Journalist alumna recalls eating alpaca, procrastinating in Coates Library, and other Trinity memories
When Miriam Sitz Grebey ’10 isn’t guest writing for the upcoming fall 2018 Trinity magazine, she’s the senior news and web editor for Architectural Record magazine. She double majored in Spanish and environmental studies (an interdisciplinary second major) and minored in geosciences at Trinity, spending time procrastinating in Coates Library, munching on alpaca and piranha when studying abroad, and getting a behind-the-scenes look at Playfair and Bid Day. Read more about Miriam below.
No, I didn’t even consider journalism as a career until several years after undergrad. I wish I had discovered it earlier on!
I spent a lot of time in Coates Library (socializing as much as studying, if I’m being honest). Friends and I always seemed to coalesce there. The third floor couches near the big staircase, for instance, were prime real estate for engaging in thinly veiled procrastination. But there were also so many other special, tucked-away places, like that screening room at the front of the building, behind the circulation desk—I watched a lot of films in Spanish for classes in there—or the rare books room, which was so alluring because of its limited hours and fancy old furniture.
Senior year, when I was involved with both Residential Life and Greek life, I really loved being on the other side of Playfair and Bid Day. Both events can be kind of overwhelming the first time you participate, but when you’re helping run the show, as Res Life staff or an active member of a club, you really get to revel in how delightfully unhinged it all is.
That’s tough…I can say that I loved every geoscience class I took, especially those with Tom Gardner, Glenn Kroeger, Les Bleamaster, and Diane Smith (whose Earth Materials course, I think it was, absolutely kicked my butt). Environmental Econ with Rich Butler helped me understand so much, in broad strokes, about how the world works. All my Latin American culture and film classes with Bladimir Ruiz were vital—his influence steered me toward South America for study abroad, which remains one of the best, most formative experiences of my life. But on a day-to-day basis, I probably impress my friends and colleagues the most using tricks I learned as a Computer Skills TA for Ruth Jungman. Can’t figure out that mail merge for your wedding invitations? Here, allow me. Need a GIF made…using PowerPoint? I’m your girl.
Choose your own adventure. It’s a small school, but it’s so easy to craft your own totally unique experience.
And that, to me, feels related to my two-pronged advice to people just starting college: Study abroad, and don’t let any one thing be the only thing that defines you. The first half is self-explanatory, and the second half means that you should take classes outside of your major, meet people from different backgrounds than you, don’t let one activity—Greek Life, Res Life, music, sports, etc.—be the only thing you’re involved in, and so on.
Everyone is so connected to everyone else in San Antonio. You live there for just a little while and find that you’re only one or two steps, max, removed from any given person. I sometimes miss that close-knit network—although, the anonymity that comes with living New York can also be really appealing.
The strangest food I’ve eaten actually goes back to my Trinity days. While studying abroad in Peru, I ate alpaca, piranha, and cuy (guinea pig), which pretty much tastes like dark-meat chicken.
In 2016, I covered a short-term housing project in Malawi, where expectant mothers from remote areas can temporarily live during the last few weeks of their pregnancies. For women whose homes might be located a day’s travel (or more) from the nearest health care facility, this “maternity waiting village,” as they called it, which is located just next door to a hospital, provides a safe and dignified place for them to stay, with ready access to medical professionals should they need it. It’s already made a measurable difference on mortality rates in the area.
This project really opened my eyes to all the ways the built environment can and should have a profound impact on human lives. Architecture can and should be functional, beautiful, economical, respectful to its context and the local culture, and most of all, sensitive to the needs of its users. Covering the maternity waiting village really drove that home for me.
I recently turned on Twitter notifications for the account “Thoughts of Dog” (@dog_feelings), which has proven to be an essential act of self-care and an endless source of joy. Most Twitter accounts I follow are journalists, politicians, and news organizations, meaning my feed is a dire digital hellscape. Getting alerts about tweets from the mind of a dog (for example: “i had a long talk. with my fren. about how to spot. a fake ball throw. the optimal strategy. is to follow the ball. with your eyes. instead of your heart”) has significantly improved my experience in the app and life in general.