Mary Pautsch: News editor of diversity

Mary Pautsch, news editor of diversity, sits at the anchor desk at KTIV Channel 4 in Sioux City where she interned in the summer of 2017.

Courtesy of Mary Pautsch

Mary Pautsch, news editor of diversity, sits at the anchor desk at KTIV Channel 4 in Sioux City where she interned in the summer of 2017.

Mary Pautsch

Two summers ago I thought I had accepted a job that I would love that fit along greatly with my career path of Spanish education. I was the middle school teacher for a summer school-esque program in my hometown of Sioux City through a wonderful organization called the Mary J. Treglia Community House.

“Mary Treg” (as we called it for short) supplies a wide variety of immigrant services, from a preschool, to adult ESL classes, to legal services, and everything in-between including a summer learning program for first-generation American, immigrant and at-risk students.

I thought grades six through eight in math, reading and occasional social studies and science. If anyone reading this can reflect back on their own time in middle school, you can probably imagine what kind of experience it would be to teach pre-teens.

Throughout the summer, I realized that I truly did not like to work with kids, and honestly, would not be winning teacher of the year anytime soon. I could not relate to kids very much, and they could not connect easily with me in return. The only time I think I had every student quiet in my class of 25 for a 45-minute class was when I centered a reading lesson around a band called Twenty One Pilots that they all seemed to be obsessed with.

After my time at Mary Treg ended and I returned to Iowa State, I was already on the fence about continuing down the education route. I explored other options I thought I could possibly excel in, and enrolled in two 100-level journalism classes. I figured, “Hey I’m a fair enough writer. Why the heck not? If anything I should be able to get some easy A’s.”

During the first week of my junior year, Mark Witherspoon, the adviser for the Daily, and Jenna Hrdlicka, former news editor, came and spoke to my first journalism class to try and recruit students to join. Instantly, I knew I was hooked. This is what I actually wanted to do for a career.

After class, I met up with the two reps. I learned quickly to call this extravagant and passionate adviser with cowboy boots and a long white ponytail “Spoon,” and to come meet in his office later in the week.

I met with Spoon a few days later, signed up for the family and education beat with Jenna as my editor. I left, went back to my apartment, checked my email and found that I had already received an email saying to come to a reporter meeting. From that meeting, I took up my first story, about cherry pie sales

After that first story, I was thrown into the deep end of the reporting pool. I moved on to the then newly established diversity section the following semester, learning to love everything that came with it.

Diversity helped me come full circle to where I came from, reaching out to communities that are underrepresented and giving them a voice in an environment where they may otherwise be kept silent and in the shadows of the media world. Just minus having to deal with kids in place they don’t want to be.

Now I have the honor of leading the diversity news section at the Daily, and get to have conversations everyday about representation and inclusion in the community both in and out of the office. Although I may be a little late to the game compared to most about finding a place at Iowa State and in my career, I’m glad I found a home.