Donor Gift Launches New Speaker Series

The inaugural Sarah Portlock Fellman ‘03 Speaker Series launched this morning at an Upper School assembly with five guests discussing The Past, Present and Future of American Journalism.
The panel of experienced journalists who discussed the state of journalism and the media today included Maura Judkis and Amy Brittain, writers for The Washington Post; Madelyne Ashworth ‘13, writer for; and Stacy Hawkins Adams, Collegiate’s Director of Communications, who previously worked as a reporter with the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Florida Today newspapers. Jasmine Turner Perry ‘11, a reporter for NBC12, moderated the panel.

Mrs. Perry asked a series of questions of the panel, including Why did you pursue journalism as a career? Where do you get your story ideas? How is it working in the age of social media and 24-hour news cycles? and What do you wish someone had told you before you entered the field?

In answer to the final question, Ms. Brittain, an investigative reporter, told the audience that she wished someone had told her that she should trust that her writing was good enough.

“You can do the work at a young age,” she said. “You don’t have to wait.”

Mrs. Perry closed the panel with her answer to the same question.

“Always remember, no matter how hard it gets, it is so much bigger than you,” she said. “It’s about the stories, the people, the truth.”

The speaker series was created through a generous gift from Bill Portlock and Nancy Raybin, Sarah’s parents, to promote journalism and education. As a Collegiate student, Sarah served as a co-editor-in-chief for The Match. She then embarked on a successful journalism career with the Associated Press, Newsday, The Star-Ledger, the Brooklyn Paper and The Wall Street Journal. Sarah was seven months pregnant when she suffered a brain aneurysm on March 31, 2017, and she gave birth to her daughter Aviva. Sarah passed away suddenly on Nov. 6, 2017. Her classmates from the Class of 2003 dedicated a campus garden to her, Sarah's Garden (next to the Reeves Center), during Homecoming weekend in 2018.   

Mr. Portlock and Ms. Raybin expressed their gratitude that this program will continue to keep Sarah’s memory alive.

“This school meant a lot to her,” Mr. Portlock said.

“It’s an honor to see so many of Sarah’s friends and colleagues remember her,” Ms. Raybin said. “It’s great to see how she has continued to mentor and educate others.”
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