Journalist-cum-historian Alyson Penn is making a return to the news industry. Having spent the past four years in Atlanta studying anthropology and history at Emory University, she reignited the passion she possessed as the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and arrived at NYU with hopes of becoming editor of a magazine. The Baltimore native was a frequent visitor of New York City, and she loves the independence of the big city as much as she loathes the crowded subways and inclement weather. With three semesters of intensive writing and reporting ahead, Ms. Penn is optimistic about channeling all her skills into her journalism career.
I love New York: I love that it’s a walking city. You don’t have to depend on people for driving or parking, and you can just walk and take the subway or a cab, and that’s one of my favorite things. I love the different neighborhoods, how something’s going on all the time. The food is really good, the bars are really good, and there are a lot of attractive guys.
Worst NYC meal: I just bought some sushi from Walgreens and it wasn’t that great. I wanted to go grocery shopping, but it was before the rain hit, and the sky looked really ominous. Walgreens was the closest thing, so I was like, “I’ll just go there really fast and go home.”
Path to NYU: Originally, I took journalism for three years in high school and was really into it, but when I went to college, I didn’t want to do journalism for four more years. Anthropology seemed interesting; I always loved history and it was kind of an application of history. I wanted to be an archaeologist. But then I kind of changed my mind: I missed journalism, I missed writing, I missed being more in the middle of things. If I went through with anthropology, I’d be a professor working in a museum for the rest of my life, and that’s not the life I wanted. I wanted something fast-paced, so that’s why I decided to go back into it.
The objective: Ideally, my dream job would be the editor-in-chief of a magazine and writing books on the side. My ultimate goal is to write a book. I’m not sure what kind yet, but I think fiction would be fun.
Fashion farce: Last summer, I worked in the fashion section of Town and Country Magazine, so I dealt with the clothes and the fashion closet. I think fashion is cool and very glamorous. I don’t know if I could do that for years and years. So many of the people I interned with knew so much, and I just had no idea. Like, they knew every designer and so many fashion blogs and stuff that I never even paid attention to. And I was like, yeah, I don’t know if I’m quite as into this as they are.
Teen influence: To be honest, the reason I always liked magazines is because I love Elle and Lucky and the really girly ones. I used to love, love, love Seventeen. I still really want to work for Seventeen because I used to be obsessed with it.
Life motto: I have this one quote that I love. It’s so embarrassing; it’s the background of my laptop. It’s by Henry Miller. I don’t even know who that is, but it’s a great quote: “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music — the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”