Gillian Russo started writing creatively at age 7. Later on, she realized that she didn’t want to write creatively as a career, but her interest in writing remained. After taking several journalism classes in high school, Gillian found the missing piece to her career puzzle. Performance and dance have also been a part of her life, so she combined these two loves at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus with a major in journalism and a minor in theater.
“My lifelong passions drew me to my fields of study,” Gillian said. “I was eager to find a way to make a living out of them. Ideally, I’d love to be a theatre/entertainment journalist and combine my two areas of interest into one career!”
At Fordham, Gillian is the Arts & Culture Editor on “The Observer” and is also a co-editor for the newspaper’s newsletter. As a member of the Fordham Dance Team, Gillian performs at home football games and both the men’s and women’s basketball games. She is also in the university’s academic honors program.
With her fields of study, Gillian wants to feel “happy, engaged, and fulfilled in her life’s work.” But on a community level, she hopes to uplift people. “I hope my degree will allow me the opportunity to tell people’s stories and tell them right — that’s what I want to learn, and the impact I hope to make,” Gillian said. “Regardless of who or what I end up writing about in my career, I see myself giving voice to important people and their work. As I see it, the way a journalist makes a difference is by highlighting the stories of people who are doing the same.”
Gillian is keeping her options after her 2021 graduation wide open. Pursuing a master’s degree is a possibility, but that depends on her job prospects and whatever opportunities present themselves at that time.
As someone who dislikes sitting in the dorm, Manhattan is the perfect place for someone like Gillian who loves to spend time with friends, take dance and zumba classes, write poetry, and read, and attend events. You will likely find her in a theater seeing a show.
Trying to think of something that could be defined as “the craziest thing she’s ever done” made Gillian feel as though she needs to step out of her comfort zone more often. However, she did “sneak” into an Ed Sheeran concert once with her mom. Sheeran was appearing on one of the Today Show’s free concert series, and the pair rose a 5 a.m. but found that the line was already six blocks long. After several hours, they were told to leave because there was no more space, but they didn’t want to give up that easily. Gillian and her mother found a blocked-off entrance to a nearby sidewalk and they convinced an NYPD officer that they were staying in a hotel on that block — and it worked! They got through, got in, and had a clear view of Sheeran’s performance. She credits this experience with making her bold and willing to do just about anything to participate in one-in-a-lifetime events, or even just to get something cheap or free.
Gillian’s professional interest in Writing Wrongs 2019 is to learn more about service journalism and to take away a better understanding of how to present LGBT-focused stories to the Fordham community. But her interest is also equality-oriented:
“This year’s focus on LGBTQ+ issues is timely now more than ever. There have been positive developments, such as the first legalization of gay marriage in an Asian country by Taiwan … and the passage of the Equality Act in the House of Representatives. There have also been negatives, such as the Trump administration’s October talks of narrowing the legal definition of gender to exclude transgender people, and the exclusion of transgender people from the military. Both these triumphs and these continued struggles need to continue to be told by journalists to raise awareness about the progress made but also how far there is to go in securing equal rights. I see in this program an opportunity to hear both kinds of stories and be part of the effort to make them known.”