Meet Olivia Wales
Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Why did you choose Texas Christian University?
I was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas. Growing up in a college town that rallies around the Arkansas Razorbacks was so much fun. However, many of my friends were headed to the University of Arkansas and while that would have been easy and safe, I needed a challenge. I chose TCU because it was the perfect mix between a small, tight-knit student body that reminded me of my Fayetteville community who supported me as I grew up, and the large DFW area that provided exciting challenges and opportunities.
What led you to pick journalism as your major?
I came to TCU without any journalism experience or knowledge. I wanted to choose an occupation that helped people, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like for me. Pre-Med? Business? I went back and forth, but ultimately, I realized that journalists do a service to society through seeking the truth and reporting it. Journalism wields great power in challenging authority and exposing injustices, and I wanted to help people through writing and reporting the truth.
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had because of your major?
The greatest opportunity I had was when I traveled to New York City to cover the TCU Men’s Basketball NIT semifinal game in Madison Square Garden. I traveled with two other members of TCU 360, the student-run online news site, and we were able to sit court-side and cover the game. That semester, I pitched the idea to start covering basketball games on Instagram through live updates and court-side videos to bring fans to the game who could not attend in person. I love that the journalism program was open to my new idea and gave me the power to try it out for the first game of the season. The coverage was well-received, and the journalism program, TCU 360, hired me to continue doing the coverage. I have covered basketball, football and volleyball on Instagram ever since. I respect the journalism program for truly listening to new ideas for improvement that students have and giving student journalists the ability to put their ideas into practice.
What has been your favorite journalism class you have taken and why?
Reporting with professor Jean Brown. This class challenged me in my writing, but it also gave me real journalism experience. I was writing on tight deadlines, covering the Student Government Association beat and talking to many students every week. It was a difficult class, but the one where both my writing and reporting skills improved the most.
What advice do you have for students in high school looking to pursue a career in journalism?
Don’t wait until you feel confident, start now. Write the story, interview the source, apply for a job at the newspaper even if you’ve never written a story, and take what you get. Everyone has to start somewhere, and often it’s the hard work behind the scenes at the beginning that teaches you the principle of diligence that is essential for future success.