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Where You'll Go: Our Alumni

Rachel Brown

Intrepid Storyteller: Rachel Brown

An explorer by nature, Rachel Brown traversed the Chesapeake region and beyond as a student leader of Starr Center oral history projects and summer sailing trips.

A big break came just before graduation, when Susan Goldberg, editor in chief of National Geographic, visited as a guest of the Starr Center. At the end of a small dinner with students and faculty at the Custom House, Goldberg gave Brown her business card. A job offer soon followed. Brown is now an associate editor and producer of the legendary magazine's digital travel content -- assigning, creating, and editing reportage that spans the globe.

The Starr Center's role went far beyond that professional connection, Brown says. In her freshman year, she'd worked ona project with other students researching that writing biographies of African AMerican Civil War soliders. "It was the first time that I had ever got to combine two things that I was passionate about: rigorous academic research and creative storytelling," she says. "And it's exactly what I want to do with my life now." Soon, she became deeply involved in the Starr Center's oral history program, StoryQuest: "Oral history was beautiful because it helped me find the little flecks of poetry in human interactions. IT taught me to work as part of a team, to be organizeda nd acareful. Oral history wasn't just about a grade -- I needed to treat another person's entire life story with care and respect."

Today, Brown's worked reaches far larger audiences. Among other roles at National Geographic, she produces a travel newsletter that reaches more than a million readers every week. "The more time I spend thinking about what's really important to me," she says, "the more it really comes down to openhearted, energetic, clear-eyed engagement with stories, and finding ways to help tell them."


History Maker: Jack Bohrer '06

Jack Bohrer makes history in more than one sense. As a New York-based senior producer for MSNB's "Morning Joe," he covers presidential campaigns and political crises. "I'm watching the first draft of history get put together," he says. "It's what I do every day. I've worked with all of the major presidential candidates in two election cycles. I have opportunities to ask questions of the most powerful people in the country, and of those aspiring to be the most powerful person in the world."

Bohrer is also an accomplished chronicler of political stories from the past. As a Washington College undergraduate, he began researching American in the 1960s, developing a particular interest in Robert F. Kennedy -- work for which he received a student fellowship. He fondly recalls writing late into the night at a desk in the Custom House. He also benefited from the guidance of two treasured mentors: former senator Birch Bayh and the legendary biographer and political journalist Richard Ben Cramer, both senior fellows of the Starr Center.

Several years ago, Bohrer developed his historical research project into a book, The Revolution of Robert Kennedy: From Power to Protest After JFK, published by Bloomsbury. The book "is tightly packed with detail, much of it fascinating and even moving," wrote the Washington Post's reviewer.

"Every time a project comes across my desk in the newsroom, the intellectual reflexes I learned at the Starr Center kick in," Bohrer says. For instance, he cites a maxim that he learned at the Center -- "follow the footnotes" -- as an idea that guides him as he pursues journalistic sources.
"History and journalism are both about having the documentation to back things up," he explains. "How do you know that something is true? How can you prove it? How can you tell a big story by focusing on a small moment? I never took a single journalism course, but what I learned through the Starr Center was just as valuable."