This week we’re catching up with Marie Solis, a 2015 Vassar graduate and an alum of The Miscellany News! While at Vassar, Marie was an English major with a Hispanic studies correlate, served as Editor in Chief of the Miscellany and danced with FlyPeople and Vass Shakers.
Q: What’s going on with you now?
A: I’m living in Brooklyn and right now, I’m a staff writer at Mic for the news team. It’s exciting! I’ve been working there since November and I’ve almost been there a year now. I cover trending news. So basically any big news story you see on a given day that everybody is talking about on Twitter or Facebook is something that I’m writing about or that someone on my team is writing about. I usually write a few trending stories a day and then every week or so we have a pitch meeting where I pitch longer originally-reported ideas. I work on those when I’m not working on quick trending stories.
Q: What do you do for the longer articles?
A: I usually pitch articles that have to do with feminist issues and a lot of the articles that I’m most proud of are about issues like campus assault.
One article I wrote was about this woman who wanted to find a better mechanic because she was tired of being ripped off by men … She actually went back to school and decided to become a mechanic herself. She’s opening her own autobody shop! That was a fun story and I got to go to Philly where her workshop is and I got to talk to her.
I like to write a lot about feminist issues, but I usually try to find the hope in the story … I like to write about people who create art about feminism, or who take their experiences and turn it into something more positive.
Q: How do you like Mic?
A: I really like it there! It’s a young newsroom…so it’s a really fun atmosphere. All my co-workers are super supportive and we help each other and collaborate a lot. I have a really good relationship with all of my coworkers and editors.
Also, I think Mic was a really great next step from Vassar. I was applying to all these writing jobs and really wanted to be able to not write only straight, “objective” news. Mic is definitely still objective in important ways, it definitely covers straight news. But it also really has a voice and a specific perspective. It’s not just specific to our generation but also a certain niche of our generation that is socially conscious cares about bringing marginalized voices to the center and wants to offer an alternative narrative that the mainstream news isn’t telling. It’s really fun to work at Mic because, even though we all have different politics, when I’m writing a story about sexism I know that everyone in the office understands … It’s good to have that as a starting point. The people who read Mic have that same starting point as well.
Q: How do you feel your time at Vassar has affected what you’re doing now?
A: I think that this is going to sound really corny and straight out of a brochure but it’s really true. I think that critical thinking is really valuable at my job. Say, for example, that everyone is really excited about this one topic in the mainstream media. I have the ability to read that story from, say, CNN or the New York Times. I can say, “Wait a minute. There’s something here that we’re not talking about. There are voices here that aren’t being heard. There are other ways of thinking about this issue that no one is talking about.”
I think that Vassar really challenged me to think about things critically. I think that’s really valuable at a place like Mic for example. At Mic we’re giving an alternative narrative, our own take and perspective. I feel like I have something specific I can bring to the table.
One of the first big stories I wrote was the week I started working there. That was the week that the Secretary of Defense announced that all combat positions would be open to women. Obviously that seems like a major win for women, that women have the ability to do the same things that men do and fight for their country.
But it reminded me of my feminist theory class, and I remember having a discussion whether women should be drafted and be able to occupy all positions in the military. We had a conversation about why women might not always want to do the same things men do and that war is an inherently patriarchal institution. I ended up writing an article that talked about the feminists who don’t want women in the military. I interviewed a lot of activists who talked about the colonialist and materialist implications of having a larger military body.
I think because Mic is very socially conscious and politically minded as an organization, being able to take a lot of women’s studies classes and Hispanic studies classes, and being able to engage in a lot of conversations with my friends and my classmates who were so smart and politically minded that it just really helped me after graduation and in my job.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for current Vassar students?
A: I have some advice specifically for seniors. I stressed a lot about jobs senior year and it seems like everyone is getting a job and it seems like you need to start applying to jobs right away, almost as soon as you move onto campus senior year. But don’t freak out. Sadly, a lot of how you find a job is to have good luck, to meet the right person or be in the right place at the right time. It can be terrible but it will be okay. It will work out as long as you are ambitious and you really care about what you want to do … People might ask you, “Why do you have an English degree, or a philosophy degree, or a history degree? What are you going to do with that?” Don’t listen to those people. You will do great things if you want to do great things.”