Today we’d like to introduce you to a woman who has gone from UA Little Rock student to president of the organization for professional journalists in the state in just six short years!
Sarah DeClerk, a Little Rock resident and Jacksonville native, graduated in December 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with an emphasis in print journalism and a minor in sociology. Sarah now works in the promotions department of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. There she performs a variety of duties, including writing features and profiles, helping with page design, taking photos, and helping with copy editing.
“Our department produces about 100 niche publications, inserts and other projects each year,” Sarah said. “I take a leadership role by coordinating several projects, including Real Weddings in Arkansas magazine, Downtown Little Rock magazine and What Women Want, an advertising supplement to the Three Rivers Edition.”
Sarah also recently became president of the Arkansas Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
“I lead board meetings, submit annual reports to the national organization, and write letters on the chapter’s behalf about policies affecting journalism in Arkansas,” she said. “I also serve as co-chair of the contest committee, which organizes our annual journalism awards, and as chair of the programs committee, which organizes monthly journalism events.”
While in school, Sarah served as features editor of the Forum for both semesters of 2013.
What’s the most important thing you took away from your studies at UA Little Rock?
“Everyone has a story (or several), and hearing those stories can help you appreciate your own story and the human experience overall.”
Who was a faculty member who made a strong impact on you and your career path?
“Every instructor at the School of Mass Communication made an impact on my life. I’m grateful to them for kindling my passion for journalism, teaching me the tools of the trade and sharing experiences from their careers. I’m glad that I’ve been able to see some former instructors through SPJ activities.”
What is your favorite memory from your time at UA Little Rock?
“One of the greatest memories I have from the Forum is the huge “snowball fight” we had with old newspapers.”
What advice would you give to current students?
“It’s OK not to know what you want to be when you grow up. I was well into college when I picked journalism as my major, and I chose it because it allowed me to focus on writing while exploring a wide variety of interests. No one really knows where their path will lead, so keep your eyes, mind and heart open.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
“I wouldn’t have graduated without my family, friends and mentors. I’m especially grateful for my mother, Leonie DeClerk, and my husband, Tea Jackson.”