UMSL student Ciera Simril has been an intern at The St. Louis American newspaper since August. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Always carry a notepad and pen and wear comfortable shoes. Those are some tips Ciera Simril has picked up during her time as an intern at The St. Louis American, a publication targeting African Americans in the St. Louis region.

Simril, a senior communication major at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has been at the paper since August. Initially, she was assigned stories, but over time she was given the opportunity to pick her own reporting assignments. She’s reported on everything from a college scholarship recipient to a visiting culinary celebrity. And she’s penned her own opinion pieces.

“I was like ‘Oh my God! What did I get into?” she said with a laugh. “I really got thrown in head first. I didn’t want to turn down any assignments. I felt like all of the experience would make me a better writer.”

Simril spends about 10 hours a week at The St. Louis American, as well as some weekend work. She juggles multiple stories, and her hard work has quickly earned the respect of the newspaper’s editorial director Chris King.

“Ciera has worked really hard for us, doing boring but necessary things like typing up handwritten letters to the editor and also going out into the community to cover stories and writing opinion columns that bring a fresh youth perspective,” King said in an email to UMSL Daily. “She also has been fun to have around the newsroom – she takes the incessant needling with a nice smile.”

Simril appreciates King’s guidance and said he’s made her a better writer. She was always a voracious reader, with The St. Louis American among her must-reads, so this opportunity has been a rewarding experience.

“I read their papers all the time. But I never thought I would actually be one of their interns or writers. Now I grab their paper to see if my article made it in,” she said.

Simril graduated from Soldan International Studies High School in St. Louis, and grew up in the city’s North Pointe neighborhood. After graduating from UMSL she plans on pursuing a master’s degree.

A career in politics might be inevitable. She’s long been a community activist courtesy of her father, who is a vocal supporter of the Neighborhood Ownership Model. It entails residents taking part in citizen patrols, attending court hearings to advocate for neighborhood victims and working hand in hand with prosecutors, aldermen and police.

“I’ve been told I was going to be an elected officials,” she said “The older I get I realize how politically motivated I’ve been through the years, and I didn’t even know it. I like nonprofits, but I can’t deny the political pull.”

No matter which career path she decides to take, she’s really looking forward to graduating in December.

“I don’t want a party. I want sleep,” she said with a chuckle.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez