The Columns

Producing News: Maggie Voelzke ’15 Alumni at Work, CNN News Associate, Washington, D.C. Bureau

— by on September 5th, 2016

Maggie Voelzke '15

“How amazing is it that I found this school, and it had the degree I ended up wanting to pursue? How lucky am I?”

“If I went back, I wouldn’t change a thing,” Maggie Voelzke, ’15, said. “I think every decision I made at W&L contributed to where I am now.”

So where is Voelzke exactly? She is a news associate at CNN’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.

A native of D.C., Voelzke headed back to join 10-12 recent graduates in the yearlong program that rotates them between four shows including ‘State of the Union’ and ‘Inside Politics’ as well as the assignment desk.

Her time is spent all over the office; she helps set up live shots for shows, works the prompter in the control room, compiles information on what CNN’s D.C. bureau is reporting and what other networks are reporting.

Starting at W&L, Voelzke did not have the intention to major in journalism.

“How amazing is it that I found this school, and it had the degree I ended up wanting to pursue? How lucky am I?”

She credits a first-year seminar taught by Professor Doug Cumming as giving her a jump-start into the field.

Voelzke says her first paper for the course was a wake-up call to the style of journalism. Having taken advanced English courses in high school, she wrote a “beautiful essay” with “big words and complex sentences.”

“I thought [Cumming] was going to give me my degree that day.”

However, Cumming called her into his office and indicated the paper was far from what he wanted.

From then on Voelzke began pursuing journalism, saying it was fresh and different from what she had expected.

Voelzke says the journalism department at W&L taught her work skills she uses frequently: Understanding what it means to meet a deadline and have it done early and professionally, having integrity and knowing media law.

While at W&L Voelzke was a tour guide, a resident advisor, a member of SPEAK, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and an anchor on The Rockbridge Report.

Voelzke said her decisions at W&L, even the hard ones, helped get her to where she is now.

“Even the times that were difficult, like getting an F for a fact error in class, I wouldn’t change. They help you grow.”

Offering advice for current students, Voelzke said to cultivate relationship with professors, pursue classes outside of your major and take advantage of W&L’s special atmosphere.

“Live every moment of your time at W&L. It’s a magical place. The culture, the history, all the amazing events you get to go to. That just doesn’t happen at other schools.”

Voelzke said one of her favorite memories at W&L was during her graduation week when her friends and family went to dinner at The Sheridan Livery Inn. She said they all relived the memories of their last four years at W&L.

“You make your friends there, but you also make a family there.”

Update: Voelzke took a position at FOX 5 in Washington, D.C. in November. She is a morning broadcast producer and weekend digital content producer.

– by Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder ’16