Alumna Spotlight: Kristen Cooper

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For alumna Kristen Maxwell Cooper, journalism skills developed during her time at Parkway West which ultimately led to a decision to major in journalism, leading her to a position as Deputy Editor for People Stylewatch.

“I applied for early admission to the journalism school and did my first internship in NYC after my junior year of college. I could’ve wallpapered my room with the amount of rejection letters I received when I was applying for that first internship, but like my mom told me back then, you only need one yes,” Cooper said.

In the past, Cooper has worked for People Stylewatch as a Staff Editor (Sept. 2011 – May 2013) and a Senior Editor (June 2013 – May 2014).

“I’ve enjoyed the events I’ve been able to attend, the TV experience and all of the amazing people I’ve met — both celebrities I’ve interviewed and amazing colleagues I’ve had the privilege of working with,” Cooper said.

At the core, Cooper’s job consists of writing and reporting the cover story for StyleWatch, which has involved interviewing a lot of celebrities.

“I’ve interviewed Kate Hudson, Gabrielle Union, Nina Dobrev and Lucy Hale just to name a few. I also work with Tim Gunn from Project Runway on the column he does for the magazine, so he’s become a good friend,” Cooper said.“I also run our Celeb Style Council, which is a group of celebs that we interview each month and do fun stories with — those members include Kourtney Kardashian, Sophia Bush and Kelly Rowland, just to name a few. Other celebs include Nicole Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood and others.”

In working with Gunn, Cooper was invited to be on Gunn’s daytime show, The Revolution.

“I had never done TV before, but Tim asked me to come on the show: and you don’t say no to Tim Gunn. It was a defining sink or swim moment that I’ll never forget. It was after that day that I realized how lucky I truly was because I was finally living out my dream,” Cooper said.

Cooper has also created content for MTV, as well as Ralph  Lauren Polo, adding diversity to the web shopping outlet so the company has more than just retail.

“At MTV and Ralph Lauren I worked online. Instead of creating editorial content for a magazine, I created content that lived online. People no longer just shop on a retailer’s website (like Ralph Lauren), they go there for an entire experience and that includes editorial content,” Cooper said.

Originally, Cooper studied journalism at the University of Kansas.

“I’ve always loved to write — that’s really where it all began. As much as I loved the writing and interviewing, I loved seeing the layouts come together, as well. I did start out as a journalism major. I think I was one of those rare students that knew exactly what I wanted to do from day one and it never changed,” Cooper said.

Out of all of her journalistic experience, Cooper attributes her original interest in journalism to her time spent in high school journalism, constructing the PAWESEHI yearbook.

“My career choice was absolutely shaped by my high school yearbook experience, specifically by my yearbook teacher, Mrs. Klevens. I had always known that writing was something I wanted to pursue as a career, but it wasn’t until her yearbook class that I knew that journalism was the way I wanted to go,” Cooper said. “It was even what made me want to be in the magazine industry.”