Destanie Martin-Johnson

Destanie took on a leadership role with PRISM: Diversity in Media.
Graduation year
Maple Grove, Minnesota

Interview by Alex Smith

Why did you decide to become a journalism major? 

I've always loved to write and knew studying it would make me happy and help me toward a direction of a good career as a writer.

What has been your favorite part of your experience at Hubbard SJMC?

Most likely my lab design and editing classes and the cameras and software materials students get to use. I have also enjoyed my leadership role in PRISM: Diversity in Media student group. 

What journalism class or professor has had the biggest impact on you?

I took Magazine and Feature Writing (Jour 3173W), as well as an arts reporting class (Jour 4171) my junior and senior years. Each had a big impact on me because they sparked the most interest in me. I would say these courses helped me shape what I wanted my future career to look like in arts journalism.

Did you pursue any minors, internships or fields of interest outside your Journalism major? 

I have studied communication studies and studied abroad in Spain. Although was only abroad for a month, I have studied Spanish throughout my life. I hope to become fluent one day. I think that being bilingual, experiencing other cultures, or studying other subjects can help any writer because it adds to your perspective and creativity.

How has being a leader of PRISM impacted your experience as a student? 

My experience with PRISM helped me feel more connected to campus. The University of Minnesota is a large, and frankly, a mostly white school. I feel that PRISM brought me closer to campus and helped me build connections with students and faculty. It felt great to be a part of something that fit who I was and made me feel like I belong. The most important thing I learned from it was the responsibility and leadership it took to remain an organized and prominent group on campus. Now as I interview for jobs in the beginning of my career, I reflect on PRISM a lot and can see how much I grew as a professional during my time as vice president and president.

What is something about HSJMC that most people wouldn't know? 

There is a library on the basement floor! A lot of people don't know this! Also, SJMC isn't just for people that want to learn to be on TV news. Some people assume that about the school, but it's so much more than that. There are skills to the craft and a history that is fascinating. These courses teach you skills that prepare you for work that can be very difficult but also very rewarding.

What journalism course would you recommend for other students on your major? 

I recommend magazine writing, arts journalism or design classes. These are the elective classes that fit in areas that I really enjoyed. I think everyone should try taking a class or two in an area of interest, like photojournalism or journalism law. It's important because journalism is so broad and used everywhere. If you have an area that interests you more or that you are better at, I think it would be wise to follow that into something that could turn into a career.

What are your favorite news sources?

I love Upworthy's short video clips often featured on Facebook or other social media sites. Although it typically isn't very in-depth news, it's still a quick insight into an interesting or timely topic. I also love watching the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and reading the Star Tribune and the New York Times. I think that having multiple different news sources is important to get different types and different sides of stories.

What advice do you have for future HSJMC students? 

Take diverse courses if you're unsure of what path you should be on. My courses helped me understand, for the most part, what I enjoyed, what I didn't enjoy, what I was good at or what I was not very good at. Reach out to professors early if you're struggling with an assignment or just need some advice, you'd be surprised at how willing they are to help, you just have to ask! And lastly, time management is huge. I know it's cliche and everyone generally knows that rule, but if you can focus, understand how you best work and combine that with getting started early on stories or video projects due for class than you will be very successful.

Destanie Martin-Johnson