Campus Celebrity: Editor-in-Chief, Heidi Gempeler

Heidi Gempeler is the epitome of the American Dream and here’s why…

Originally from Oregon, Wisconsin, Heidi is a junior at UW-La Crosse, majoring in Organization and Professional Communication Studies, minoring in Professional Writing, and…she is the new Editor-in-Chief of UWL’s one and only newspaper, The Racquet. But she didn’t start out that way…

Here is what she had to say about how she made it from “the bottom of the food chain” to top of the pyramid:

How did you get involved with The Racquet? What made you decide to become Editor-in-Chief?  

I joined The Racquet’s staff during my first semester at UWL. I started as a Features Reporter for the first two weeks, and then was quickly promoted to Features Editor that semester. During my sophomore year, I became the Managing Editor, who is meant to take on the role as Editor-in-Chief during the next calendar year. I decided to become Editor-in-Chief from my extensive past experience on staff, and also because of my interest in working for a publication one day. Working for The Racquet is a part of my college experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have gained so much beneficial experience already in my two years on staff, and I knew that taking on this position would only benefit me more. 

What plans do you have for The Racquet as Editor-in-Chief; What do you hope to achieve?

Right now, we are in the process of developing a Racquet app (sponsored by Student Association and ResLife) with USA Today’s The Buzz. We are also in the midst of hiring a brand new staff of reporters, photographers and advertising executives this month, so it’s extremely busy in The Racquet office at this time! This year, we are hoping to do more with our online appearance on our website and social media pages. We want to make The Racquet a source of news that every UWL student knows about. 

What do you enjoy most about The Racquet?    

I definitely enjoy the staff members the most. A lot of the people that I work with (currently and in the past) have become great friends, and for the most part we all work extremely well together. I love that everyone is willing to go above and beyond, especially my Editorial Staff. I also have been given great networking opportunities through The Racquet, which is also extremely beneficial! 

What have you learned from The Racquet, and what do you hope to gain as Editor-in-Chief? 

I have honestly learned so much from working for The Racquet in the past two years. I started from the bottom of the food chain on The Racquet’s staff (so to speak), and worked my way up to Editor-in-Chief. Having so much experience with The Racquet has given me the opportunity to really learn what it takes to publish a newspaper every week from start to finish. It might look easy, but it is a lot of work from coordinating reporters and photographers, write articles and attending events on campus to selling advertisements to local businesses each week. Working for The Racquet has taught me to pay special attention to details as well. When putting together layout for the paper each week, we spend a lot of time fact-checking, spell checking, adding photographs and paid advertisements to each page, as well as overall making sure that each piece fits well onto the page. It is a time consuming process.

What has been your biggest struggle so far as Editor-in-Chief? What did you do to prepare for this position?  

My biggest struggle so far has been adjusting to all of my responsibilities as the head editor of this paper. I am in charge of the overall production of The Racquet, which includes approving final layout, hiring new staff members, holding staff and adviser meetings, and so many other things. I prepared for my position by shadowing the past Editor-in-Chief, Nicole Laegeler, while serving as the Managing Editor all of last year. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?  

I wanted to go into musical theater and go on broadway after being in four musical productions at my high school. I also wanted to be a music teacher for a while. 

What is your dream job after college?    

My dream job would be working for Olivia Pope (for those of you who watch Scandal), but the plan right now is to attend graduate school for Public Relations post-graduation. After graduate school, I hope to work for a PR firm either in Wisconsin or somewhere in the Midwest.

From Features Reporter to Managing Editor to Editor-in-Chief, I think it’s safe to say Heidi is well on her way to her dream job of one day working for a publication! Good luck, Heidi!