Aimee (on right) and Carrie Moniot (photo by Sarah Smith '11)
Less than a year ago, Aimee Morgan ’11 was studying journalism at Robert Morris University. Now she’s writing stories that are being read by thousands of people all around the world.
“The fact that I can pitch an idea, and then, the next day, see that idea published on an international website is incredible,” says Aimee, who’s working as a staff writer and customer service specialist for AccuWeather in State College, Pa. “One of my stories had over 16,000 views in a few days; another had 7,000 within the first few hours. It is an incredible feeling.”
Aimee, who grew up in Mechanicsburg, graduated with a degree in journalism from RMU last May. “RMU gave me the chance to jump right into journalism the moment I got there,” she says.
During her first semester, Aimee was the host of “RMU-Tonight”; she helped produce the show during her second semester. She also worked on “RMU-Live”, the university’s news program, as an anchor and producer. In addition, she wrote for the school newspaper, The Sentry, working as a features editor.
During her time at RMU, Aimee interned with Steel City Media, the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors, and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, and was a member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists and the undergraduate student honor society of the National Communication Association. She also played Ann Putnam in the Colonial Theatre production of “The Crucible”, and travelled to Ireland and Paris as part of RMU’s Study Abroad program.
Aimee has always had an interest in writing, thanks to her mother, who earned a master’s degree in mass communications. “I guess the old saying ‘like mother, like daughter’ rings true in my case,” she says.
In high school Aimee developed her writing skills while working for the school newspaper. After watching the 1992 Disney film “Newsies” during her Journalism I class, she knew what she wanted to do with her career. “One of the best things about journalism is being able to share people’s stories with the world. It’s a powerful thing. I want to share the stories that may otherwise go unnoticed.”
While she was still an undergrad, Aimee’s media management professor, Carrie Moniot, told her about an opportunity at AccuWeather. Due to her work experience, Moniot knew a key point of contact at the weather forecasting organization, and it ended up helping Aimee during the interview process. “Carrie and I had discussed where I wanted to go with my career and what my plans were,” says Aimee. “I had told her that I was no longer interested in being a broadcast journalist, but more of an online journalist, producing content for a major magazine or website, because that is where journalism seems to be heading. Producing cross-platform packages was my newfound love.”
RMU’s professors provided the personal attention that Aimee needed to find a good job in her field. But Morgan will tell you that it was something that happened during her senior year at RMU that truly changed her life.
At the time she had a lot of bills to pay, could barely afford to eat, and couldn’t afford to pay for her books. Then her car broke down, and she didn’t have enough money to fix it. On top of all that, her mother was laid off and her father was on disability. Morgan says she has always been a positive person, but she was at her breaking point. She considered leaving school. “I could feel myself getting hopeless,” she says. “I literally had nowhere to go for assistance.”
That was until Tara Monahan, her financial aid officer, told her about RMU’s Student Emergency Fund, which helps provide money to needy students. Aimee wrote to John Michalenko, vice president for student life, and explained her situation. “He helped me with open arms,” she says. “The program paid for the work on my car, for my books, and even provided me with one of the best meal plans available. I can’t thank RMU and President Dell’Omo enough for what they did for me.”
Today Aimee stays connected with RMU through a mentoring relationship she built with her journalism professor and head of the Department of Communications, Andrea Frantz, Ph.D. “I’m lucky to call her both a mentor and a friend,” says Aimee.
In 2010, Frantz recruited students to participate in Heinz Endowment’s Student Journalism Competition, and she selected Aimee for RMU’s team. “We all benefited from her intelligence, experience, and faith to go outside of our comfort zone,” says Aimee. RMU’s team ended up winning the competition, and Aimee says it was Frantz’s tough-love approach that really made the difference. “She was hard on us,” she says. “In fact, she tore our first draft of our news story apart. She wanted us to focus on the human-interest element of the story.”
Today Aimee says that her favorite aspect of journalism is the human-interest element to every story she writes. In the near future, she hopes to become a fulltime online journalist at AccuWeather. Her dream job, however, would be writing for O, The Oprah Magazine. “I love human-interest, feature-length stories,” she says, “and Dr. Frantz has a lot to do with that. She is the human-interest to my life at RMU. She is my story.”
Written by Valentine J. Brkich
Please consider helping other deserving students like Aimee by donating to RMU’s Student Emergency Fund.