Religious Studies Alum Interns at NPR

Colleen Leahy, a 2014 honors graduate, landed an internship at NPR immediately after graduation. We asked her about her experience working for National Public Radio.

“I’ve been at NPR for almost 3 months now! It has truly been a wonderful experience, and I plan on hiding under my desk in order to ensure that I don’t have to leave.

Aside from the daily privilege of learning from and contributing to NPR and “Here & Now,” my favorite part about being at NPR is the people. They are fiercely intelligent and are some of the best at what they do. But they’re also kind, and at times they’re gorgeously nerdy. My day is often brightened by the Europe editor, who sits near me and enjoys giving occasional British-English lessons. Some of the useful phrases I’ve learned from him include “crumbs!” and “a surfeit of lampreys”, the latter of which he helpfully informed me is roughly analogous to a box of frogs. (I remained flummoxed after that explanation.)

Unlike a lot of interns who come to NPR with majors in communications or journalism, all of my journalistic experience in college was outside the classroom. My academic focuses were in the humanities – French, creative writing, and, of course, religious studies. photo of alum Colleen LeahyMy religious studies background came into play pretty much as soon as I came to NPR – within the first few weeks of my internship, I pitched and produced a piece about the way western politicians often talk about Islamic terrorist organizations like ISIS (you can listen to it here). My religious studies training has contributed enormously to who I am as a writer and researcher, not to mention the way I think about the world and approach problems. It undoubtedly shapes the way I go about journalistic pursuits, and I will always be grateful for that.”

Her supervisor at NPR, Chuck Holmes writes, “Among the things that attracted us to Colleen’s application was her religion major. It sets her apart from many applicants and indicates a certain potential for intellectual curiosity and breadth of interests. And you’ll be gratified to hear that she talks about it with great enthusiasm.”

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