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10 Questions With Onward State’s New Managing Editor Megan Fleming

In the six and a half years since its formation, Onward State has become the largest student media outlet in the country. In that time it’s been led by 11 talented, knowledgeable, and very male Managing Editors. With the semester wrapping up and current Managing Editor Zach Berger stepping (further) into the real world, it was time we chose his successor.

Without further adieu, we would like to formally introduce the youngest and first female Managing Editor of Onward State: Megan Fleming. Though she is only a rising Sophomore, Megan has earned her way through the ranks, from contributor, to staff writer, to Associate Editor, and finally our new Managing Editor.

Seeing as Megan lives in Michigan (don’t worry, she doesn’t suck) and I live about 550 miles away in Spring City, Pa., I sat down with Megan on Google Hangout for 10 questions to see what she has in store for next year. And why “joining Onward State was the second best decision [she’s] ever made, second only to choosing to come to Penn State.”

Onward State: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Megan Fleming: I’m a sophomore majoring in journalism and something in liberal arts. I’m from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, which is right outside Detroit. I do in fact know all the words to 8 Mile. I went to Grosse Pointe South High School, which kinda looks like Penn State. It was a great place to go to school and a great place to grow up. What else…I’m the oldest of three, my parents are the greatest humans on the planet, I’m obsessed with corgis, and I listen to classical music all the time. The Detroit News used the words best, brightest, and outstanding to describe me. That was when I peaked. People call me Flemdog, and people also tell me I have an accent. (Editor’s note: it is indeed very Michigan.)

OS: Why did you decide to apply for Onward State?
MF: I wanted to get involved. I started following Onward State when I visited campus for the first time (the weekend before THON 2014), and when I saw the applications go out over the summer I thought, ‘okay, why not?’ I originally applied to do graphic design. When I sent in my application with all of my writing clips from high school, Managing Editor at the time Tim Gilbert said, ‘Nope, you’re gonna write, too.’ I, as any freshman would when given the chance to be a part of the largest student media outlet in the country, said okay. And now here we are. Wouldn’t change a thing.

OS: Why did you decide to go into journalism?
MF: My high school journalism adviser for The Tower Newspaper, Jeff Nardone. For three years he was the best teacher, mentor, adviser, and friend I could have asked for. He lost his battle with cancer my senior year, but he changed my life in the time I was lucky enough to know him. He believed in me and helped me believe in myself, all the while helping me figure out what I want to do with my life. He had a saying, “never forget what you’re apart of,” and I take that to heart.

OS: What is your favorite part about Onward State?
MF: That’s a tough one. Externally, I think the purpose we serve is incredibly important and I love that there’s something for everyone on the site. Internally, it’s a privilege to be on staff and get to work with so many awesome, creative, and informed people. Everyone brings a different perspective from different parts of the Penn State community. We’re not all journalists, which I like. We’re just people who have two things in common: we love to write and we love Penn State. Makes for a lot of fun.

OS: Seeing as you’re both the youngest and first female in the position, how big of an honor was it being named Managing Editor?
MF: It’s a huge honor. This time last year I’d only been on campus once, and now it’s home. I owe a lot of the best parts of the last year to Onward State. Being Managing Editor is an opportunity I take seriously, and knowing the staff has the confidence in me at such a young age is a great feeling.

OS: Describe a typical day as Onward State’s Managing Editor. What does the job entail?
MF: There’s no such thing as a typical day and that’s part of the fun. As far as my technical duties, I am in charge of our staff, making sure we have good content for the site every day, and ensuring we’re always striving to do better. And most importantly, maintaining our brand as the primary Penn State outlet that drives conversation.

OS: What are some of your goals as Managing Editor? What do you want to accomplish?
MF: To collectively step up our game as a staff to maintain and exceed the quality of what we’ve been doing. If I had to pick one goal, it’s to fire on all cylinders. I think we’ve done great work, but we can always do better. I’ll take a hint from my friend Greg Drane and just say I definitely have some tricks up my sleeve.

OS: What have you learned from the Managing Editors you’ve worked under, Tim Gilbert and Zach Berger, and what, if anything, do you want to do differently?
MF: Funny story about those two. Tim was my mentor last semester and Berger bumped into our first mentor/mentee meeting at Panera. He sat with us and chatted for an hour or so, and became my unofficial second mentor after that. I guess it’s not that funny, but last October one current and two future managing editors sat at a booth in Panera. Makes you think, I guess. Anyways, I  learned an extraordinary amount from both of them. Tim is an incredibly smart individual who knows a lot about Penn State and the news scene here. It was really valuable to watch him lead the site and pass down his knowledge to the new staffers. It was no easy task, but he did it really well. This semester, Berger really helped me get my sea legs for what it’s like to be an editor and balance being a leader while still learning and getting better. Differently from both of them, though, I like to think I bring a much needed ray of sunshine to the table. I have my own vision for the site that is definitely influenced by both of them, but I’m not going to do things how they did them just because that’s how they did them.

OS: How do you spend your time when you’re not doing something Onward State-related?
MF: I should sleep more than I do. But, I love being active; running, yoga, exercise. I have a lot of energy, just ask anyone on press row during THON. I like to go out, have a good time, ya know. Studying is also important because, as my mom always reminds me, ‘You’re at Penn State for college!’

OS: As is Onward State tradition, if you could be a dinosaur, which one would you be and why?
MF: Oh no I forgot to Google this earlier! Uhhh…okay got one. C-o-m-p-s-o-g-n-a-t-h-u-s. Compsognathus. Because it’s small. And it’s Greek for elegant. Sure, let’s go with that.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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