Kaylee Tornay

Hometown: Bend, Oregon

High School: Bend High School

Major: Journalism–News-Editorial

Minor Political Science

Kaylee served as the National Honor Society Secretary for Bend High School and founded the International Baccalaureate Food Club. In addition to playing the saxophone in the all-state pep band and serving as a veteran member of her school’s mock trial team, Kaylee volunteered at the Humane Society of Central Oregon and with Project Connect Homeless Outreach. She has also written a novel that is currently in the editing stage.

What is the UO doing well? I think the UO is doing a great job at recruiting very talented, passionate, and experienced faculty. From my view in the School of Journalism and Communication, it’s clear that the faculty who have arrived during my time here are all extraordinary. I don’t think that that’s something that just happens on its own, and it’s incredibly important in shaping students’ experiences. I’m glad to see that an emphasis is being put on that area of preparation.

What are you most proud of accomplishing since you started at the UO? At this point, I would have to say one of the things I’m proudest of is being selected as one of about a dozen students in the SOJC to go to Sri Lanka in December. We will be documenting local efforts in Colombo and Kandy to recover from the 2004 tsunami and subsequent return to war. Many qualified students applied to be a part of this trip, and I am entirely humbled and excited that the planners counted me among those they entrusted with the responsibility of representing the SOJC and sensitively telling these stories.

What are some things you've been doing outside of the classroom since you've been at UO? I have worked at the Emerald, the independent student newspaper on campus, since freshman year. It has been a great place to challenge me and offer me opportunities to grow and try new things. I began as a reporter on the theater beat and sophomore year moved to covering student government. I really enjoyed learning more about the way money works at the university and decided to apply for management staff, which I’ve been a part of this year. I also am involved with a campus ministry called the Navigators, and that involves a leadership aspect of organizing events and staffing the Question Table, where students choose to come and ask whatever questions they have about spirituality and the “why” behind all the work they put into building themselves.

Describe a mentor or professor who has positively influenced your experience at UO. Michelle Holdway, in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, has been one of my most important mentors during my time at UO. She has consistently provided support and encouragement, from the time when I was a freshman with too many options to count, to now while I’m seeing the end of my time here in sight. She has helped me to understand how to go about taking advantage of the Stamps scholarship, without ever making me feel pressured or stressed. She has encouraged me to discover as much about myself as possible and to try new things, and she has gone out of her way to help me when she can. Every one of the Stamps scholars feels comfortable around her, and she was particularly helpful and fun during our time together at the national Stamps convention.

Describe a couple of your favorite classes that you've taken at UO. One of the classes I really enjoyed this year was International Communication, which examines the influences of colonization, deregulation, and monopolies in shaping the current media landscape. I learned a lot about how mainstream media forms in other countries and markets differ from western markets, and it helped me appreciate the importance of diversity in ownership of news outlets. After taking that class, I realized that I actually was interested in going to grad school to learn more about the history of media, as the industry continues to shift. I also enjoyed my first colloquium in the Honors College, which delved into the ways humans have searched for, stored and catalogued information throughout history. The themes were very related to the kinds of shifts that the news industry has undergone because of developing technologies, and I got to write my term paper about BuzzFeed.

What are you hoping to do with your major, both while you work toward graduation and after? I really enjoy writing, at the heart of it all. I enjoy telling stories, whether they’re nonfiction or fiction (although I do believe in a clear distinction between the two!) Being a journalism major has taught me to write consistently and cut out excess words; it’s taught me to think carefully, to get outside of my own perspective before every step of a story. I am hoping to really learn from the process of doing my thesis, which I am hoping to focus on hyperlocal online journalism outfits. I am considering grad school, looking for a job, or ministry work after graduating.