Senior communication studies major Kirsten Peters has added a few titles to her resume since entering Wilkes in 2017. The first was “intern” to the Colonels’ baseball team, a job that included taking pictures and maintaining the team’s social media accounts. Later, she added sports writer and co-sports editor of The Beacon, the campus newspaper, as well as sports anchor and sports director of Wilkes’ weekly television show, Wilkes Now! Along the way, she also became known as “the Cookie Girl,” who brought her trademark oatmeal scotchies to sporting events and social gatherings.
Peters doesn’t actually list “Cookie Girl” on her resume, but she definitely includes it as a favorite memory at Wilkes. It reveals the fact that she’s found time for fun while gaining solid experience via the many co-curricular activities Wilkes offers. The myriad titles reflect three years of hard work that have led Peters to assume top leadership roles in her final year at the University. She is editor-in-chief of The Beacon, Wilkes’ student-run newspaper, and communications scholar at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
Wilkes proved the right choice for Peters out of 13 colleges that the Shohola, Pa., resident was accepted into as a senior at Delaware Valley High School. She became interested in studying journalism after working on her high school’s newspaper, Del.Aware. She had already had an introduction to Wilkes after attending the annual Tom Bigler Journalism Conference. Sponsored by the Communication Studies Department, the conference brings high school students to campus for a day of workshops. Peters’ acceptance to Wilkes also included admission to the Honors Program, which aided her decision to attend the University. She cites the small campus and the great facilities at the Karambelas Media and Communications Center for helping to seal the deal.
In the classroom, she’s welcomed the academic challenges provided by her honors classes and has maintained a 4.0 average in her major while completing two minors in sports management and creative writing. Peters notes that she’s had several mentors among Wilkes faculty, but pinpoints two communication studies professors – Mia Briceño and Evene Estwick – for playing significant roles in her academic experience.
Outside of her achievements in the classroom, Peters started working on The Beacon in her first semester – a natural choice because she’s always loved writing. “I’ve always been in awe of words and the emotion they can invoke by stringing them together. For some individuals, a writing assignment is torture, but for me, sitting behind a keyboard or putting pen to paper is a comfortable place to land,” Peters says. That comfort zone was in the sports section, where she combined her affinity for sports with writing. Now, she’s embraced the role of editor-in-chief and looks forward to a new challenge.
“One of the most fascinating parts for me as editor-in-chief is that I get to touch every aspect of the paper before it’s sent to print. I get to read and copyedit each article; I get to check every headline and photo; I get to make adjustments to any page layout or design – I truly get to live and breathe the paper,” she says. “In a world where everything is digital and can be found on a screen, there’s something so rewarding about publishing a hard-copy edition and seeing your name in the byline. It’s as if a piece of history is engrained there, and no one can take that from you.”
The paper truly became a piece of history last spring as its staff continued to cover campus news after the University moved to remote classes due to the pandemic. “I personally covered a number of articles during our period physically away from campus, including the announcement that Wilkes was moving to remote learning, a piece on decoding the coronavirus, the postponement of the Class of 2020’s commencement ceremony, and the cancellation of spring sports,” Peters says. She and her staff have continued writing through the summer and in late July wrapped up a summer edition that is mailed to students before fall classes begin.
As a scholar of communication at the Allan P. Kirby Center, she works with fellow scholar Sara Ross to promote the center on social media platforms and create its newsletters. Peters also consults with the center’s clients by creating or improving their social media presence, developing a website or brainstorming promotions. “Ultimately, my role as a communications scholar can be summed up into one main idea – reach. Whether I’m working on a project for the center or assisting a client, the focus is always on how we can get this initiative to reach the target market, spark an interest, and leave an impact.”
When it comes to deciding what impact she would like to have after graduating from Wilkes, Peters says she’s open to many possibilities.
“That’s the million-dollar question that I don’t have the million-dollar answer for,” she says. “I’m envious of all those who have known what they’ve wanted to do since childhood and have been on the direct path to do so. I chose communications because of the many different avenues I could pursue. I didn’t want to make the wrong decision and pigeonhole myself into one career path. I have a lot of interests – sports journalism, photography, fashion, real estate, etc. – and no matter where I end up, I know that I’ll be successful.”