A University of the First Class: Jane Chesnutt

On the occasion of the Alcalde’s 100th anniversary, we asked Longhorns what “a University of the first class” means to them.

A University of the First Class

Jane Chesnutt

BJ ’73, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna
Former Editor-in-Chief, Woman’s Day

I had no doubt about my major when I went to UT. My father’s family owned a small newspaper, and though it seldom contained anything resembling news, the smell of those presses was in my blood. The bachelor of journalism I ultimately earned clearly did more than a little for me as I got my first job on the basis of it and eventually became the top editor of a major women’s magazine. I’d do it all over again—well, most of it—in a heartbeat. So I should be Exhibit A for those arguing for a much more career-path based approach to higher education. Not at all.

JaneChesnuttI learned the basics of my profession inside the walls of the J School, but it was outside of them, in the incredible richness of what UT offers, that my education became more than just a ticket for a career. I wonder now why I took some of the classes I did, most notably the seminar on 20thcentury thought in which I was so lost I felt sorry for the professor. But these were the classes that introduced me to new ideas and ways of thinking, that challenged me, that broadened my universe in ways I never could have imagined growing up in small-town Texas.

Without those classes, coupled with the extracurricular treasures of UT, especially the Daily Texan), I suspect I’d have been an editor, not an editor-in-chief. I know that my education would have been something much less than the blueprint for an interesting, fulfilling life that it was.

Read more takes on the phrase “a University of the first class” here.

Illustration by Sean McCabe.

 

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