Discover the enriching journey of TFAS alumna Jacquelyn Burrer ’23, a journalism and history major from Texas State University who unfolded a world of opportunities during her transformative summer in Washington, D.C. As a standout intern at The Well News, Jaquelyn delved into the heart of legal journalism, covering groundbreaking Supreme Court rulings and gaining hands-on experience that would shape her career path. Living in the historic city, she found solace in exploring the monuments at night, fostering lifelong friendships and embracing a professional growth spurt.
🎓 University: Texas State University
📚 Major: Journalism and History
📍 Hometown: Carrollton, TX
🧭 Program Track: Journalism + Communications
💼 Internship: The Well News
What was the most interesting thing you did at your internship?
📰 Breaking News
For my internship, I worked as a journalism intern with a local paper in D.C., The Well News. During my time there, I covered legal news, mainly covering rulings from the Supreme Court. I was able to do on-the-ground coverage for rulings and was lucky enough to go inside the court to hear some of the rulings in June! Having this opportunity was very special and helped show me more specialized sections of journalism that I would want to pursue, and it significantly influenced my future career by showing me the value of legal journalism.
⚖️ Monumental Impact
Additionally, covering the Supreme Court and legal news in general helped show me the importance of these fields and how their decisions impact our everyday lives. At Texas State, I am pursuing a dual degree in history and journalism, so it was incredible to watch history play out before me at the Supreme Court, which is why that was truly the highlight of my internship to be a 20-year-old intern covering the Supreme Court. Going forward, this experience showed me how many opportunities there are in my career and that I could always discover another field that interests me later in life. I often try to nail down exactly what I want to do very early on, but this experience truly showed me how fluid my career can be and all of the different paths I can explore, starting with legal journalism.
What did you like most about living in Washington, D.C.?
🏛️ History Made Here
My favorite part about living in D.C. was being surrounded by living history. In addition to pursuing journalism, I am also pursuing a second degree in history, so it was extremely exciting to live in a city filled with so much history. In particular, my favorite thing to do was to visit the monuments at night, which is an experience I highly recommend to everyone in D.C. During my time in D.C.,
New City, New Friends
I also made many lifelong friendships, particularly with the girls that I shared my suite with in the dorms. I never imagined I would make such amazing friends in such a short period, but I will forever treasure the memories I made with my friends in D.C. I can vividly remember TFAS staff telling us at the beginning of the program that we could find people who will be lifelong friends that we will invite to our weddings one day, which I laughed off initially, and now I have a bunch of new lifelong (and long-distance) friends to be a part of my life going forward. One of my favorite memories with my friends in D.C. was when we went to the monuments one last time at night about two days before we left the program, and it was beautifully bittersweet to just take in the city one last time with amazing friends.
How did you grow professionally during your time in Washington, D.C.?
🤝 Never Stop Networking
I feel that I grew tremendously during my time in D.C., both professionally and personally. In particular, I feel like I gained a significant amount of real-world experience, specifically through the opportunities given to me by the newspaper I worked for as well as through TFAS. After being in D.C. for an extended period, I felt like I just would flip a switch and go into networking or professional mode because I constantly had to do it everywhere I went. I was able to learn a lot about my field, mostly through experience but also just through reaching out to people and seeing if they were willing to connect. A professor of mine at Texas State University told me a few years ago to always ask people for coffee because chances are they will typically say yes, but there’s really no harm done in asking. If they say yes, you get to hear about someone’s experience and career in your field and possibly make a new connection, and if they say no, you’ll just try again tomorrow.
💎 Paying it Forward
Especially working in news, there is an extremely present culture of giving back to the new generation and actively helping to ensure those entering the field succeed. My bosses at The Well News, Christina Paulos and Dan McCue, were both incredibly supportive and truly wanted me to succeed. They constantly allowed me to gain experience or to cover a really interesting event, and they chose to do that because they truly just wanted what was best for me. From giving me advice on how to format my resume to supporting me as I covered an event at the White House, Christina and Dan were there for me every step of the way. Overall, D.C. allowed me to put my foot in the door, which I’ll be forever grateful for.
What was your favorite TFAS event?
My favorite TFAS event was actually the first event we had when we went on the Guided Tour of the Monuments + Memorials! I met a ton of my friends that day, and it was a really comforting way to get exposed to the city without exploring alone. I felt really connected to the city right off the bat because of that tour, which was something I appreciated going forward. As a history major, I was also just extremely excited to see and hear about the history of the country and of the city in person rather than via a textbook in class.
What advice do you have for future TFAS students?
✅ Say Yes to Opportunities
Do your best to yes as often as you can, whether it’s hanging out with new friends or going to an extra event for work because more than you can imagine can come from simply saying yes. However, it’s still always okay to take a step back and give yourself a break. It’s an extremely busy summer, and D.C. is a city that’s constantly alive, so if you miss one opportunity, another will come along.
👟 Step it Up
Additionally, advocate for yourself, and ask if you can do things! The main reason I was able to cover the Supreme Court was because I asked if covering the legal beat would be possible, and my editor, Dan McCue, said yes, which shocked me beyond belief. Lastly, I would say to take advantage of the time you have in D.C.! It’s truly an experience that you’ll likely only have once before entering your full-blown career, so try to live in the moment, and try new things! Overall, my advice would be to do your best to say yes and to do as much as you can while you’re there, but always give yourself grace if you need a break.