When she first arrived at CU Boulder from her nearby hometown of Littleton, Tayler Shaw was deeply shy. She overcame that fear by taking journalism classes, which forced her to talk to strangers and showed her the beauty in sharing their stories.
Now a senior, Shaw is well known as a student leader in the college. She’s a lead CMCI Student Ambassador; a former intern and continuing contributor for CMCI Now magazine, and one of the founders of CMCI’s newest student media outlet, The Bold, where she serves as editor-in-chief of The Bold Magazine.
This month, Shaw will earn majors in both Journalism and Spanish for the Professions, along with minors in Leadership Studies and Anthropology. She’ll do so with the distinction of being the Department of Journalism’s William W. White Outstanding Senior––an award given to students in each department based on a combination of academic merit, professional achievement and service to the college.
We caught up with her to learn more about the opportunities that shaped her college experience and how she’s combining her passions for journalism and Spanish to give a voice to those who are traditionally underheard.
What led you to choose your major(s)? Is there anything you learned throughout the major that surprised you or that you didn’t expect?
During my senior year of high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. All I knew was that I loved to write. I began to Google search “careers in writing” and stumbled upon a YouTube video about journalism and the increasing need for good journalism in a time of misinformation and political division. Because journalism combined my passion for writing with my desire to better my community, it seemed like the perfect fit.
After finishing my freshman year and reporting on a variety of topics and issues such as gender inequity and gun control, I discovered a love and passion for journalism. At the same time, I also took Spanish classes because I enjoyed learning the language and wanted to continue my studies from high school. After I took a class about Spanish media and the need for more accessible media for Spanish speakers in the U.S., I found a Spanish for the Professions major track that paired with my journalism degree. I decided to pursue both to communicate and share information with a wider audience.
How has the major you studied shaped the way you look at the world?
The beauty of journalism is that it is based on authenticity, education and relationships. In a time when people feel that there is a lack of clarity and it is hard to decipher what is real and what is not, journalism has offered a method of building community and trust based on accurate, ethical storytelling. I believe local journalism is vital to the success of a community and to democracy, as information is power. It’s my mission to empower people with information so that they can make informed decisions that best fit their needs and values. By studying journalism and Spanish, I also hope to make that information more accessible to Spanish-speaking communities. I aim to offer greater representation and stories about underrepresented and marginalized people in an effort to create more understanding and compassion among all people.
What’s an area where you feel like you’ve really grown between your first semester of college and today?
Coming into college, I was shy and terrified to talk to strangers. For those reasons, I felt unsure about my journalism major. How could I be a good journalist while also being an introverted, socially anxious person? However, through the mentorship of professors and faculty, I found my voice and became comfortable with being uncomfortable. Through being a CMCI Ambassador, an RA and a journalist, I have practiced having conversations with strangers on nearly a daily basis. It’s been incredibly rewarding to not only learn how to be comfortable with talking with others but also to have gained so much knowledge from those conversations.
Was there a project you worked on or a real-world experience that you gained as a student that you’re especially proud of or that taught you a lot?
There are two experiences that have been especially formative for me: helping create The Bold and working with the Denver Gazette as part of the CU News Corps capstone course.
In 2020, I began working with three other students to brainstorm and develop what would become The Bold, a multimedia-driven student publication with a variety of platforms, including a newspaper and a magazine. It was incredible to be a part of something from the ground up and gain experience in developing the foundation, the values and the brand of a publication. As editor-in-chief of The Bold Magazine––a publication that continues to evolve and improve with each iteration––I’ve loved mentoring writers of all levels and backgrounds while also brainstorming and innovating new methods of storytelling. I have grown as an editor, journalist, leader and individual while also gaining a great community.
The CU News Corps journalism capstone course was also incredibly rewarding, as I had the opportunity to work with the Denver Gazette to report on the impact of the Central 70 construction project on the 80216 zip code. Specifically, I worked with a team of journalists to report on the impact of the construction on the Elyria-Swansea and Globeville neighborhoods, a predominantly working-class, Hispanic community that has a history of contamination and increasing concerns about the rising cost of living and gentrification. It was amazing to have the opportunity to work on this project for months, allowing me the time needed to thoroughly research the history of the area and about the construction project. I also had the opportunity to speak with community members, with one of the interviews in Spanish. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding reporting experiences of my life.
A huge part of college is finding a community of people to support you, work with you, mentor you and encourage you. Who was in your herd during college and how did they shape your experience?
Being a part of CMCI was one of the best experiences I have had because of the support, mentorship and kindness that I received from students, faculty and staff involved in the college. At the beginning of my college career, I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone and I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, after that first year, I knew I had found a second home—a second family—within CMCI.
I found a supportive community through the CMCI Ambassadors organization during my first year and I am so grateful for all of the amazing opportunities and relationships that formed out of my involvement, including an internship with CMCI Now magazine. In this past year, I have also been fortunate enough to find a supportive community through my involvement in The Bold.
Based on what you know now, what is your best piece of advice for other students?
There are two pieces of advice I recieved my freshman year that positively shaped my college experience: get involved and always try.
Getting involved on campus through student clubs and organizations is one of the best ways to meet people who share similar interests and passions, which not only allows you to create great relationships but to also start discovering more information and opportunities related to your passions.
During my freshman year, a senior at CU Boulder told me that it’s always better to try something new and go after opportunities rather than never try at all. While it may seem intimidating to share your opinion, to offer new ideas or to try a new strategy, the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work out or that someone says no. So, if there is something that piques your interest, try it out. College is the perfect time to be adventurous and do whatever may interest you and if it doesn’t work out, there’s always another exciting opportunity you can try instead.
If you’re up for a challenge, try to sum up your college experience in three words!
Challenging, inspiring, supportive.