Creating Community for Campus Journalists
Athena x Barnard Bulletin
Part of changemaking is developing those half-baked ideas — ideas that seem too uncertain, unwieldy, or even unachievable upon first thought. That’s what Athena’s for; students can come in with a vision and nothing else, and together, we’ll figure it out.
This is the case for Sunaya Mueller ‘26. Sunaya arrived on campus last year with her sights set on joining a journalistic publication, only to find that Barnard’s newspaper, The Barnard Bulletin, became defunct during the pandemic. She wanted to be a part of a community of aspiring journalists, especially women journalists, and create a comfortable environment where everyone is excited to learn and grow. Could Sunaya resurrect the Bulletin? It seemed daunting—she would need to recruit and train new members and build a website, all informed by her vision for a new era of journalism at Barnard.
So Sunaya came to Athena.
In collaboration with Center Director Umbreen Bhatti, they created a game plan to bring the Bulletin back to Barnard. Sunaya would provide the participants, and Athena would provide the resources. Umbreen connected Sunaya with Julianna Goldman ‘03, a longtime reporter for Bloomberg and former White House Correspondent during the Obama administration, who agreed to share her expertise and help train the new cohort. They met every Monday for five weeks – the students, together in a conference room provided by the BCRW, while Julianna joined remotely from her home in Washington DC.
“It was a really cool experience,” Sunaya reflects. “Especially from a Barnard alumna, hearing her experience and how it could be possible for young women like us to do something similar.”
Throughout the five sessions, participants learned:
- How to email someone professionally for an interview request
- How to ask the right questions and follow-ups in an interview
- The basics of writing an article, such as how to write a lead and a nut graf
- How to work with an editor
But the most helpful thing? “The live editing sessions,” Sunaya explains. Julianna loaded a current draft of a Bulletin article up on the room’s big screen and edited it live, transforming the article from the first draft to the final draft. “She would switch around the article in different places. Talking about ‘Oh, you need the lede here, and a quote there,’ how to write in the present tense, and which adjectives to use. Those skills are priceless.”
Another highlight was the introduction of a member of Julianna’s network: Maria Gavrilovic, a producer for CBS’ 60 Minutes. “We had an open Q&A session where we could ask her anything, including advice about jobs and the future.” Bulletin staff learned about the technical aspects of Maria’s job, but also more personal details, such as Maria’s experiences as a woman working in broadcast TV, TV news, and print news – a source of relatability and inspiration for the Bulletin's emerging journalists.
Upon the sessions’ conclusion, Sunaya is taking away two main assurances: first, that she’s certain that Bulletin staff can enter professional journalism with a sense of confidence, and second, that this experience created a supportive community that she can turn to upon the next new idea—about journalism and beyond. For Sunaya, journalism is the way she makes change; she elevates stories that would otherwise go untold, starting right on Barnard’s campus with the Barnard Bulletin.
Athena empowers students to create change in their communities wherever they are in the process. Sometimes, this means connecting a student to the Athena network, providing them with resources, or merely serving as a partner in which they can brainstorm ideas. This time, it meant all three.
Do you have an idea but need more knowledge or resources to bring it to reality? Sunaya offers a piece of wisdom: “Never be afraid to ask for help.”