Looking Back: An Interview with Heather Janssen

Photo Credit: Heather Janssen

by Mariah Davis

Heather Janssen graduated from Plymouth State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is originally from Mercerville, New Jersey but now lives in State College, Pennsylvania.

Q: What was the name of your IDS program, and what disciplines make it up?
A: My program was called Weather Journalism, and the disciplines that made it up were Communications and Meteorology.

Q: Why did you create the program that you did, and what is it all about?
A: I was originally a Meteorology major at PSU. However, the path you would take for that major wasn’t exactly fit for me, and what I wanted to do in the future. That is why I created my program to incorporate what I enjoy, writing, and the weather.

Q: How did Meteorology and Communications play a role in your program?
A: At PSU, I took various meteorology courses, such as Synoptic and Broadcast Meteorology. These courses were essential to further my weather knowledge as well as be able to explain meteorological concepts to an audience. On the Communications side, I took a diverse amount of classes from Communication Theory to Journalism to Film and Video Production Techniques. These helped in understanding the many ways we can interact and communicate with each other. This was important because, as a future writer, I needed to know how to engage, communicate, and interact with a reader/audience.

Q: How has your IDS program helped you after graduation?
A: Fortunately, after graduation, I was able to apply my program directly with an internship at AccuWeather. I was an online journalist writing various weather-related stories for the company’s website.  Some of the topics I wrote about included wildfires, ecological/environmental issues, clouds, tornado anniversaries, and more. I continued working as a part-time employee until July 2016.

Q: What are you doing as a career right now?
A: A part of life is the unexpected and the many changes we go through. I am longer at AccuWeather and doing a different field of work. I’m currently an Administrative Assistant at a local company in State College, Pennsylvania. While it does not incorporate the weather, I still regularly use my skills from the Communications side of my program.

Q: What advice would you give to a first year student, or someone looking to get into interdisciplinary studies?
A: My biggest piece of advice for first year students is that not to stress over not knowing what you want do after you graduate or knowing exactly what you want to major in. Take time to explore and be open-minded about what you can do at PSU. When I was a first-year student, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do after I graduated, but I think that narrowed my view of other possibilities early on in my college career.

Q: What storm in weather history do you find the most interesting?
A: There are many storms in weather history that I find interesting, but if I had to choose one it would be the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado on May 31, 2013. It is the widest tornado on record and rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. I remember seeing the tornado on TV and I was amazed and terrified of how large it was. This event also has some personal meaning as I knew someone who was in the area storm chasing and were having difficulties getting out of the tornado’s path. This was a reminder as to while these storms can be fascinating; they can also be very powerful, and deadly.

Q: What do you miss most about PSU?
A: I miss the warm and close-knit community at PSU. I loved being able to know and say “hello” to multiple people walking around campus, and downtown. While I am living in a college town now, it’s definitely not the same as PSU.

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One Response to “Looking Back: An Interview with Heather Janssen”

April 27, 2017 at 10:46 pm, Robin DeRosa said:

I remember Heather’s awesome blog, “What’s the weather, Heather?” that she created while here at PSU. I learned so much from that blog! 🙂

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