After a semester abroad in London, the junior has returned to serve as station manager of Elon's student-run television station.
By Julia Oakes ’22
Many challenges come with starting college. Among them is how to meet people. For Abbie Vandruff ’20, joining the entertainment talk show “ETalk” and beginning her Elon Student Television journey was the resolution to this challenge.
The cinema & television arts and strategic communications double major immediately felt a sense of community and belonging with ESTV. She knew she had finally found a home that would nurture her passions and professional aspirations.
By her second semester, Vandruff had jumped into the organization with both feet and was promoted to associate producer for “ETalk.” But she wanted more.
The idea of applying for station manager was foreign to her. Taking on a high-level leadership role seemed ambitious for a sophomore, even for an enthusiastic Vandruff. But the role seemed to become more attainable once she got to know former station manager Melissa Douglas ’18, whom Vandruff admired.
“When I saw and met her and figured out that she was station manager, I thought it was something I could do,” Vandruff said. “It was definitely something that mirrored what I would want to do in the real world.”
Thanks to the encouragement from her ESTV friends, including Douglas, and her unfaltering determination, Vandruff applied for the job and was elected by the Elon Student Media Board.
Vandruff served as station manager during the spring 2018 semester before she went abroad to London last fall. Since returning stateside, she has picked up where she left off.
Being the station manager in charge of all five of ESTV’s shows is just as complicated as it sounds. Vandruff’s multifaceted role, in short, includes managing the output, production and operations of the shows. In other words, Vandruff said she is the “main line” between show producers, meaning she is in charge of maintaining open lines of communication between them.
“Basically, I keep track of the organization’s budget, keep an eye on making sure the shows are on schedule and that their production quality is as high as it can be,” she said. Beyond that, Vandruff humorously described her position as “lots of emailing.”
Managing an entire organization can be challenging, but Vandruff said she is proud to be involved with an organization she is so passionate about.
“I think that it offers something really cool for a lot of students, so it’s really fun for me to be able to have such a big part of it,” she said. “I knew it was going to be a challenge, especially because I was still pretty young when I started it, but I figured it would be worth it. And it definitely was very rewarding.”
The development of better communication skills, implementation of new routines and wearing of “a lot of different hats” are all skills that Vandruff said she has acquired since she began leading the student media organization.
“It has taught me a lot about communicating with a lot of different personalities,” she said.
Since returning from her time abroad, Vandruff said that getting back into the swing of ESTV has been exciting, despite the overwhelming amount of information she has been catching up on.
“You kind of forget that there is a lot that needs to be taken care of,” she said. “It will definitely take some getting used to.”
While the task of catching up on a semester’s worth of information and planning for the next year of ESTV can be daunting, Vandruff has been guided and debriefed by her colleague Jared Mayerson ’20, who filled in for her as station manager.
But now Vandruff has taken the reins again, and each passing day leading ESTV has confirmed she wants to pursue a career in TV in the future.
“It’s really on par with what I want to do in the real world,” she said. “I want to be a television producer, so it keeps me focused on my professional goals.”