Scott Wallace interviewing explorer and indigenous-rights activist Sydney Possuelo while on assignment for National Geographic in the depths of the Brazilian rainforest, 2002.
I remember so clearly how much it meant to me to hear the stories my journalism professors told of their lives on the job, how it motivated me to get out there and file stories of my own. One such professor worked on the sports desk at the Milwaukee Sentinel. I have him to thank for my student job on the copy desk there, which felt heady at the time, despite being mostly a matter of taking bowling scores over the phone from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (people in Milwaukee get really excited about bowling scores).
The students who have worked with us at this magazine describe similar motivation from UConn professors, among them Scott Wallace — whose writing, photography, and videography on the environment, vanishing cultures, and places of conflict across the globe have appeared everywhere from CBS News, The Guardian, and The New York Times to Harper’s, Vanity Fair, and National Geographic.
Camila Vallejo ’19 (CLAS), one of those students who used to work for us and who graduated to NPR, found Wallace an especially inspirational and effective journalism professor. “He focused less on giving you assignments just to fulfill a syllabus and more on improving your writing with every draft,” she says. “As a seasoned features writer and war correspondent, he highlighted the good as well as the raw truth behind being a reporter — the adrenaline, the trauma, and more.”
It’s clear what Wallace brings to his students. In turn, he says, they remind him how much the profession of journalism matters.
“I see the enthusiasm with which they do their assignments and their work. The questions they raise and the topics they decide to tackle are really surprising, really innovative. These students are not empty vessels that you’re trying to fill; they come with lots of ideas and enthusiasm.” Wallace also is a 2020–21 fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute and a faculty affiliate of El Instituto: UConn’s Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.
Read his Fall 2020 feature here.
Photo by Nicholas Reynard