Ambitious School of Journalism & Graphic Communication junior broadcast journalism student Aiyana Ishmael was eyeing the Teen Vogue website over Thanksgiving break when she noticed an article she submitted was featured on the site.
“I was at home with my mother,” she said. “I saw one that looked familiar and realized ‘Hey, that’s me!’”
Teen Vogue’s is circulated to more than 1 million subscribers worldwide. Ishmael’s article, “How Plus-Size College Students in Tallahassee Shop,” highlighted the challenges larger women face when trying to express themselves through fashion in cities such as Tallahassee.
“I hated not having any options…My goal was to bring awareness to people that didn’t know this was a struggle,” she said.
The fashion-loving student said the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University School of Journalism and Graphic Communication empowers her as a creative by being so supportive.
“As a journalist, it’s easy to have imposter syndrome, but here they make you feel like you’re good enough,” she said. “It feels good to be supported because it pushes me to be better because I have people rooting for me.”
However, Ishmael is no imposter. As a transfer student to FAMU SJGC, she quickly established herself and her skills working with student media. This year, she was elected the editor-in-chief of Journey magazine, SJGC’s student-led, award-winning magazine. Ishmael also represented the school this summer as a student fellow at the Online News Association HBCU Digital Media Fellows Program. And her leadership there was noticed. Ismael was elected in December 2019 as the student representative on the Online News Association’s board of directors, serving a term from 2020 to 2022.
On the ONA website, Ishmael’s profile says that as a journalist, she wants to ignite conversation and create change through storytelling. The article she wrote for Teen Vogue she says was her way of showing other plus-size students they’re not alone. Though Teen Vogue has not shared how many times the story has been viewed, Ishmael’s story has made an impact. Ishmael says she was contacted by H&M’s Tallahassee general manager about changes coming to the store and including more plus-size options.
“Now, that’s journalism,” said Dean Michelle Ferrier of Ishmael’s work. “Ailyana continues to shine in her writing, her leadership and her service to other students through her new role at ONA. We couldn’t be more pleased to see our students and their skills recognized by major publications and organizations.”