By LiAnna Davis '04
The idea came to Nick Edwards ’04 during a summer internship at the Canadian Embassy. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a nationally distributed collegiate magazine devoted to international issues?
Edwards spent the next summer figuring out the details. Simultaneously working on a university-sponsored research grant on Islamic fundamentalism that he adapted into an article for the first issue, he recruited friends and classmates to raise money and write, edit, and design the new publication. Among them were Chris Hlavaty ’04, who had no formal design training but volunteered to do layout; Dylan Kahler ’04, an art major who saw the magazine as a groundbreaking way to get students involved with international issues; and Kathleen Sullivan ’04, whose expertise in copy editing was called on after three straight 21-hour days had muddled the staff’s ability to think clearly.
The first issue of the Internationalist, a nonpartisan forum for students and professors to discuss global issues, share research, and publish their ideas, debuted on the Puget Sound campus in October 2003 and soon would be found on campuses across the country.
“Students and professors are really excited about what we’re doing,” Edwards says. “The Internationalist filled a void on many college campuses.”
With the help of a local advertising campaign, financial support from UPS, and articles from students nationwide, Edwards and his staff published two more issues in 2004. And then he—and several other staff members—graduated.
“We had to re-evaluate what we were doing with the Internationalist. We decided we had to do it full time, total investment in everything, just go for it,” says Edwards. “And now here we are.”
Where they are is producing a quarterly, full-color 64-page magazine distributed for free on more than 50 college campuses nationwide. Edwards convinced Hlavaty, Kahler, and Sullivan to give up other job offers to keep working for the Internationalist. All four spend almost all of their waking hours working on the publication—soliciting articles from students at other universities, selling advertisements to national organizations, managing a staff of 20 volunteer students, and fund raising to keep the magazine going. And they love it.
“We’re earning close to no money, barely scraping by eating ketchup packets on stale bread, but we’re 23 and we can’t do this any other time in our lives,” says Edwards. “We sit in our so-called office with five or 20 of us crammed in there, discussing and debating the issues, trying to figure out the exact wording of headlines, freaking out on the phone because advertisers aren’t signing their contracts. I take a step back and say, wow, this is cool. Hellish, but so fun.”
Kahler says he loves the production process. “Taking a hodgepodge of ideas and imagery from the most basic conceptual level to a printed product is phenomenal.”
“None of us had any real experience before starting the magazine,” Hlavaty says. “We had no business training, no formal journalism or design training, no experience even working for a magazine. But we’re learning. It’s a real-world extension of our education. It’s taught us all so much about self-reliance.”
Self reliance, but with help from UPS professors and student staff. “None of this could be possible without their support,” Sullivan says. Five UPS faculty members sit on the Board of Directors of the newly formed Internationalist Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose primary function is publishing the magazine.
After a double issue in April, Edwards, Hlavaty, Kahler, and Sullivan will spend the summer expanding business opportunities for the magazine and solidifying the design and writing. They hope to use the Internationalist as a launching pad for a lecture series, conferences, contests, or debates.
“Even though we’re proud of our accomplishments, it’s been an incredibly humbling experience from day one straight through. But that just makes the high points brighter,” says Edwards. “We’ll continue the magazine until we grind into the ground or we succeed.”