Monday, June 24, 2013

Becoming Allison

Legs crossed, arms folded, and head tilted to the side, she laughs. It starts as a giggle, then bubbles upwards, building into a boisterous sound that demands a second look. Asked about career aspirations, she smiles bashfully at a memory before letting me in on the secret.

“The doctor told me I’d never be tall enough,” she says. “I cried. It was my whole life goal.”

Allison Pohle will never be a Radio City Rockette.

Dreams dashed as a young girl, it wasn’t until high school that she discovered a new calling: storytelling. Encouraged by others who told her she was a good writer, Pohle enrolled in a journalism course her junior year of high school and the spark ignited.

“I liked writing about people, hearing their stories,” Pohle explains.

Now a rising senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she will graduate in May with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and an emphasis in Arts and Culture. Pohle’s most recent credentials involve an internship with TNT Magazine, based in London, England where she spent the past semester.

Pohle worked mainly for the magazine’s travel and lifestyle sections as well as creating daily news updates. The petite staff size offered her opportunities to write, research and conduct interviews with civilians on the street. She was also able to indulge in the national pastime.

“They took lots of tea breaks,” Pohle says. “Three times a day.”

A self-described anglophile (lover of all things British), she had set lofty expectations for her time abroad and immersed herself beyond just high tea. Part of Pohle's obsession with England stems from her unabashed love for the author Jane Austen.

Pohle’s love of Austen began when she read Pride and Prejudice, which became both her favorite book and movie. She describes the story as the “epitome of British culture” and says Austen portrays the world “as it was” and not as people wanted it to be.

Once, during her time across the pond, Pohle left her flatmates and the city behind to explore both Austen’s country home in Alton and the estate on which Mr. Darcy’s dashing character is based.
Allison, experiencing Jane Austen first hand.
“I went by myself,” Pohle says, straightening in her chair. “I spent the entire day there. I sat and I wrote and it truly felt like the England I’d been waiting for.”

Stateside, Pohle enjoyed time with her family in her hometown of Solon, Ohio before relocating to New York City for the summer. She is currently an editorial intern at Meredith’s Ladies Home Journal and a participant of the American Society of Magazine Editor’s (ASME) internship program.

Splitting her time chiefly between the health and entertainment sections, Pohle is motivated by the same goals that guide her hectic collegiate life back at Mizzou. Friend and fellow journalism student, Bethany Christo, describes Allison as a natural storyteller.

“She’s courteous, charming, and very wise,” says Christo. “I know she’s going to be an awesome journalist because she finds the greatest stories.”

Christo recalls one particular feature Pohle wrote on unschooling, a type of child-led learning where the students determine their course of study without guidance from their parents, in homes around Missouri. The story, uncovered by Pohle, was published in Inside Columbia, a local magazine.

“Parents were afraid about how they would be portrayed,” says Christo. “Allison made them feel completely comfortable and put them at ease.”

Now, in Manhattan, sitting back in her chair with her wide eyes focused and tawny hair pulled over her shoulders, it’s not hard to see how.

“I’ve always been told I’m a good listener and I listen more than I talk,” Pohle says. “I want people to feel like they can be heard, to know that they are noticed and important.”

As she muses, she speaks of common human experiences and how people can relate to shared moments, feeling connected across time and space, linked together through the words of an article or finding solace from a complete stranger. The power of the written word. She is so drawn to the art of storytelling that although she she has now grown to the full height of a Radio City Rockette (her doctor was wrong about her height projections), she cannot imagine being anything but a journalist.

So while she may never strut down 6th Avenue in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, high stepping at Radio City Music Hall, Allison Pohle will always be the Lizzy Bennet of ASME, summer 2013.

By: Carlos J. Anchondo, Trinity University, Sports Illustrated
Edited by: Arielle Pardes, University of Pennsylvania, Martha Stewart Living

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