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Latesha Thornhill ’21 telling the stories of veterans through VA internship

Latesha Thornhill

Latesha Thornhill ’21 poses with a photo of her late father, who served in the Navy. 

The stories of veterans are close to Latesha Thornhill’s heart.

“Earlier this year, my dad passed away. He was a Navy vet,” said Thornhill, who is working as a digital media engagement intern for the Department of Veteran Affairs. “He used to tell me all these stories about his life in the Navy. I feel like doing this has brought me a little bit closer to him for a little bit longer.”

The gig, which lasts until May, has found her working as a researcher and fact checker on the department’s external communications, including its Veterans of the Day blog posts.

“It’s really about making sure we’re telling their stories,” said Thornhill, who is majoring in philosophy, political science, and East Asian studies at Randolph. “When I’m fact checking, I’m literally looking at every single word, making sure the information is right, that the spelling and names are correct. I also check the graphics to ensure the medals are in the right order.”

It is a time-intensive process, but the work means a lot to Thornhill, who learned the importance of critical thinking and ethical, accurate storytelling from her father.

She also credits her philosophy studies.

“One huge aspect of philosophy is making sure you are working within ethical means,” Thornhill said during a recent podcast hosted by a colleague. “So when you tell a story, you want to tell somebody’s full story and you want to tell that story accurately. I know I would want somebody to tell my dad’s story accurately.”

She’ll soon get the opportunity to do some of her own writing, profiling veterans for the blog.

“Between semesters, I’m thinking about interviewing my own family or friends and putting that up,” she said in a recent interview. “I know how to do it, how to write, and already work very closely with the writers, editors, and graphic designers. I have an idea of how they do everything.”

The skills she is honing through the internship will help her as she applies for graduate programs in communications, with the ultimate goal of becoming an international journalist.

“One of my majors is East Asian studies,” she said. “I’d love to go to Taiwan to collaborate with people who want to tell stories about that region.”

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