Allie Hulcher, senior double majoring in both English and Journalism, speaks about her experience as a student at The University of Alabama and what she plans to take into her career. In addition to graduating with two separate degrees, she has been involved in many extracurricular internships and volunteer associations. Allie speaks about how English and the department have complimented her Journalism major and prepared her for her soon-to-be career as a journalist.
As a little background where are you from, and why did you choose to come to The University of Alabama?
I’m from Huntsville, Alabama. Originally, my family is from Virginia. We moved to Huntsville because my dad worked for NASA. I always wanted to go out of state, but I looked at Alabama and saw they had a really good Journalism program, and they offered me a really good scholarship.
With that said, did you always plan on double majoring in English and Journalism since high school?
I have always planned on double majoring because English was something I always knew I wanted to study further, but Journalism is what I want to do for a career—what I actually wanted to do with my life so I always wanted to study both.
Did you have anyone in high school or college that influenced you?
Yes. I had a librarian in high school whom I considered a mentor even though she didn’t teach me in the classroom. The library was kind of our high school’s safe haven. So every morning when I would get to school, a few other people and I would hang out at the library. That’s how I got to know her. She just did a really good job going above and beyond and she always encouraged me with whatever I did.
Are you close with any staff in the Department of English or even the Journalism Department? Do you have a mentor now?
In terms of journalism, Dr. Greer. She has been on this journey with me before I even started classes. The summer before I came here, she told me what the journalism path would look like. I have kind of made her my advisor even though she isn’t technically mine, but I go in there every semester and say, “Hey, plan my life.” In the Department of English, I have had so many great teachers so I can’t really pick just one off the top of my head.
With the Department of English, as mentioned, what courses did you focus or concentrate on?
That’s a good question. I’m a Senior now so I have taken a lot. I have just dabbled in a lot of courses. I would say that in high school, I was more pro-British Lit, but of the classes I have taken here I have fallen in love with American Lit. In high school, I was into lengthy British novels, whereas now, I am more interested into American Novels. I think that is because of journalism as well. American authors like Hemingway and Orwell are able to cut to the quick. They say a lot with fewer words.
I can tell you some of my favorite classes here that I’ve taken. Last semester I took Harlem Renaissance with Trudier Harris. We just looked at Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston—just those two authors for the entire semester. It was really fun. Serena Blount was my first English teacher. She taught me Early American Lit. She made the Puritans fascinating, which is hard to do. I have taken a few creative writing classes up into the 400-level; I almost minored in it but chose not to have one at all.
Since you are graduating very soon, what do you plan on doing after Alabama?
I plan on trying to find a job in Journalism—related to my major. It seems like people are lucky if they get anything related to what they study. I ultimately just want to be in Journalism and write—write about topics I’m interested in.
Is there any specific city where you would like to live?
I am actually not really bound by location. I could end up anywhere. I’m looking everywhere just for Journalism jobs.
Are you involved in any clubs or societies, or do you volunteer?
I’ve done a lot in my college years. I’ve done The Crimson White. I’ve written for various other publications. I was involved in Bible studies, the Mallet Assembly, Dinner with Strangers, and Al’s Pals.
Wow, you’ve been busy for four years.
Actually, I found out early this semester that I’m getting two degrees. I don’t know how that worked out. I guess in my free time I was taking English classes that went towards my major instead of electives. In some way, they all counted towards both majors so that was great. Also, I came in with a lot of credits from AP courses and Dual Enrollment in high school.
Would you say English is your hobby? When you graduate, will you continue reading and writing?
Absolutely, reading for pleasure is something that I feel has taken the backseat in college. Journalism is so involved, not that English isn’t. In Journalism, there is always a new story to write, but English is always something I have loved and pursued on my own. English is something I just can’t wait to enjoy when I am out of college. I am really excited to graduate and work solely on journalism and my job but also I can’t wait to have more time to read for pleasure.
Did you do any big pieces you are proud of in The Crimson White?
There were a lot. When I first started there, I was proposing ideas so that’s how I became a staff member because I was constantly proposing. That is what I like about The Crimson White: it is that they let me take on stories on my own. There was one story freshman year. It was a piece on Rose Towers and I lived there that year. It was about how the university were turning it into an all freshman dorm, so I wrote a piece about how all these students were getting kicked out of the dorm for that reason. I was really proud of that piece.
Do you have any big internships that you have participated in that you are proud of?
Yes, I have done the Tuscaloosa News Internship, which a lot of journalism students take that route. I had an internship at a weekly newspaper during one summer in Madison, Alabama. I also took a course here called Alpine Living. It’s an international journalism course. In that class, we went to Spain for two weeks and put together a travel magazine. That was probably one of the top experiences I have had in college. We went to Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. That semester was rough. It was like a full time job just working on that magazine, but I am so proud of what we all did. It’s really impressive showing someone that this was a student magazine. We compiled all these pictures and interviews in only two weeks.
How do you think being an English Major has benefited you as a college student with your heavy course load?
I think English has been extremely beneficial to me. Coupled with journalism, it has taught me how to be a good storyteller and to remember that there are different ways to examine everything. Being an English major has made me a well-rounded graduate because I have been able to learn about history, different cultures, issues of gender, race, and religion and so much more through the medium of literature.
Are there any other fun facts about yourself?
Something I like doing is helping kids. I do Al’s Pals mentoring here in Tuscaloosa with children. This semester, I became a Girl Scout Volunteer going into schools and helping.
I’m also really into photography. I took a photography class and learned how to use a camera so now I’m really interested in that. I have a side business going on; you should check it out—it’s Allie Hulcher Photography on Facebook.
I have one final statement: I’m glad that I did English along with Journalism. They go together really well because at their heart they’re both based on a story and storytelling. I think the best journalists are the ones that can record the facts and truth but can tell people stories and show people’s humanity. That’s how English has taught me—it taught me how to be a good storyteller —and Journalism has taught me to be write good leads and interview well. English and Creative Writing have taught me how to find my own voice as a writer and stay in touch with myself creatively.
To get the story, people don’t realize that journalists have to go to extremes and live people’s lives with them. I don’t really know where I want to take my journalism path. I just like telling people’s stories and making people aware of events and things that they hadn’t known before—things the community should know. I do love traveling so who knows? Oh, I also participated in the study abroad program on campus going over to Oxford and learning faculty-led classes in that setting. It was the best thing ever. So I would say for college, Spain and England were my two highlights.