Lee Ann Shelton
Breaking News and Breaking Ground
As an undergraduate student at Loyola University Chicago, Lee Ann Shelton, 27, was already winning people over with her strong writing skills and willingness to learn.
After holding multiple internships in not only the journalism field but also in public relations and corporate communication, Shelton quickly learned how to work every angle of the media market and now she works as a breaking news reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I always wanted to make sure that I was using my time to the fullest because college is so short,” Shelton says. “I just wanted to spend the time I could getting out there, getting experience, and making connections with people.”
When she was a senior, Shelton earned the position of Editor-in-Chief for the Loyola Phoenix student newspaper. According to Shelton, Lou Carloza and Robert Herguth, the Phoenix staff advisors at the time, were instrumental in giving her the motivation and confidence she needed to pull through the final stretch of college.
“They both took the time to teach me what they know. They really helped me learn how to fulfill my potential and knowing that they’ve always been in my corner has been priceless,” Shelton says.
In 2010, Shelton graduated from Loyola summa cum laude with degrees in both journalism and international studies. She also minored in Spanish literature and was a member of the honors program.
Shortly after graduation, Shelton landed her first job at the Chicago Sun-Times. After previously holding an internship at the Sun-Times as a Loyola student, Shelton says that she’s very grateful for the experiences her education has given her.
“Jobs don’t magically happen. It’s preparation meets opportunity,” Shelton explains. “The opportunity comes about when you meet the right people and you impress them. That’s when they become your mentors and that’s when they become willing to connect you to greater opportunities.”
Shelton says how for her, each day is a new adventure. As a breaking news reporter, Shelton has covered everything from shootings to lawsuits and from politics to happy endings.
“In my job, there’s always the adrenaline and the thrill of publishing a story first and getting it right and getting details nobody else has,” Shelton says. “But I think breaking news is important because it’s the tip of the iceberg.”
According to Shelton, being poised and organized is always important. As a professional journalist, this Colorado native knows how to balance maturity and sensitivity, even in the face of the most difficult stories.
“Breaking news can be a heavy subject at times but this job has really helped me to get to know the city very well,” Shelton says. “I’ve learned so much about the criminal justice system and various government units in Illinois and it’s helped me become more aware of what’s going on and I feel like a better citizen because of it.”
In the Fall of 2014, Shelton achieved another one of her goals. Due to a last-minute vacancy at Loyola University Chicago, she was able to teach COMM 205: Reporting and Writing Across Platforms. Shelton said initially, the idea of three 50-minute long lectures a week seemed a little unnerving, but the encouragement from the students and her personal growth, made it worth it in the end.
“When my students told me at the end of the semester how much they had grown, and how their writing had improved, it was worth every second of all the work I put into the course,” Shelton said.
When thinking back to her college days in the city, Shelton explains how being a student in Chicago has really prepared her for the real world.
“The emphasis of getting it right in school has served me very well in getting it right in real life,” Shelton says. “Being in such a competitive market, I felt like it was crucial to be where all the jobs and internships are and for me, Chicago is my classroom.”
Shelton hopes that in the future, she’ll be offered more teaching opportunities at Loyola.
“I absolutely hope to teach again in the future!” Shelton said. “I’d love to be back teaching reporting and writing the next time my schedule allows.”