Kyra O’Connor ’23 named to SPJ’s inaugural student advisory council

The journalism major will serve as a member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Student Trustee Council, a group of students from across the country working to strengthen the organization.

Sophomore Kyra O’Connor initially heard about the Society of Professional Journalists at a Journalism Education Association conference during high school. The mission of the organization, to support working journalists, resonated with O’Connor, and she knew she wanted to one day contribute.

Kyra O’Connor ’23

As part of the inaugural Student Trustee Council, O’Connor will do just that. Along with eight other members from across the country, the STC will provide feedback, insights and recommendations on improving the SPJ campus chapter and general student experience. They are ambassadors for the society and will help promote SPJ information and leadership development opportunities to their peers.

“Students have been core to our organization since our founding and the STC will be like giving the student voice a megaphone,” said John Shertzer, SPJ executive director, in a written release. “These young leaders will provide perspectives and insights that only they can, and that are extremely valuable for the future of SPJ and journalism in general.”

O’Connor serves as the secretary-treasurer for Elon University’s SPJ chapter, which she said is one of her favorite organizations on campus. In her role, she helps coordinate meetings, like the upcoming panel on supporting the mental health of journalists that the chapter will host in April.

“I have had such fantastic experiences through SPJ, from meeting other journalists across campus and the country to simply honing my skills as a reporter,” O’Connor said. “I’m honored to support SPJ student members in this new role, and to work with such great student journalists.”

Overall, the STC exists to ensure that SPJ does all that it can to remain a significant and meaningful home for student journalists and is built intentionally to represent the rich diversity in the college journalism community. SPJ was founded by 10 students at DePauw University in 1909 and this initiative moves the organization forward while remembering its roots.

Lecturer Kelly Furnas, who advises Elon’s SPJ chapter and Elon News Network, Elon’s student-run news network, helped O’Connor with her application, and she credits Furnas’ mentorship with her ability to serve in this position. Furnas said O’Connor’s participation on the STC is a “win-win” for Elon and SPJ.

“As part of this national cohort, she will be able to glean best practices from chapters all across the country to bring back to Elon and benefit the entire campus community,” Furnas said. “And SPJ is getting a tireless advocate who will champion the organization’s efforts to further support young journalists.”

Members of the Student Trustee Council include student journalists studying at Colorado State University, Columbia University, Georgetown University, Community College of Denver, High Point University, Southwestern College, the University of Florida and the University of Oklahoma.