From the bricks to Supreme Court: OHIO senior externs at state’s highest court

Published: January 11, 2023 Author: Jalyn Bolyard

An abundance of experiential learning opportunities and Ohio University connections helped senior Kirsten Thomas earn an externship spot with the Supreme Court of Ohio this past fall.

Thomas, a journalism news and information major and student in the OHIO Honors Program, graduated one semester early in fall 2022. She traveled to Columbus for her externship twice a week during her last semester.

“Every day when I walk up to the Supreme Court of Ohio, it’s just so exciting. The building is absolutely incredible. There’s so much artwork and when they give you a tour of the building, you learn every piece is so intentional,” Thomas said. “It is so awesome to just be able to have this opportunity and be there.”

Thomas’ externship was arranged through the court’s public information office. Each day was different, she acknowledged, and the well-rounded experiences were very rewarding.

In her role, Thomas assisted with internal communications, drafted announcements, and even traveled to Meigs County for the opening of their new juvenile and probate court.

Thomas quickly noticed after starting that she had something in common with some of her colleagues – many were fellow Bobcats, including her supervisor, Lisa Colbert.

“Walking through the office, people would say, ‘Oh you’re from OU! I graduated from there,’” Thomas said. “It’s just awesome to have that connection. We can talk about Bagel Street and all the OHIO things, and it’s so fun.”

Before learning and working with the Supreme Court of Ohio, Thomas made connections with many Bobcat alumni in a separate role as a student writer for Ohio Today. Thomas wrote content for the publication beginning her sophomore year until this past summer.

“That was just an incredible learning experience,” Thomas said. “Having the opportunity to work with a professional in the field I think was huge for me.”

Her main duties included writing OHIO News and Ohio Today stories, as well as compiling the information for alumni authors and class notes that appears at the end of the printed publication.

“Working with students and being a part of their OHIO journey is one of the most rewarding parts of serving Ohio University,” said Angela Woodward, BSJ ’98, and previous publications editor of Ohio Today. “When you have a student like Kirsten who, from day one, was full of ambition, talent and dedication, it’s a joy to learn from and collaborate with them and help prepare them for future success – while forming a Bobcat connection. Kirsten is already so accomplished and has much to be proud of, and I can’t wait to see how far life and her amazing personality and professionalism take her.”

In addition to her Ohio Today work, Thomas was also involved in several student news organizations such as The Post, The New Political and WOUB. She wrote stories, recorded podcasts, ran prompters, and created other digital content like short quizzes.

“I started working kind of right away after getting on campus,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to be a sponge and learn everything that I could, I was so eager to be here and so excited.”

As part of her capstone class, Thomas also served as managing editor for Southeast Ohio Magazine this fall. She kept track of story assignments and progression and was also assigned an article.

Kirsten Thomas sits on a side wall that reads "Scripps College of Communication" on the Ohio University Athens Campus
Kirsten Thomas during the fall 2022 commencement. Photo provided by Kirsten Thomas.

When sharing with a high school advisor that she wanted to major in journalism, Thomas recalled the advisor confidently told her, “Well, you’re going to Ohio University then.”

OHIO had not been on Thomas’ radar, but after researching more into the programs, she decided to attend a tour to learn more about the journalism program.

“I got to Athens and I was hooked,” Thomas said. “I was like, ‘yep, this is it.’”

Now, Thomas realizes that although one chapter may be closing with her fall commencement, she’ll forever be a Bobcat.

She is thankful for the many experiences she’s had on campus, as well as the faculty and staff who supported her along the way, including Dr. Eddith Dashiell, Bill Reader, M.A., Dr. Elizabeth Hendrickson, Dr. Kelly Ferguson and Woodward.

“I would not have this externship, be able to graduate early or take part in any of the experiences I have without the support of my phenomenal family, friends, mentors, community and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism,” Thomas said. “While I’m the one getting to engage in so many awesome experiences, it’s their support that has made it all possible.”