Alumni Spotlight: Fortune managing editor Holly Ojalvo ’92 on the world of journalism

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Holly Ojalvo ’92, the current managing editor at Fortune, has worked as an English teacher and at The New York Times. (Photo courtesy of Holly Ojalvo ’92)

Holly Ojalvo ’92 has defined her academic and professional career by taking risks.

Ojalvo has always had a passion for journalism and uncovering the truth; during her time at Lafayette, she co-founded an alternative to The Lafayette student newspaper called The Vid. Now, she is the managing editor of the business magazine Fortune.

The Vid, which provided the Lafayette community with an alternative view to the ones presented in The Lafayette, included articles about arts, culture, politics and life.

“I became known at the time on campus for doing some investigations into the way the college was doing certain things and even ended up leading a sit-in related to plans the college had,” Ojalvo said. “It was pretty intense and pretty exciting at the time.”

The New York Times covered the event but Ojalvo decided not to talk to the paper, as she didn’t want credit for the sit-in. “I was just excited that it happened and being able to write about it for The Vid,” she said.

“We really learned journalism as we were doing it,” Ojalvo said of her experience running The Vid. “There’s so much we learned accidentally that we didn’t even see coming.”

Ojalvo earned two master’s degrees after leaving Lafayette: an M.A. in English from the University of Delaware and an M.A. in English education from New York University. Her subsequent job as an English teacher allowed her to use some of the knowledge she gained from her time at The Vid.

“I was an English teacher for about 10 years,” Ojalvo said. “I took that experience I had on The Vid and I did a lot with student publications, which is a real passion of mine.”

Despite her love of teaching and helping with student publications, Ojalvo decided to pursue a full-time career in journalism. After working as an editor for The New York Times for several years, Ojalvo once again took a risk and set out to create her own start-up company: Kicker, a media platform meant to engage a college-aged demographic with the news.

“I saw a lot of evidence, especially being a teacher, that young people were really interested in news, but the way that news was being delivered at the time wasn’t necessarily really resonating with them,” Ojalvo explained.

Kicker and Ojalvo caught the attention of USA Today, leading Ojalvo to eventually sunset, or phase out, Kicker as a company and join USA Today as editorial director of their college news.

Today, Ojalvo works at Fortune as the managing editor, running administrative tasks at their global newsroom. She handles potential staffing issues, hiring, onboarding, performance reviews, budgets, contracts, professional development and internship programs.

“It’s never a dull day,” Ojalvo said. “A million [things] can be happening any day.”

Ojalvo’s unique career path provided a life she never expected while living on Lafayette’s campus.

“I guess I’m someone who always wants a challenge. I mean, most people don’t leave plum jobs like I’ve had,” Ojalvo said. “When I was teaching, I was a tenured teacher at arguably the best high school in New York City, and I left that job. I left The New York Times … A lot of people would look at that and think that’s nuts, that’s crazy. Those are jobs that people dream of [and] that I dreamed of myself … but to always be pushing yourself to learn something new, to try something new, I guess that’s something of how I’m built, and I’ve learned a lot.”

Ojalvo’s advice to those moving on from Lafayette reflects her own career journey.

“You don’t have to know what you’re going to do with your life writ large,” Ojalvo said. “You can try something on for size and figure it out, and even if it doesn’t end up what you really want to be doing, you’re probably going to learn a lot about your skills and what you do want to be doing, and it will be a learning experience no matter what.”