TWU's Gaudet follows passion toward career

Amber Gaudet

July 18, 2023 – DENTON – Amber Gaudet knows the hunger.

It is the creative joy of writing, as powerful as any drug and as sustaining as food or water but on a deeper, more intense level.

It is the passion to be a storyteller.

"I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't know exactly what that looked like," Gaudet said.

She's figuring it out quickly. Gaudet graduated from Texas Woman's University with a bachelor's degree in English literature, is pursuing a master's degree through the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism, and is already a working journalist for the Denton Record-Chronicle.

"I definitely have that idealism," Gaudet said. "My ultimate dream is to be an investigative reporter, and I've gotten to do some investigative work at DRC, which has been great. But it's a lot more challenging to land a full-time investigative gig."

Her journey toward professional writing began at TWU, where she flourished in the English department, eventually becoming president of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta.

"I really enjoyed my time at TW," Gaudet said. "The English department is really tightknit, which was great. The classes are smaller. I take classes at UNT now for my grad degree and it’s definitely different atmosphere. The classes at TW are more intimate, smaller, and I feel like the departments are more tightknit, which is nice."

In her sophomore year, Gaudet joined the TWU student newspaper, The Lasso.

"I just got really into that," she said. "I guess I caught the reporting bug. So I ended up staying there for three years. I was editor for two years, and that was a really great experience."

Gaudet then took advantage of one of the many partnerships between TWU and UNT.

"If you're an English major, you can minor in journalism through UNT," she said. "You basically take journalism classes at UNT, but you still graduate from TW. I started doing those classes around the time I started at the student newspaper at TW, and I guess once I started learning more about it and once I started doing it while I was at the paper, I just got really into it.

"I really liked talking to people," she added. "I'm a big nerd, and I think in journalism you get to learn about all these different subjects. You get to talk to all these different people that you wouldn't normally, and so every day is different, every story is different, and I really like that. It's kind of corny, but I do believe in journalism. I believe it's important for democracy. It gave me a chance to write, obviously, and just tell other people's stories, which I always found really interesting. There's so many things I've learned through being a journalist that I wouldn't have learned any other way just from talking to different people. I guess there's a lot of things I like about it."

Gaudet hasn't waited to finish her education to start her career, landing an internship with the Record-Chronicle.

"I just knew that if I wanted to go into journalism, I had to have experience," Gaudet said. "That's really what they look for, is for you to have experience. When I was at The Lasso, the student newspaper, I had already had a couple of pieces picked up by the DRC, and so I had a little bit of a connection already, and I knew I wanted to intern there, so I applied. And I interviewed with the editor at the time and since I had already been published there, I got hired for a summer internship in 2020. It went really great, and I stayed on as a freelancer. In spring, 2021, they hired me part time as the business reporter, and I've been there since."

She's also written for The Dallas Observer and the North Texas Daily. She has piled up awards from the Texas Managing Editors Association for business reporting, investigative reporting and specialty reporting, and from the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association for breaking news, design and overall excellence for the literary magazine The Daedalian, headline writing, critical review, in-depth reporting and page layout.

Add to her list of accomplishments the Mayborn scholarship, the Clarice Mixon Turner scholarship, the Urban Fellows scholarship, the Glenda Brock Simmons Leadership scholarship and repeated appearances on the TWU Chancellor's List and Dean's List.

It's an impressive resume for one just getting started.

The problem is, journalists typically make less than teachers, and the diminishing world of newspapers is forcing journalists to make hard decisions.

"This has really been something that I've been really passionate about for the past few years," Gaudet said. "I was set on doing journalism and only journalism. I think to some extent I definitely still like it and believe in it, but practically it's just really hard to be in the industry."

Those outcomes are difficult, not just for writers but for society. It's no accident that civilizations came about after the development of writing, which allowed for communication of ideas and administration of large populations.

Without competent writers, there are no movies, TV shows, plays, books, magazines, newspapers, comic books, graphic novels, poetry or music. The shrinking corner of the internet wherein lies a modicum of intelligence is consumed by click-bait and cat videos.

Except that without competent writers, there is no internet. No computers and precious little science, engineering or medicine because learning grinds to a halt. No journals, user manuals or textbooks, no one to communicate complicated technical information. Without writers, knowledge is either passed on as spoken word or passes into oblivion.

And those writers are a rare commodity. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, professional writers make up just .03% of the population, and English departments like TWU's are critical for developing their skills and opening up avenues for their employment.

"I would love to be able to stay in journalism in a way that works for me," Gaudet said. "Maybe that's remote editing or something like that. I could see myself doing maybe freelance, content editing or content marketing or even tutoring, like English tutoring, because when I was at TW, I did peer tutoring there, which I really liked. We'll see."

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Page last updated 3:43 PM, July 31, 2023