Success Stories

Essential experience

Ashley Chaney

When Grand Valley journalism student Ashley Chaney was a little girl she often spent time thumbing through the pages of Essence magazine with bright eyes and admiration. So she was overjoyed when she found out that she would be interning at Essence, the leading magazine for African American women in the country.

“To intern for the publication that inspired me to be a journalist - what more can a student can ask for,” Chaney said.

The night before her scheduled start date she received an email with a laundry list of tasks to complete the next morning. Instead of waiting, she dove right in. She spent that evening scouring the streets of New York looking for a place to print copies of an article for all the directors at Essence. The next morning she arrived for her first day with the desired copies in hand and first task completed.

“I looked at this just like an extended interview, so everything I did, I wanted it to be my best,” she said.

Chaney spent most of her time researching potential story ideas, helping other staff writers with research and working with the other interns on an enterprising final project. She says the highlight of her summer was an unexpected invitation to a small dinner party at Essence editorial director Susan Taylor’s house.

“After all the other guests left, the other two interns and I stayed to help with the dishes,” Chaney said. “I couldn’t believe we were in Susan Taylor’s kitchen putting away her dishes! Meanwhile, Susan and her husband were dancing and singing to John Coltrane!”

Chaney gives recognition to the people of her hometown, Grand Rapids and her school, Grand Valley State University.

“I am who I am today because of the people in my community,” Chaney said. “There’s a lot of change needed in this area and being here allowed me to not only grow as a journalist but it taught me to not be complacent and do my part to promote change in my community.”

Chaney, a senior, has written for both the Grand Rapids Press and the Lanthorn. She founded a campus minority publication, Stand-Up and continues to serve the community through volunteer work as a member of Delta Sigma Theta.

by Jazmine Steele

This story was filed with the tags: Academic Excellence, Diversity, Internships, Undergraduate Student