Tessa is an alum of the Rho Chapter at Western Kentucky University (2010-2013). She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and loves sharing her passion with the world every day as an investigative reporter. Tessa is an advocate for human rights and works diligently to make change happen in her community. 

Check out our Q & A to learn more about Tessa!

*Disclaimer: These responses are paraphrased and depict participant responses from an interview.

Q: What inspired you to join OPA?

A: I really wanted something that would make college feel different since I’m from Bowling Green which is where my college was. I was looking for ways to be active and involved on campus. I was in some academic organizations already but wanted to be part of something more social as well. I had known a girl from my high school who had joined OPA so I found out about all the cool things they were doing and I had gotten a good impression of them based on what I had heard. I just knew that OPA was a place I could fit in and decided to just go for it after the first night of rush.

Q: Did you hold any offices during your time as an active? 

A: Yes, I believe I was our communications director and I was the one who actually started our social media accounts for the Rho Chapter.

Q: What is one of your favorite memories as an active sister?

A: I think one of my very favorite memories was participating in the St. Baldricks fundraiser for cancer research. We partnered with the baseball team and got people to either donate or shave off their hair for wigs. I remember cutting off about a foot of hair! It was such a cool experience with so many people involved that shined a light on such an important cause. Another memory is when I served on the homecoming court for our OPA chapter during my senior year and even though I didn’t win it was a really cool experience. I was proud to represent OPA and my fellow sisters, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m really appreciative of it to this day.

Q: Tell me about your current job. 

A: I’m currently an investigative reporter for the Courier Journal which is the main newspaper in Kentucky and I’ve been there for about 3 years. I’ve bounced around from covering education, juvenile justice, homelessness, COVID, and most recently the Breonna Taylor case. I mostly write stories for the paper but I also participated in a documentary for ABC 2020 where I got to go on national television to discuss that case. 

Q: How did you choose your career path? 

A: I’m just one of those unusual people who has always known what she’s wanted to do, literally from like first grade. I’ve always been interested in writing and a bit skeptical and inquisitive just in general. I realized growing up that those skills would work well with journalism so I knew early on that’s what I wanted to do. I worked at the student newspaper in college so I did a variety of tasks there in addition to several internships. I just wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could get.

Q: What obstacles do you face in your career?

A: You know it’s definitely a challenging industry for many reasons. The news industry has gone through a lot of changes recently from print to online and the use of social media causing issues with trust since there can be so much fake news out there. With that said, it’s an industry that I feel is still really important because we need to hold public officials accountable and that’s always the mission of news.

Q: What is your favorite part about your job/career?

A: Oh man there’s so much! I do a lot of serious reporting about heavy topics, but when we can report on things that really impact people and create change from within so people can be held accountable that’s what matters and that’s what makes me proud to do what I do. I love to do stories about everyday people that aren’t typically in the newspaper as well. I love playing even a small role in people’s lives and showing that there is still good in the world.

Q: How has your experience in OPA influenced your life and/or career?

A: You know it’s where I met some of my best friends to this day. It’s the women who are consistent in my life and support me no matter what. That support system is everything and I can always count on them even when I’m far away. Also, being in OPA taught me the importance of being plugged into the community. It’s all about giving back to others wherever you are. It’s about being part of something bigger than yourself which is how it relates to my career as a journalist. I actively work at contributing to my community every day as a result of being in OPA, so I’ll always appreciate that. 

Q: What’s one accomplishment you’re particularly proud of?

A: In regard to the Breonna Taylor case, I’m proud of how we as a newspaper have held the police accountable. Unfortunately, there was so much misinformation or lack of information in that case so I’m proud of how we pushed to get accurate information to share with the public. Furthermore, I’m also proud of the fact that I’m doing what I love to do and I get to make a difference every day. My job is really about making an impact and serving the community so I’m very proud of that.

Q: What advice can you offer to your fellow sisters?

A: I would say for those still in college to make the most of every opportunity you get during your college experience. There’s nothing like college so it’s important to take advantage of a more low-stakes environment. Little things like putting yourself out there can really make a big difference in your life. 

Q: Tell me about your personal life. Family, pets, hobbies, interests? 

A: I have a dog named Bubbie. I actually was fostering him and just fell in love and ended up adopting him. I love going on walks/hikes with my dog and working in my garden. I also enjoy mystery shows and movies so that’s been my go-to activity at the moment.