Staff profile: Whitney Dawn Carlson

Sitting at the dinner table in Volga, South Dakota, awaiting her mother’s home-cooked meal, Whitney Carlson imagines herself half a world away, chowing down on Spanish seafood paella prepared with fresh mariscos caught in the Mediterranean Sea. 

10967633_566928320304_418075251_oEven when she couldn’t see it, Carlson always knew there was more to the world than what her hometown of 1,768 had to offer. 

She hasn’t hesitated to see it firsthand: she’s visited with foreign exchange students in Europe, visited friends in the Peace Corps in South America, and now she’s working as a social media intern at the Chicago Tribune. 

Interestingly enough, this might be the biggest leap of all for Carlson, whose hometown has just one newspaper, that publishes weekly, and whose online edition consists of PDFs of its print issue. In her down time, Carlson explores her new city as she did the more urban areas of Germany, Russia, Paraguay and Brazil while she was abroad. 

“It’s really interesting that different neighborhoods can have different personalities,” she said. 

Individual neighborhoods, keep in mind, that are more populous than her hometown Volga without even trying.

But it’s not just about changing her own world; her ultimate goal is to change the world for others, maybe someday working for Amnesty International or The Gates Foundation. Even with grand ambitions, her endgame boils down to a simple declaration.

“I want to help people,” Carlson said. “I want to make the world a better place.”

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