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BCVoice

The Student News Site of Bridgewater College

BCVoice

The Student News Site of Bridgewater College

BCVoice

Student Athlete Focus: Kennedy Fauntleroy

Alexandra Petri Endowed Lecture Review

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BC students Dakota Barlow and Georgia Grubb laugh during Petri’s trivia pop quiz about President James A. Garfield and Garfield the Cat.

Bridgewater, VA – Washington Post satirist Alexandra Petri visited Bridgewater College to engage with students in two events on Nov. 15, 2023: a small discussion and an Endowed Lecture.

Petri, the youngest columnist in Washington Post history, visited with students and faculty during an intimate discussion jointly hosted by the Endowed Lecture Series and the Department of Communication and Theatre. Dr. Michele Clark, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, moderated the discussion. Topics ranged from Petri’s journey through college, effective writing strategies, and public reactions to her work, especially from her critics.

Petri presented to a group of about 25 people, including around 20 students pursuing a degree in Communication, Technology and Culture. Throughout the session, Petri remained relaxed, engaged, and humorous, providing important advice, although, according to her, she is not a good source of advice because her life is not the norm. Petri graduated from Harvard College in 2010. She then interned at the Washington Post and was offered a column, the youngest person to be given that offer at the Post, which she has written for over a decade.

Despite her misgivings, the advice Petri provided was useful, focusing on three themes: (1) find something that allows you to exist “as yourself and [get] paid for it,” (2) be purposeful in your work ethic (e.g., to not procrastinate on your writing, “procrastinate on something else more important”), and (3) “WRITE!”

Her advice was well-received by students in the audience. Latham Jackson, a junior in the Department of Communication and Theatre who is interested in writing satire, was “not really” familiar with Petri’s work before this session but is “curious now.” “I love the humanity she portrayaled [sic],” he said. Katie Roach, a senior in the Department of Communication and Theatre, identified two key pieces of advice from Petri that had an impact: “done is better than perfect” and “keep writing because the next thing you write will be the best thing.”

From an intimate setting of people sitting in a circle to a lecture hall filled with around 80 people, Petri maintained her conversational communication style. During her half-hour lecture, Petri provided a blend of fact, satire, and AI-generated photographs of robots sitting in an airport working on their laptops to describe her engagement with satire. Petri reviewed her historical documentary on Benjamin Harrison and her books, including “A Field Guide to Awkward Silences.” She also touched on the feedback she’s received by her critics, both public and private, and how to take pride in the work one does, regardless of that feedback. Finally, she engaged in a pop quiz on the trivia of Garfield the Cat, a comic created by Jim Davis, and James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States.

Overall, Alexandra Petri provided an informed perspective on life as a satirical writer for one of the nation’s premier newspapers. She discussed the steps she took to become successful so early in her career, and she identified paths forward for students who are interested in becoming a writer.

You can visit Petri’s website https://www.alexandrapetri.com/ for information on her publications, background and upcoming dates for her book tour.

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About the Contributor
Steve Ingham, Adviser
Dr. Ingham is the adviser for the BC Voice. They graduated with their bachelor's degree from Saginaw Valley State University, master's degree from the University of Cincinnati, and Ph.D. from Wayne State University, all in Communication. They are excited to work with wonderful students to engage with the platform to ensure Bridgewater College is being told the truth through the voice of the students. Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Ingham if you are interested in joining the BC Voice, would like to write an article or story, or have any questions or comments about the work published on this website.