Sitting in the Church lobby of the Catholic Church in Bethel, Alaska, Madeline Zukowski is dressed in a yellow quarter zip, rolled blue jeans, and matching blue hiking shoes. She settles into a swiveling desk chair that has a ripped cushion and squeaks rather alarmingly as it turns. I take a seat next to her in an equally suspicious folding chair, and as the light streams in a window from behind a hanging crucifix, i flip out my standard issue notepad and hit the record button on my iPad– ready to fire away and find out everything I can about her.
Madeline is one of those people who is approximately three parts shyness and one part sass. She has intelligent eyes and the corners of her mouth are quick to turn up in an eye-crinkling smile. Legs crossed and fingers interlaced, the first piece of information that I get from her is about her major. Madeline is a news and PR double major. When I asked her how she became interested in journalism, I knew I had struck gold. Madeline proceeded to describe a day in seventh grade:
“ It was rainy, and a Saturday, and I was really bored.”
Her hands became animated as she went back in her memory to pulling out an American Girl magazine.
“It had a list of ten things to do when you’re bored and one of them was to make your own magazine/newspaper.”
Fixated on that idea, she threw together a five page magazine of her own and gave it to some of her sister’s friends. It was a hit. The only hitch was that she had used all of the printer ink in the printing. The savvy 12-year-old that she was, Madeline began to sell the magazines for 25 cents a piece in order to pay back her dad for the ink and continue to print future issues of what she had dubbed “Kids Klub.”
As the questions continued, the picture began to come together of who exactly Madeline Zukowski was. This quiet and determined figure knew what she wanted and went after it.
“I have always been a very quiet person, so for me to go up to someone I don’t know and say, ‘Can I interview you?’ and then proceed to interview them, has been a challenge.”
However, she does not let that challenge stop her. Madeline has always loved the idea of working at the New York Times. She knows that getting a job as a writer for a newspaper or online publication will be hard, but she has ambitions that would see her working as a well-known writer at a well-known publication in the future. She has continued to hone her interviewing skills, and to learn as much as she can about multi-media, video, PR, and news. This woman, with her blonde hair and open smile, may not seem intimidating, but I would argue that she is a force to be reckoned with.