Monday, June 10, 2013

Andrea Baumgartner: Athlete Turned Journalist

Top 10 Andrea Fun Facts:
  1. She’s a New Year’s Eve baby (Dec. 31, 1991—a self-professed “happy little tax deduction”).
  2. Her favorite swimming stroke is freestyle.
  3. She has played the viola since fifth grade and was in the orchestra in high school.
  4. Her family religiously collects National Geographic. “We have a pile of them from floor to ceiling is our basement!” said Andrea.
  5. She holds a minor in earth, society and environment and is passionate about sustainability.
  6. She has a self-confessed addiction to reading.
  7. Her favorite smell in the world: “the pages of an old book.”
  8. Her dog’s name is Homer (he’s 11, but he “acts very immature for his age.”)
  9. She has one brother named Ian.
  10. She is obsessed with Bono from U2 and plans to "stalk him" when she travels with her family to Ireland at the end of the summer.  

In seventh grade Andrea Baumgartner, a 21-year-old Illinois native, was assigned to create her own magazine. She designed a swimming magazine and called her publication H2O. “It was my first opportunity to combine my two obsessions: swimming and magazines,” Baumgartner said.

As an intern this summer at Good Housekeeping, her dream to pursue a career in magazine journalism has risen to the forefront. A rising journalism senior at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Baumgartner was initially recruited to her university on a swimming scholarship. During her freshman and sophomore year, swimming was her central commitment. 

“I came to U of Illinois to swim, and I swam,” recalled Baumgartner of her beginning years on campus. 

However, one removed appendix and torn ligament later, Baumgartner was forced to shift focus. Journalism took center stage. 

Andrea began writing for the Arts and Entertainment section of Buzz, the university magazine. She quickly rose to the position of section editor. “Arts and Entertainment keeps me endlessly interested. There’s always something new and fresh—something to share with the student body,” Baumgartner said. 

And what are her arts and entertainment plans for her summer-stay in the Big Apple? “Broadway, the Met, MOMA—there’s so much to see! I can’t wait to bring what I experience here back to the [school] magazine.”

Baumgartner also began working as a Public Relations and Multimedia Intern for Transformation, Ethics and Arts (TEA), a start-up nonprofit researching the power of the arts in developing countries, in Feb. 2012.  

“She thinks thoroughly and creatively and with both sides of her brain, writes cogently and compellingly with words and as well as multimedia, and she gets the job done,” said Vernita Fort, Baumgartner’s boss at TEA, of her special creativity

When it comes to Baumgartner’s future prospects, Fort has full confidence that Baumgartner will “paint her own future.” 

“I can see her holding senior positions in any of the major national or international media houses of the world, leading, growing, and nurturing teams that deliver excellent and authoritative content. Just as easily, I can see her running her own company or organization with the same degree of excellence, or teaching up and coming journalists and writers the trade,” Fort said.

Where does Baumgartner see herself in ten years? “At this point, I could easily see myself working for a women’s interest magazine,” said Baumgartner. “But truthfully, I’ll be happy to find my niche at any publication.” 

Where does she want to be living? “NYC,” said Baumgartner without hesitation. “I’m going to conquer this city!”

Easier said then done. When asked about any unexpected New York moments since her arrival, Baumgartner laughed about her recent foray in Brooklyn. “I went with another ASME intern to find a flea market we had heard about, and ended up . . . well, we’re still not sure where. But in the end we found it! Not sure how we did that either.”

Being an ASME intern in the Big City is truly a dream come true for this athlete-turned-journalist. 

“When I walk outside, I still can’t believe I’m actually here” said Baumgartner. “It’s going to be the summer of my life—I can already feel it.”

By Hannah Dreyfus, Yeshiva University, Parade  
Edited by Harmony Huskinson, National Geographic

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