Meet the President of JCU's Student Newspaper The Matthew, Giulia Leo

Giulia Leo, from Bari, Italy, is a double major in English Literature and Communications. She is the current President of JCU’s student-run newspaper The Matthew. In 2019 Giulia gave the talk “And so we will persist: writing together an equal future” for [email protected] 

How did you get to JCU?
I was very determined to study English Literature in college, however, it was difficult to do so at an Italian university. Therefore, in my junior year of high school, I started looking for universities that offered the degree I was interested in. It didn’t take much time for me to decide I wanted to study at JCU, so I visited the University and applied a year prior to my high school graduation.

Giulia Leo

Giulia Leo

You are the newly-elected President of The Matthew. How did you get involved?
I was always very interested in the student newspaper. During my first semester, I attended the Clubs Fair and spoke to the board of the Matthew. Then, during my second year at JCU, I contacted The Matthew’s Instagram page, saying I was interested in joining the club. The former president, Giorgia Rifaldi, replied to my message and we scheduled a meeting. During her presidency, I worked as a staff writer and occasionally helped with emails and the website. When Giorgia graduated, she suggested that I apply for the position of President, which I hold today.

What are your responsibilities and the biggest challenge you have had to face? What lies ahead for The Matthew?
My roles as President include being a mediator during board meetings, dealing with in-person and online meetings with JCU staff and non-JCU partners, checking in with our advisor, Professor Elizabeth Gutierrez, and reaching out to the community for official announcements. It may sound like a lot, but I always have the support of an amazing group of friends that make up the board of The Matthew. They always come up with new ideas and are willing to help whenever needed.

One of the biggest challenges I have had to face was dealing with my shyness. Since I am a quiet and introverted person, I always thought I was unfit for leadership positions. I remember feeling anxious about the Clubs Fair because I didn’t know if I could convince people of how great it is to be involved in the newspaper. However, that was the first time I proved to myself that I could do it. In the end, more than 25 students showed interest in joining, which was very satisfying for me.

The board of The Matthew is getting bigger, and we currently have 15 members. We hope that we will be able to come up with two issues this semester (one of which will be posted on our website by the end of October) and we are looking forward to organizing different events for the community.

Why did you decide to major in English Literature? 
During high school, I discovered my passion for English Literature thanks to Prof. Antonella Guarini, an amazing English teacher I had in high school. She was very passionate about what she taught, and her standards were very high, so I was constantly encouraged to do better. In a way, it is thanks to her that I am where I am today, studying English Literature and Communications.

She was the one who suggested I applied for a TEDxYouth talk and offered to read my presentation when I was selected for the official TED event. That talk made me realize that I also wanted to study communications together with literature, and eventually pursue a Master’s in Journalism for the Arts.

What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing journalism?
My best advice is not to be scared of rejection and failure and to take any opportunity that life puts in your way. Although it can be scary, make sure to turn that feeling into determination. You don’t have to be an extrovert and have great communication skills to be a journalist or hold a leadership position in the field. All it takes is passion and willpower.

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