2012 graduate Sarah Darby found her passion for journalism on JagWire newspaper staff
Continuing her career in journalism, former Jagwire editor-in-chief Sarah Darby interns at the Kansas City Star
March 1, 2016
A career in journalism was a clear choice for 2012 graduate Sarah Darby, who was editor-in-chief of the 2011-12 JagWire newspaper.
Like every senior, Darby wrestled with her future decisions, making up her mind one day and then changing it. Now, she looks back fondly on the moment that pursuing journalism as a career clicked.
“I came back into the journalism room at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. [to work on a story], and [journalism advisor Kathy] Habiger was still there for some reason, and she said, ‘You know you wouldn’t do this if you didn’t love it.’ I think it was kind of just moments of self-reflection on my senior year and just realizing that I was spending so much time doing journalism because I really enjoyed it,” Darby said via video chat. “[I recognized] that I could keep pursuing that passion as a career and still really like it in the future.”
After four years of teaching Darby, Habiger had the confidence to say those words because of Darby’s clear passion for reporting.
“She’s a great writer and a great investigative reporter, just endlessly curious. That’s what a reporter should be. So I was just like, ‘Look, honestly you can’t see yourself doing anything other than this,’” Habiger said.
Darby’s main focus during high school was always learning. She was a self-proclaimed nerd, which helped her prepare for college.
“I think that Mill Valley has really good teachers. A lot of my classes really prepared me for college. I think especially my honors and AP classes really helped me a lot,” Darby said. “All the extracurriculars I did like journalism and the clubs I did helped me discover what I wanted to do in the future.”
Darby plans to graduate in May from the University of Missouri — Columbia, where she is majoring in journalism with an interest area in international convergence journalism and minoring in entrepreneurship. Her passion has shifted from traditional reporting in high school to the business aspect of journalism.
“I want to work in strategy for a startup. I got to college [and] I realized that I have a stronger passion for the strategy and business side of journalism and ensuring that journalism makes money so it can be sustainable,” Darby said. “I’m really interested in helping media organizations figure out how to gain revenue to fund their journalism.”
Darby said being a “journalism kid” defined her high school career. While her main focus was on the JagWire and academics, she was also involved with StuCo, NHS, track, tennis and volleyball. Darby said the programs she was involved in shaped her future.
“I really learned what I was passionate about and what I wanted to do. I’m still doing journalism, so I still kind of did in high school. In that sense, it kind of shaped my future career path,” Darby said. “I loved my teacher [and I] loved the school. I just really enjoyed my time.”
Darby was awarded KSPA Student Journalist of the Year and national runner up in 2012. According to Habiger, Darby’s desire to learn made her a clear leader and great editor-in-chief.
“I think it made her a leader, a natural leader, because she was someone who always wanted to make things better or to figure out why something was done a certain way, how could she make it better, how could she learn more about what she already knew,” Habiger said.
Darby still keeps in touch with Habiger now. She enjoys learning about current staff and new journalism ideas with Habiger, but Habiger has also become a mentor for Darby’s career.
“It’s really fun because, in high school, [Habiger] was kind of my editor or boss. She was always kind of my friend, but, you know, she was in charge of me and I had to listen to her. Seeing now how her role in my life has continued to shape my future career path has been really fun,” Darby said. “Hearing about newspaper staffs and yearbook staffs and how they have changed and haven’t changed — it’s just given me a fun perspective on what my time was like as a jaguar and seeing how it is today.”
This past summer, Darby completed a digital news internship at the Kansas City Star, where she worked with the digital news team to put content on the website, move top stories around based on analytics, post on social media, help shoot video content and do some print reporting.
“They hadn’t had that position before, so I kind of did a little bit of everything in a way because they were kind of testing out the position,” Darby said. “Mostly I was working with the digital team to help grow audience on the website.”
Darby has also explored new aspects of her major by traveling to conferences and internships and reporting abroad. Darby gained experience from an internship in Argentina in the fall of 2014. She also traveled to South Africa for a few weeks in the summer of 2015 to interview people who were political activists during the time of apartheid.
This October, Darby found a new passion for the business journalism. She went to a hackathon, a conference where computer programmers and business people collaborate on projects, called Hack the Gender Gap, where teams of women created business models around virtual reality journalism.
“It was really fun this fall in particular. I am really into the technology and business side, and just being around a team of all women that are really awesome and motivated was really fun,” Darby said. “A lot of times in the business side, it’s not as diverse as it could be, and being around a group of really motivated journalists who happen to all be women … is really cool. [Seeing] all the possibilities with journalism, that there’s so much you can do with it, has been really cool.”
For Habiger, watching her students find what they are passionate about has been one of the most rewarding parts of her job.
“I think that’s the coolest part of my job, knowing that some kids decide that this thing that I’m really into is also what they would like to pursue. That they can find that passion in my classroom,” Habiger said. “A lot of kids don’t go into journalism, but they find a lot of other things that they get from my classroom, and that’s just as special.”