by Ashley Yuen '13
It has been ten years since Samantha Henig ’02 graduated from the Montgomery Blair High School Magnet Program. While magnet students are often expected to become doctors, physicists, or mathematicians after high school, Henig has found her calling in journalism and is currently the web editor for the New York Times Magazine.
The Early Stages
Henig did not always know that she wanted to be a journalist. It was after she took a journalism class in her sophomore year at Blair that she started thinking about pursuing a career in journalism. She then worked on every Blair publication she could – the student newspaper Silver Chips, the literary magazine Silver Quill, and the magnet literary magazine Silver Quest. Silver Chips was especially helpful in fostering her passion for journalism. “I loved working on Silver Chips – not just writing, but also coming up with story ideas, editing…I even loved walking around the building distributing the thing, and getting to see people’s reactions as they paged through,” Henig reminisces. But writing was not her only forte – like other Blazers, Henig participated in multiple activities. She acted in a few school plays and founded MagPi, a peer mentoring program for magnet students that pairs seniors with freshmen mentees to lend support to freshmen who need help transitioning to Blair and the magnet program.
Continuing a Passion
After Henig graduated from the Blair Magnet, she went north to Cornell University where she looked forward to the beautiful campus and large student body. When she started at Cornell, however, she was underwhelmed by the journalism scene there. “I was disheartened that there wasn't as vibrant a publication there as we'd had at Blair,” Henig says. To make up for this, she and her fellow Silver Chips alum, Katie Jentleson ‘02, a student who was in the Blair Communication Arts Program, started a feature magazine in Cornell called Kitsch. It features articles about life on campus, life off-campus, entertainment, and a collection of fiction, art, and photography. “I'm thrilled that it is still going, and going strong. We're about to celebrate the ten-year anniversary, which makes me feel very old, but also really proud that we created a lasting, thriving institution,” Henig enthuses. It is one of her proudest college accomplishments.
Working Her Way Up
The journey to the New York Times Magazine was a long one. Henig started off her career working a number of internships during and after college, including the Columbia Journalism Review, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Newsweek. Eventually, she landed a job managing Current, a national magazine written and edited by college students and produced by Newsweek. “That was a lot of fun – it sort of felt like being back at Kitsch or Silver Chips, working with young, enthusiastic writers,” Henig says. From there on, Henig had a multitude of other jobs before settling down. “I worked as a reporter at Newsweek, spent a year launching an online women's magazine at Slate called DoubleX, a year and a half at The New Yorker as the digital news editor, and all of that led to me ending up at the New York Times Magazine, as the web editor,” she said. Recently, Henig and her mother, Robin Marantz Henig, wrote and published a book together titled Twentysomething: Why Do Young Adults Seem Stuck? (see inset)
Once a Magnet, Always a Magnet
Henig believes that the Magnet Program prepared her well for college and her career. “The Magnet does an amazing job of training us to work hard. I remember being sort of shocked freshman year that so many people were complaining about the workload…it felt like a breeze compared to high school,” she comments. Even though Henig does not need to use the math and science from the magnet very often anymore, ten years later, she still uses the work ethic she developed during her time in the program. “The general ability to work long, hard hours when needed is something that's still valuable to me from my magnet time,” Henig notes. This ability has helped her throughout her college years and career, as it also will for magnets who are graduating soon.
College Advice for Blazers
Henig offers a final piece of advice for juniors and seniors looking into or applying to colleges: “College is what you make of it. There's so much that you can get out of college just by being assertive and engaged once you're there – going to office hours, joining clubs, starting your own projects. Those are the things that are going to shape your college experience and the years that come after, more than which school you end up attending. So don't stress out too much about Ivy vs. non-Ivy, if you can help it. Wherever you end up, just go in there ready to make the most of it.”
You can check out some of Samantha Henig’s recent work from the New York Times Magazine here: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/author/samantha-henig/