Black History Month Alumna Interview: Paige Travis '10

Black History Month Alumna Interview: Paige Travis '10

In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating our Black alumnae women who have been the voices and changemakers in our community.

“When you say lifetime advantage, it really resonates with me.”

Paige Travis, class of 2010, is a prime example of the lifetime advantage gained at McAuley in action.

Paige served as the Student Council President and guided McAuley with her leadership and spirit. During her senior year, she was awarded the Catherine McAuley Award because of her dedication and service to McAuley and the community. This award is the highest honor for McAuley students, faculty, and staff because the awardees embody the life and legacy of our foundress, Catherine McAuley.

After graduating from McAuley, she went on to study Journalism at the University of Missouri.

Paige shared, “I (currently) work in communications and politics, and I just fell in love with writing and communications while in English classes at McAuley…McAuley had a lot to do with my career field, and I didn’t realize it until after graduating college.”

Immediately after college, Paige started her career working for NBC News. She has since helped launch and manage media outreach for the Obama administration's rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the grand opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and 51 for 51 DC Statehood Coalition.

During the 2020 presidential election, Paige served as an Ad Writer for the Biden-Harris campaign. She has also served as Senior Communications Manager during the 2018 midterm elections with Color of Change PAC.

Paige resides in New York City and works as a political campaign strategist and publicist.

Treazure Edwards ‘23, a member of our Black Student Union, conducted an interview with Paige.

Watch Part of the Interview

What is a skill set you have gained from McAuley?

I still feel very connected to Mother McAuley, I feel connected to the brand and the community. I think when you say “lifetime advantage” it really resonates with me. I feel so prepared after graduating from high school, not only from the books but understanding how to stand up for myself as a woman and to not be ashamed of who I was.

What is your favorite memory from Mother McAuley?

“I have so many good memories from Mother McAuley. My mom went to McAuley so we have a bit of legacy and history. I remember walking down the halls and thinking ‘wow there are so many amazing women who graduated from here’ that I know from my immediate family and my aunts. It really felt like a sisterhood everyday - I definitely miss that. The pep rallies were awesome, there was so much school spirit. I think the cool thing is that it doesn’t matter what part of the city you come from or your socioeconomic status - we all do come together at school and you do learn to meet people from different walks of life at McAuley which is really amazing.

Since I graduated from there, I think there is a bit more diversity at McAuley which is great to see. We did not have a Black Student Union, so I know you guys are up to great things.”

What is one piece of advice that you would give a McAuley student that is going to college or looking at colleges?

“My advice would be to talk to your fellow classmates or bounce ideas off of your fellow classmates. There might not be something or program on your radar that others may know of. It is great to build community when thinking about what you want to do next or thinking about what options are out there. Apply for scholarships definitely. There are so many scholarships out there that are from Universities or also relate to being a person of color. There are so many opportunities out there. If you are graduating from McAuley I am sure that your grades are competitive enough to get you some of the scholarships. Take the risk, take the leap of faith to apply to as many scholarships that you qualify for.

Trust yourself too. It does not have to be the right answer right away when you go off to college. Trust yourself and go with the flow the first year or two. Even with me, my career has changed so much in the last ten years. So trust yourself and know it is a process.”

What is one piece of advice you would give your past self?

“Don't be so hard on yourself. Especially being a woman there is so much pressure it seems from the outside world and if you want to be a woman with a good moral compass and mindful of how she moves in this world - it is very easy to be hard on yourself. If you are putting in the work and do trust yourself, things do work out in the end. Have a good balance of hard work and enjoying the fruit of your labor.

To all the seniors, have fun!"

What is something to help you find a good work / life balance?

“Within the work environment is building relationships with people, going out to dinner and being social with folks you interact with. Relationships are so important in the world of media and politics - it does not have to be so rigid and serious. The stakes are high, but we are also human. Make time to make relationships that are authentic.

On a more personal level, traveling. It is so nice now that we can just hop on a plane and fly anywhere in the world where we want to. Also, take a road trip. Sometimes getting out of your circle and headspace and seeing what is out there in the world can spark fun and creative ideas and give you a chance to take a deep breath.”

Is there a project in your career that surprised you?

“You need balance - life can change in an instant. Because we are talking about Black History Month, something really cool that I was not expecting was when I was living in Washington, D.C.  the African American Smithsonian was launching. I got there a year or two before it opened. I moved there wanting to work in politics and to get my feet wet. Luckily there were some folks from Chicago who were working with the Obama Administration. I got a call a year later looking for help with press and media to the launch of the Smithsonian. Going to journalism school I had a lot of friends that were Black and had the opportunity to be the first ones through the door to tell the stories from their experiences of what it should look like for our community.”

If you could have one superpower what would it be?

“One superpower would be to transport. It would be awesome to be back home with my family now and then. It would be so cool to check in on your loved ones when you can’t be there.”

How has Covid affected your day to day life?

“On a positive note, Covid has taught us all to slow down a bit and take things in stride. It shows us how fragile life can be. I have really made an effort to take a moment to call and check in on loved ones. At the end of the day, all you have is family. Whether it is friends or your blood. It showed me to slow down and prioritize. The love you have around you keeps you stable when everything else is uncertain and unclear - what is clear is your loved ones by your side.”

How do you accept constructive criticism?

“It goes back to not being so hard on yourself. Especially working in media and politics, everyone has an opinion. It is good to have discernment. If you know yourself and know your gut, understand when someone is giving you constructive criticism or when you may not be in alignment with someone else or their vision - that’s okay too. As long as you know yourself and feel good about what you are doing. But you do have to take a moment and take constructive criticism too, it is just a part of growth. As you grow, as you learn, and as you mature in your career you are going to make mistakes. It is just a part of the process. Try not to take it too personally and take it as it comes - use that discernment to see where you need to shift and where you need to stand your ground. With politics there is a lot of that and you learn very quickly that it is important to know yourself.”

Did you ever have moments of doubt in college about your path in life?

"Yeah, of course. I remember like it was yesterday and there were a lot of decisions to make in a short amount of time. Ultimately, just know you will make the best decision for you. Your plan is your plan. God and the universe may have something else. Go with it if it feels right, and shift and adjust. The cool thing is at 17 or 18 you are so young and you have so much time to figure out who you are and what you want. It goes back to trusting your gut.”

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