A Q&A with Fulbright College Alumna Zoë Rom
Writer and Journalist, 2012 Graduate of the Department of English
In this conversation, Rom talks about launching a new podcast with Trail Runner Magazine, the importance of engaging in the college experience, and how her studies in environmental literature led her to an amazing, adventurous career as a journalist who has covered everything from sled dog racing in Alaska, to mineral extraction in Arctic Norway and endurance running in Colorado.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your career, what you studied in college, and how the two relate to one another?
I studied English literature with a focus on environmental literature.
My studies inform so much of the work I do now as a writer and editor. I’ve covered everything from sled dog racing in Alaska, mineral extraction in Arctic Norway and the relationship between molybdenum mining and endurance running in rural Colorado.
Every story has a human element meshed in an environmental narrative. Studying the work of other environmental writers as an undergrad taught me so much about storytelling and empathy for setting and subject.
Q: What have been one or two of the most interesting or exciting accomplishments for you in your career or life post-college?
I received an assistantship through the Center for Environmental Journalism to study at the University of Colorado Boulder, and had the chance to dive deep into my love for environmental science and writing.
I worked for a year at Aspen Public Radio, where my work was featured multiple times on NPR and won an award for “Best Feature Story” from the Colorado Broadcasters Association. One was for a story about avalanches, the other was a story about rodeos.
I took two classes that I really loved. One was on creative non-fiction with Dr. Sidney Burris. His lessons and reading list made me fall in love with non-fiction as a genre and influenced my decision to study journalism in graduate school. I still re-read books from that class.
I also took Eco Poetics with Dr. Sean Dempsey, which had a profound effect on my post-grad career. That class solidified my desire to pursue a career in environmental writing and gave me a new way to engage with the natural world.
Dr. Dempsey’s lectures and reading list helped me merge my passion for the outdoors with my love of literature and dissolved any disconnect between my love for academia and for outdoor adventure.
Q: Now that you’ve achieved so much in your career, what advice would you give to students?
Engage! Your professors and peers are your best resources. Ask as many questions as they’ll tolerate.
Go to movie nights at the student union with your friends. Take classes just for fun or because they sound interesting.
Read things you don’t think you’ll like. Join a club. Learn a new skill. Start a trivia team.
When I’m not writing or reading, I’m running!
I’m a competitive ultrarunner and exploring my backyard in Colorado on foot in the summers, and on skis in the winter is my favorite thing.
I’m currently based in Carbondale, near the Elks Range which gives me plenty of opportunity for running, mountaineering, and ski-mountaineering depending on the season.
I also love making pizza.
Q: What’s up next on the horizon for you?
I’m launching a podcast with Trail Runner Magazine that focuses on how to reframe failure in athletic competition and life.
I love being able to talk with people about what they’ve learned in some of their most vulnerable moments.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or let readers know?
There’s nothing you can’t do with an English degree!
Mine has taken me on the most incredible adventures – from snow biking in North Dakota, to whale-watching on a Norwegian fjord, alpaca-racing in Colorado, and racing on foot from Switzerland to France.