Meet Magazine Editor Rebecca Padgett '14

May 18, 2017

by Samantha Surrency '18

From a young age, Lakeland native Rebecca Padgett ‘14 knew she had an interest in reading and writing. Exploring those passions at Florida Southern, she double majored in English with a concentration in creative writing and communications, concentrating in print journalism and is now working as an editor and writer for multiple publications. Though this young alum is highly successful, she had the time to chat with us and discuss how she got her start.

Why drove you to choose to attend Florida Southern? How did you get started here?

In high school, I was thinking about a larger university. I didn’t want to stay in my hometown. I thought I wanted a football team and the social scene. I’m incredibly grateful that touring FSC changed my mind. I received a hefty scholarship, which made me consider FSC. As soon as I went on the tour, I knew. It was unlike any college tour I had been on before. Students talked to one another, teachers knew their students, the opportunities for internships were limitless, the class sizes were intimate and the study abroad program was remarkable. The close-knit community and opportunities ultimately sold me on FSC and I’m thankful almost daily for that.

Did you participate in Florida Southern's active Greek community?

I was a member of Kappa Delta all four years I was in school. I was Vice President of Operations during my senior year and attended Kappa Delta’s National Conference in Boston. During previous years I served on the public relations committee.

What was your experience as a double major in both English and communications?

With English, I admired my professors, almost to the point where my freshman year I was a bit scared of them because they were esteemed, accomplished, and knowledgeable of the craft. I later realized they were humans who were genuinely helpful and open to ideas and interpretations. One of my proudest moments still, was presenting my 30-page senior seminar paper that I had worked on all semester with the help of my admirable professors.

I feel I found my niche through communications. Through that major, I discovered I wanted to go into magazine and creative writing as opposed to news. The professors exposed me to all of the mediums that are used in media, instructed me in AP Style, and lead me to all three of my internships. It was because of my communications major that I was hired so quickly after college.

Florida Southern has a great faculty. Who were your favorite professors?

In my English major, Dr. Bernheim. She is an astounding poet whose book, The Mimic Sea, greatly impressed me. Because of her, I still write poetry in my time outside of work. She is witty, intelligent and pushes her students to excel. Dr. Trice in communications taught me everything I knew when entering the workforce of journalism. By allowing me to write in different forms and media outlets I was prepared to take on publishing. His humor, knowledge and interest in his students has steered many of them to success.

Did you do any research or publish as a student?

My senior seminar is one of my proudest academic moments. For it, I studied New Journalism and its impact on fiction versus nonfiction. I was published in Orlando Style Magazine, Tampa Style Magazine, Polk Foodie Magazine, Polk Home and Garden Magazine and The Southern during college.

“My professors exposed me to the possibilities available. Most importantly, they believed in me. As cliché as it sounds, they never told me 'no' or said I wouldn’t make it.”
Rebecca Padgett

With your wide areas of interest, what extracurriculars were you involved with at FSC?

I was in Kappa Delta sorority, Opinions Editor and Staff Writer for The Southern, Secretary of Sigma Tau Delta (English Honor Society), Secretary of Lambda Pi Eta (Communications Honor Society), and my internships/jobs kept me occupied.

What’s something interesting about you?

I write for a day job, but also venture in creative writing, poetry, and songwriting outside of the office. It’s a dream of mine to publish a book by 35. That’s only ten years away, which makes my heart flutter a bit. Remember the name, just in case.

Florida Southern works hard to provide its students with opportunities to prepare them to succeed. Are there any experiences you had here that contributed to your success?

Without the three internships I had during my time at FSC I don’t think I would have been hired as a writer right after graduation. I interned with multiple magazine/publishing companies and had a résumé and samples to show for it. I’m naturally a go-getter, but my professors exposed me to the possibilities available. Most importantly, they believed in me. As cliché as it sounds, they never told me “no” or said I wouldn’t make it. 

What in your life inspired you to work in writing and editing?

Every Saturday when I was growing up my grandmother would take me to Barnes and Noble and we would read. Her house has always been lined with books as mine is now. Because of her, I was a reader long before I considered myself a writer.

I took interest in writing during high school. In my senior AP English class I wrote a poem, which went on to win the Polk County poetry contest. My high school English teacher, Mrs. Privett, was the first person to tell me I was good at writing. I had always enjoyed it, but until then no one had spoken those words. That was all I needed and I decided I would pursue writing in college.

You're both an editor and a freelance writer. With your busy schedule, what do your different jobs entail?

I am the editor of Northwest Florida Weddings Magazine, but I am a writer for the following publications that Rowland Publishing Inc. publishes: Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, 850 Business Magazine, Visit Panama City Beach, Florida Cancer Specialists and other client projects. As the editor of Northwest Florida Weddings Magazine, I oversee all workings of the magazine from story assignments to design elements to proof reading. I oversee writers and designers to ensure the magazine is promoting and exhibiting the intended message. Most importantly I write everything from feature stories to cover text to cutlines. Essentially, I’m the face and mind of the magazine. As for our other publications, I primarily write, cultivate story ideas, and coordinate our freelance writers.

What's the best part of working in this field for you?

I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do. I get to write every day and get paid for it. I’m using my degrees to their fullest. At 25, I’m the editor of a magazine. I still can’t believe that and I’m so abundantly grateful.

Your job obviously requires a specific set of skills. What does a typical day at work look like in your life?

Writing, writing, and more writing. It can be anything from cutlines and headlines to 3,000 word feature stories. I also do a good deal of editing and pitching story ideas. I’m constantly thinking of compelling topics to introduce to the magazine. Additionally, I’m the liaison between our freelance writers and the magazines. I make story assignments for them and ensure they are in on time. Here and there I make art related decisions. I oversee our editorial interns, which has been one of the most rewarding parts of my job because I was just in their shoes and on their side of the pen a few years ago. I’m able to guide them and help them in their writing.

Have you done any volunteer work since you graduated?

Rowland Publishing has several events throughout the year that raises hundreds of thousands for local charities. Outside of my job, I do volunteer work with the Junior League of Tallahassee and the Kappa Delta Tallahassee Alumni Chapter.

What’s one lesson you have learned in the field?

The possibilities with English and communications degrees are much vaster than you may think when entering into the majors. You just have to do what we do best: be creative.

What advice do you have to help current students?

Become versatile. Writing is my passion and pursuit, but I also learned photography, design programs and social media platforms. Time and time again these additional skills have made me a valuable asset to my company. A smile, genuine interest in others, creative thinking, and a willingness to try go a long way.