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WRC Spotlight

Abby Newcom: Channeling Her Talents

Abby Newcom“Studying rhetoric under professors Scott Whiddon and Gary Deaton taught me the art of persuasion and criticism, as well as the importance of tailoring narratives to a particular demographic—something that is vital for the success of a television show and a broadcast network.”

Abby Newcom ’11 sees nothing unusual about majoring in religion and writing, rhetoric, and communication (WRC) while at Transylvania and now working at MTV.

As an associate producer, she’s learning everything she can about television, video production, and broadcasting. But her ultimate goal is to combine her passion for humanitarian work with her storytelling and filmmaking skills to produce documentaries.

“While most of my work colleagues chose to study television production specifically, I bring a different set of skills to MTV,” explained Newcom. “Eventually I think it will come full circle. I want to make humanitarian documentaries and work in television that bridges the gap between education and entertainment.”

Newcom first found her way to New York City by accepting two summer internships: one with an entertainment marketing company and one with a film production company. After she graduated, the experience she gained in those two positions led to the offer of a job as a production assistant at MTV.

When Newcom started looking at colleges, Transylvania’s liberal arts program caught her attention. She had a variety of interests and recognized that Transylvania would allow her to sample several areas of study. “I was able to dip my toe into journalism, philosophy, anthropology, literature, history, marketing, and sociology before deciding on WRC and religion.”

As a student, she found her professors asked for student feedback on their own projects and respected the students’ opinions. Newcom reviewed chapters of religion professor Paul Jones’s most recent book (“The Church’s Seven Deadly Secrets”) and talked with WRC professor Scott Whiddon about the film he was working on.

Abby Newcom in the Middle East

Newcom was also drawn to Transylvania’s strong study abroad program. She took two May term trips—one to Israel and Egypt and the other to Greece and Turkey—and studied in London for a semester. While on campus, she developed lifelong friendships with her tennis teammates and her sorority sisters. Working with her sorority also developed the leadership skills and the philanthropic interests that continue to shape her career.

All of these experiences helped Newcom feel comfortable forging a career in the nation’s largest city working for a television channel familiar to nearly every American teenager. Her decision to broaden her intellectual pursuits rather than narrow them has paid off.

“In the end I am really proud of how well-rounded my education is.”

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