Journalism major awaits championship opportunity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For Carter Walker, the combination of concern for his community and a love of writing led to one major and career path at Penn State: journalism.

Walker will graduate in August, capping an undergraduate career in which he capably combined classroom experience and hands-on preparation for his career. He worked as a features reporter and news editor for The Daily Collegian and served as an intern and a freelance reporter for The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

“It was an excellent education and excellent preparation,” said Walker. “The Daily Collegian was the real deal, putting out a paper every day, and Russ Eshleman was a fantastic editor and educator. He and my other faculty members really care and know what they’re doing.”

Walker, from Malvern, is not done representing Penn State as a student journalist, though. 

With a pair of top-three finishes in monthly competitions conducted as part of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s Journalism Awards Program — often referred to as “the Pulitzers of college journalism” — Walker earned a trip to the Hearst National Writing Championship, which will be contested May 29-June 2 in San Francisco.

Walker finished third in an enterprise-writing contest earlier this year and found out about his second-place finish in the breaking news category this week. He’s one of just eight student writers from across the nation who will compete for the individual national championship.

He’s the 18th Penn State student to advance to the championships since 2007. Penn State has crowned three individual champions during that span.

At the championship session in San Francisco, Walker and the other competitors will be challenged to cover a news conference, write a feature story and write about a timely, spot news topic.

“It’s exciting and I’m doing my best to prepare,” Walker said. “In the past it’s been a mayor or politician for the interview, so I’m trying to get ready for the possibilities of who it could be. Then, just in general, I’ve been reading my old stories as well as the winning stories from previous years — just to see what the people who won did well.”

Walker has reached out to some of the previous Penn State competitors for advice. Anna Orso of BillyPenn.com advanced to the individual championships in 2012 and 2014, winning the national championship in 2014. Erin McCarthy, who graduated in May, finished third at the individual championships last year. “They’ve had good tips and every little bit helps,” Walker said.

Walker has been to San Francisco before, but that was when he was in fifth grade. This is a working trip, and he’s ready to work. He aspires to work as an investigative reporter.

First, though, he hopes to perform well and make his family proud with his work in San Francisco.

Walker has three siblings. His oldest sister, Brittany, graduated from Penn State in 2016 and his younger sister, Lilia, is a sophomore at Penn State Brandywine. His brother, Dylan, is a sixth grader. His parents are Marilyn and Bruce, and his stepmother is Svetlana.

Last Updated May 19, 2017