Great Grad: Victoria Stewart, Journalism | College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
May 10, 2023

Great Grad: Victoria Stewart, Journalism

Tori Stewart always had a passion for writing ever since she could remember. From songwriting to poetry, her voice on paper has been a steadfast companion along her journey to the person she is today. As she prepares for her future after commencement, she reflects on the importance of identity and connection in her life, especially during her time in college.

"My love for writing evolved into journalism when I was on the yearbook staff in high school. I found that I had a love for stories, for what set people apart, where they came from and what made them who they are," she says.

Originally from Rockwall, Tori visited only one other college aside from UNT. When she arrived on campus, the culture and diverse community population made it a no-brainer for her.

"I wanted to go somewhere I could grow and experience all sorts of viewpoints and ideas, and where I could continue to lean in on my own uniqueness."

Her passion for journalism morphed into an interest in social media. Tori held an internship as student chief executive officer and senior client manager at Agenz PR, a student-managed public relations firm where she planned and filmed short video format content for UNT at Frisco.

Rebecca Poynter, a professor in the Mayborn School of Journalism, is a faculty advisor with the firm and was pivotal in her professional and academic success.

"I took some of my hardest courses from Professor Poynter, but she made us better writers. I'm forever thankful for the professional experiences I've received from her," she says.

Tori is driven and passionate about what she does, and she's stayed true to her identity along the way. Longing to find an organization where she could connect with other Black women on campus, she, along with student Jordan Gus, co-founded the Living Learning Community, BEAUTIFUL Eagles (Black women Encouraging each other And Utilizing Their Individuality For University Leadership). Living Learning Communities group people together with common cultures or interests so they can live and learn as a cohort. The BEAUTIFUL Eagles cohort, founded in Maple Hall, looks to build a solid foundation for academic and social success for Black women. They hope to empower everyone toward their own personal aspirations, at UNT and beyond.

Tori also is director of outreach for the National Association of Black Journalists and has been active in Delight Ministries, a Christian community of women at UNT.

But she isn't just involved as a student. Tori is currently a student assistant in the Office of the President, where she focuses on optimizing and growing social media presence for President Neal Smatresk. She's worked other places on campus, too: the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs as an Orientation Leader, a First Flight Leader and an ACCESS peer mentor.

"It was like my second family there (the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs). The culture was amazing and I was able to network and connect with so many people who encouraged me and helped me to start BEAUTIFUL Eagles. I'm proud of that - we created something that was needed and that we didn't have when I first came to UNT," she says.

It was in the Office of Orientation and Transition Programs where she was encouraged to pursue academic advising and connected with Eric Green, a journalism career coach in the Career Center.

"Eric's energy is contagious," Tori says. "He's amazing. He wants you to succeed."

When she reflects on what has made her successful in her college career at UNT, she smiles and quickly answers, "1000% connecting with people. Networking has allowed for me to develop professionally and personally at UNT. When you realize you need people to encourage you, point you in the right direction and help when you experience challenges, that's when real growth happens."

Tori has a 3-year-old niece and often thinks about what advice she might give her as she grows up. "Always keep an open mind. Allow yourself to do what you never thought you could. Be willing to do things you're afraid of."