Through her newswriting, English alumna Tarah Jean tells stories that make a difference and gives people in the community a voice

By Aiden Wood

When Tarah Jean was an undergraduate at Florida State University, she learned as much about newswriting and print media as she could, to help her determine what field of writing she wanted for a career.

During her time in college as an English-Editing, Writing, and Media major, Jean was a staff writer for Her Campus FSU, she was an editorial assistant for The Kudzu Review, she wrote and edited for the FSView & Florida Flambeau, and she even explored technical writing for the FSU Research Computing Center.

“Ever since I was little, I would love to write in general,” Jean says. “I would write my own little stories and create my own little books by stapling construction paper together, so I always knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know what field I wanted to go into.”

Her experiences as a child and as a student at FSU have led Jean to the position of higher education reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat, the local newspaper. Her articles cover news and events going on at FSU, Florida A&M University, and Tallahassee Community College.

Jean originally majored in another academic discipline when she began at FSU in Fall 2019, but she soon realized that she wanted to take a different path for her degree. Even though she was conflicted on whether she should change her major, she ultimately changed to English.

“I took the steps to change my major and I’m really glad I did that,” Jean says. “I have no regrets during my time at FSU.”

After joining the FSView & Florida Flambeau as a news staff writer in the summer of 2020, Jean found that spark that encouraged her to pursue a career in journalism. She emphasizes that her time working for the FSView prepared her in many ways for the field in general but that everything was difficult in the beginning.

She now has two years of experience with the Democrat.

“The job is great overall but challenging at the same time because it’s never the same thing,” Jean says. “There’s always something new going on.”

Despite those challenges, Jean has found a flow with her coverage.

“The part I am most passionate about is knowing that my stories are making a difference,” she says, “and that I can give people in the community a voice through the things that I cover.”

In addition to her various writing jobs in college, Jean was an accomplished student.

I took the steps to change my major and I’m really glad I did that. I have no regrets during my time at FSU.

— Tarah Jean

She has minors in education and commercial entrepreneurship, she regularly made the President’s list for her academics, and she was a member of several on-campus organizations, such as Sisters2Service, Minorities in Media, and The Renegade Leadership Honors Society. In May 2021, Jean won the Byrnes Guillaume, Esq. Caribbean Scholarship.

After graduating in Spring 2022 with her bachelor’s degree in English, Jean began pursuing a master’s degree in media and communication studies, which she will earn in August.

Jean chose to take on many responsibilities as an FSU student, in search of the best way to affect her community in a positive way. Her advice to current students follows that example.

“Do not limit yourself while being an undergraduate,” she says. “Explore your horizon and step out of your comfort zone.”

Aiden Wood is a senior majoring in English-Editing, Writing, and Media with a minor in education.

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