Sometimes, opportunity knocks. Other times, you have to chase that sucker down the street. This is what Richa Choubey, senior Professional Writing/Information & Media student, had to do. Michigan State University has a lot of great organizations and resources as does the Professional Writing program itself, but she saw room for something more.
“I was in a Visual Rhetoric class with Haley and I was looking around and I just noticed that everyone was on Buzzfeed half the time. Even I was on Buzzfeed… For whatever reason it just dawned on me one day that that’s a perfect professional writing thing for us to have as a club. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was looking at our site instead?”
She saw an opportunity for students to collaborate, especially drawing on the versatility of PW students, and engineer a creative hub from the bottom up for student writers to publish their ideas. Together, Choubey and Haley Erb (Junior, Professional Writing) set out to gather writers and web developers to make the idea a reality. They focused on the idea of showcasing student’s work in an entirely student-made and student-run publication. Through word of mouth, the club grew steadily, surviving the summer break and gaining momentum through the fall. Thus, the Culture Bubble was born. The project, marketed as an opportunity to write in the style of sites like Buzzfeed and hellogiggles, attracted students for a variety of reasons, but most were drawn in by the opportunity to get real world experience and the freedom to write what they liked.
“I need a platform to launch the beginnings of a portfolio for my career and this is a great place for it.” Akshita Verma, a Sophomore in the Neuroscience (Pre-Med) and Journalism programs, explained. Similar to how the PW program strives to help its students produce impressive work for the real world, the Culture Bubble also provides opportunities for students to flesh out their portfolios and showcase examples of their work in a space made by students, for students.
The Culture Bubble has four sections that encompass their interests: MSU, Pop Culture, Sass, and Grab Bag. Where Sass includes snarky editorial-type articles, Grab Bag is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Created during the inception of the Culture Bubble, these sections were based on topics members wanted to write about.
“I like that I am able to show off my own work, the work that I choose to make rather than assignments,” said Professional Writing Sophomore and editor of the Pop Culture section, Alyssa Smith. “I just like that I am able to show off my own work. I can choose what I wanna write about and how I wanna write about it.” While the club keeps frequent deadlines for articles to be finished, it encourages members to write about their individual interests. This not only strengthens the overall diversity of the material, but it allows students to explore topics they might not be able to otherwise.
“It’s nice to be able get a platform to publicize the stuff that you wrote in that sort of regard. It’s a kind of stepping stone to get my work around,” said Shannon Roe-Butler, a Senior in Professional Writing and English and the Sass section editor for the Culture Bubble. By establishing a student-made hub for student work, the Culture Bubble provides an admirable space for students to exercise creative freedom and showcase their individuality.
Choubey also hopes that it will provide a stronger network among alumni, comparing her experience in Telecasters to her vision for the Culture Bubble. “I already had a network there from the work that I had been doing. I knew that there were people out there that I could look up to and reach out to and have something in common with and I wanted that for Professional Writing as well. Because our alumni network is amazing, and they’re reachable, but there’s nothing that really binds us together other than the major. And while the major is small, there should be this concrete sort of thing that we can all bond over. Eventually one day we can all be a big family.”
Laura Julier, Director of Professional Writing and advisor for the Culture Bubble, expresses her hopes for the club and its future: “I’m very excited to support PW students in organizing and creating Culture Bubble. It’s yet another example of students listening to one another, identifying a need, and creatively responding. Richa and Haley have been really smart in how they’ve imagined this as an online publication, especially in the structures they’ve created to curate the writing that will be published. I think these writers are going to reach an audience way beyond MSU.”
The website officially launches March 31st.