Hi-Line alumna shining at UNI

Above are only a few of Sierra Steen’s (’16) award winning graphics published in the Hi-Line.  At far left was a graphic for an article about disconnecting from too much digital influence. Next to that is the graphic for an Earth Day special edition. Next is the graphic for the homecoming game, and lastly is the graphic to accompany an editorial on cyberbullying. As freshman now at UNI, Steen is managing editor of the UNI newspaper, The Northern Iowan.

Sometimes all it takes is a nudge from a teacher to find your new passion. This was the case for CF alumnus (’16) Sierra Steen, a former Tiger Hi-line staff writer who now is managing editor for The Northern Iowan, the UNI newspaper. She accredits her current success to her days of writing and designing pages for the Tiger Hi-Line.

“I was in the journalism room one day junior year doing a program design for a band concert when Winkel comes in and is amazed that I actually know how to do edits and graphics without being taught how to,” Steen said. “Which is when I explained I’ve been practicing for years, and he asked me to join the journalism team to be able to make graphics for the Hi-Line.”

While journalism has recently been a huge part of Steen’s life, she claims it wasn’t always easy to fit into such a full schedule. “I always liked journalism because I love to write, but I was always too busy to get into it. I made time senior year, and it was well worth it. I was more into the graphics and layout perspective of it, but I got to incorporate my writing skills as well. I took [journalism] my senior year after Winkel convinced me to take it since he saw I was knowledgeable with Photoshop.”

She said she believes that skills she learned in room 208 have really shaped her and made her a better reporter. “I really learned how to be creative, dig for the best news and how to work with other people since I had to make graphics for the Hi-Line,” Steen said.

Before she left to shape the hearts and minds of those who attend UNI through The Northern Iowan, Steen won the second place award of “Illustrations and Graphics” in Class B from the Iowa High School Press Association. While her days of interviewing people in the halls of Cedar Falls High School are over, her passion to do graphic design and writing have carried over into her Panther lifestyle.

“The best thing I learned [from the Tiger Hi-line] was InDesign, because I’m using it a lot in my current career with The Northern Iowan. The Northern Iowan is a job and not a class I had to take, but it is helping me figure out what I like to do and what I don’t with my graphic editing career.”

While Steen spends a lot of her collegiate career marching on the turf with her beloved Panther marching band, she makes time for her hobbies such as photography, graphic design and her job at The Northern Iowan is a huge priority and source of happiness and pride in her life.

“I am now the managing editor there [The Northern Iowan], and I had to apply for the position, but I was recommended by professor Chris Martin. They’re always looking for staff writers, who are paid!” Steen said, giving a little plug for the paper.

Given her success in the field of journalism and graphics, her advice on joining a collegiate newspaper is enthusiastic. “Dive right in and do it. I don’t know how easy it is to join the newspaper at other colleges, but here at UNI it’s simple, and you get paid to do it. Chances are, more likely than not, that they will accept you with open arms and that they will teach you the ropes.”

While Steen has learned a lot in the past two years of being on a newspaper staff in one way or another, the most valuable lesson to learn is the relationships you make. “Working with a paper is really about serving the community, building expertise and friendships along the way, so I totally recommend at least taking a look into continuing your journalism career, even if you’re not majoring in it.”

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