Lex Weaver is a first year Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Graduate Fellow studying Journalism in Northeastern University’s College of Arts, Media and Design. Lex joins Northeastern’s School of Journalism with an impressive portfolio of projects and experiences, including an academic work about how India addresses gender and sexuality, a service trip to South Africa, and more. They were recently featured on the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute’s website here, and we had the chance to catch up with them and learn more about what they’re looking forward to at Northeastern, and how past experiences will set them up for success here in Boston.
What are you most looking forward to at Northeastern?
If I were to talk about my expectations and what I hope for at Northeastern, it’s a fresh start. I took a year off of school between undergrad and now; I wanted to rediscover and reinvent myself. As an undergrad, I was very involved; I was a very big student leader, I was all over the place, I was on every club committee. So as a grad student, I kind of wanted to just reinvent myself. I like being busy, and I like being that person, but I wanted to just take a step back and really focus on my craft, because I’m working towards building my career. In my master’s program, which is more specified than what you study in undergraduate, I’m most looking forward to developing more as a professional, and just generally as well.
What attracted me to this program specifically is that it puts everyone on the same level. I did not want to be competing with my peers; I feel like there’s a lot of one-upping and ‘I did this, I did that,’ and I don’t want to be in that kind of environment. That’s not the kind of person I am – I don’t care to compete against others. I think it’s awesome to challenge yourself and challenge others to be the best that they can be, but I don’t personally care to compete. So at Northeastern, it doesn’t matter what level you’re on with experience, everyone pretty much treats you the same.
The environment of Northeastern is really awesome and nurturing; I feel like the professors and faculty and staff are really working to groom you as an individual. I also like that you can build what you want to do; here, you can grow and develop as yourself, but still collaborate and work amongst your peers. What I’m most looking forward to is continuing to learn and grow as a journalist professionally. I think a lot of my work in journalism and writing or copyediting has either been self-taught or stylized, so I really want to learn to be more formal and more refined.
What type of journalistic piece is your favorite to write?
I do have an art history background as well as journalism, so I really like incorporating art into my work. I want to be an arts and culture reporter with ties to literary criticism, and I do a lot of opinion writing – I think that’s my strong suit. I also really like reporting on race and ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality, and sometimes I also like to write about higher education (but my goal is to relate it back to race or gender, or something like that).
I’m a very passionate person – back home I’m known as an activist and organizer because I really believe in causes.
For me, being a journalist is not just about telling a story, it’s about investing myself. Quick stories don’t interest me; I like to spend time and build up a story, fully immersing myself. That’s why I wanted to take a journalism course abroad as an undergraduate student. We spent time learning about India, and then we went there for two weeks, exploring the ‘Golden Triangle,’ which consists of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. The end goal was a magazine-style article, and writing it, I really got to spend time with people and understand the culture. I’m planning on going back, and it inspired some of my family members to move there after my trip.
That’s the kind of person I am, I like to delve in. The fact that you can do that as a journalist is exciting.
Tell us about your work and experiences abroad!
I traveled to India (more here) in the spring of 2017 to study abroad. Initially, I wanted to spend my trip writing about the art and architecture there. However, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which has since been ruled unconstitutional, caught my attention and led to Queer India piece. Learning about that was interesting and it made me rally for a cause too, and I got really invested in it. I ultimately focused on LGBT life in general, including the attitude of and towards it in that country. I want to continue working on the article and do some follow-up; I am interested in going back and seeing how life has been since they overturned Section 377.
In my undergrad, I was also fortunate enough to get a scholarship to go to South Africa, which was awesome. I mostly did community service, but we also had to write an academic paper on our experience. We went to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and then Kruger National Park.
In your work, you’ve served as both a journalist and editor. Do you have a preference?
I’ve done both sides and they are both demanding. As a journalist, I get a little bit more freedom because I can build the story how I want. I’m a creative person, and I like thinking, doing, and being active, so I would say that journalism gives me that freedom a little more. However, my comfort zone is being an editor, which I have more experience with. When all is said and done, I enjoy both equally, but it depends on the day; some days I’m feeling more creative, and other days I’m a little bit more technical. Career wise, I will likely to end up doing both.