’s going to be a challenge, but I think it’ll be a really interesting and rewarding experience.
HC: Fill in these sentences:
St. Olaf women are…very intelligent, active and engaged on campus.
St. Olaf men are…nice, genuine people. They can be a little shy!
HC: Any advice for St. Olaf women?
EW:Don’t be afraid to take risks, to put yourself out there, to do things that you don’t necessarily think you’re completely comfortable with.