Anyone with a dream of becoming something, like a writer or doctor, usually has someone they’re inspired by. This semester’s senior scholar, Caitlin Rierson, has an especially interesting source for her aspiration to become a journalist.
“This is going to sound like a really weird reason to become a journalist, but I really love ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch,’” Rierson says. “And she was this journalist and she worked for a magazine, and I was just like ‘That’s so cool. I want to be just like her.’”
Rierson has always been a top scholar, thanks in part to her teaching mother. At Laguna Creek High School, where Rierson graduated in 2015, she took several honors and international baccalaureate classes, earning enough credits to help her graduate a semester early. She graduated this winter with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications.
When talking about students with high GPAs, Rierson says, “people either have that drive or they don’t.” Her parents pushed her to apply herself in all aspects of her education, even from a young age.
Originally from Sacramento, Rierson said she hadn’t taken any kind of journalism course in high school. It was her parents who found the University of Nevada, Reno. The University’s affordable tuition and proximity to home made it an easy choice. She originally wanted to major in communications but decided to switch to journalism in her sophomore year.
“I really liked how people communicated, but I also wanted to document how they communicated, so I decided to change my major,” Rierson said.
Rierson’s mentor is Professor Caesar Andrews. A normally shy student, Rierson says she didn’t usually speak up in class. Despite this, she said Professor Andrews made an impact on her, and she found herself actively seeking his advice.
Professor Andrews describes Rierson as an outstanding student and that he was impressed by her willingness to work hard and her persistence.
“Part of what is so satisfying is watching her evolve,” he said. “She brings a steady quality to the classroom. She starts working on an assignment or project in an understated way. But as time goes along, you begin to realize how focused she is on the task at hand. That’s impressive.”
Rierson says she wanted to become a photojournalist. She’s interned at her daily paper, the “Elk Grove Citizen,” as well as with “Sparks Tribune” and Dolan Auto Group. She mostly focused in photography but found an interest in social media after getting the chance to experiment with it at Dolan.
“And I was like, whoa, I actually kind of like posting on social media, figuring all this stuff, like when to post, what time, what tags to use, all that stuff,” she said. “So, I thought I would go into an internship that would teach me a little more about that so I could have more experience and a wider set of things to have a better idea of what I want to do.”
That internship turned out to be a public relations internship with the Reno Aces, which Rierson will start next spring.
Rierson is hopeful the Aces internship will turn into a job, but nevertheless, she’s grateful she attended the Reynolds School. “I don’t think I would have got the journalism degree, or as good of a journalism degree, from somewhere else closer to home,” she said.
“Everyone here is very accessible, too. Professors are just trying to meet with students. There’s a lot of space for a journalism community, which I think is really nice.”