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Suzanne Hanney: mentor & true friend

Tue, Oct 2, 2012

Brittany Langmeyer [left] and Suzanne Hanney

I remember the first time I met the Editor-in-Chief of StreetWise Magazine, Miss Suzanne Hanney. I was a junior in college at Loyola University Chicago and had applied for my very first round of internships. I was anxiously anticipating a call or an email about my impending job, but what I received that afternoon was much more than I had expected… much, much more.

As I sat to lunch with my mom, my phone rang and an unknown number appeared on the screen. I frantically answered and, in doing so, encountered Suzanne for the first time. She was using her “professional phone voice,” as I’ve grown to fondly refer to it over the years, with a very whispery, serious and “no-nonsense” tone.

In a matter of minutes, I had answered a few questions about my experience as a journalism student, my personal background, why I chose StreetWise, my writing interests and much more. The whole conversation was like a vocal hurricane, much akin to Suzanne’s whirlwind of a personality. And before I hung up, she had already assigned me a story to cover! In that moment, for the very first time, I felt like a real journalist.

And today, thanks to the faith and support Suzanne has always given me, I am indeed a real journalist. And although my career seems to be headed more towards the public relations and marketing side of communications, I’ll never forget how Suzanne paved the road for me to grow into a successful and innovative writer.

As an intern – and even as her colleague today – Suzanne’s skill as a journalist was a shining beacon for me to model after. For example, when Suzanne is conducting an interview, I’m always amazed by the creative questions she comes up with. Suzanne doesn’t just ask the surface stuff, oh no… she digs deep into social issues with tough questions, not because she simply wants to have a unique story with a new angle, but also because she really cares about what she writes. She wants her writing to motivate social change and inspire StreetWise readers to get involved. That’s one gift Suzanne gave me: don’t write to impress… write to make change.

In the StreetWise office, Mondays are traditionally known to be ultra chaotic as the editorial team (comprised of myself, Suzanne and a few interns) works feverishly to complete StreetWise magazine and send it out to the printer. This is “production day,” as we call it.

Traditionally, it’s expected that one might loathe production day, considering all of the intensity and stress that accompanies it. But that’s not the case with me at all, because I get to work alongside Suzanne and she is just hilariously entertaining to be around when she’s under a lot of pressure.

I swear, every time she arrives on production day, the first words out of her mouth are, “Are we having fun yet?” This phrase is sarcastically delivered, of course, but the funny thing is that we really do have fun. The whole day through, Suzanne continually breaks out sarcastic one-liners, keeping myself and the other interns giggling uncontrollably under our breath. And then combine that with her frantic and melodramatic mannerisms as she rushes around the office grabbing papers from the printer or scrambles over heaps of magazines piled on her desk. And, even despite the heat we’re under, she somehow always finds time to announce the latest headlines on Yahoo! to us all as we edit and type. Not only do we successfully complete the magazine thanks to Suzanne, but we’re also in tune with the latest pop culture, like what new man Kim Kardashian has decided to date or what scandal Lindsey Lohan is involved with now. That’s our Suzanne!

I’ve actually always said this to many of the interns, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever said it to Suzanne. I always say, “If I ever write a book, Suzanne will most definitely be one of the characters.” Now, I say that primarily because her personality is so bold, so utterly energetic and charismatic that she would just provide so much color and entertainment to any novel. And secondly, hell… Suzanne deserves to be in a book. Why? Because she’s just that inspiring, that interesting and that cool. Period.

Since that summer in 2010 when I interned for her, I’ve learned too many lessons to count (and Suzanne still teaches me new things every day, both in relevance to my professional career and to my life). Thanks to her, I am a good interviewer and my writing has edge and personality, because I was inspired by her passion to not only be unique, but to inspire a social dialogue. Thanks to Suzanne, I always try to perfectly match my jewelry to every outfit, as she continually amazes me with her cute business suits that are set off by adorable jewelry. Thanks to Suzanne, I have a person in the office who I can turn to when I’m having a bad day or need to talk. Suzanne is more than my colleague… she’s my true friend.

Brittany Langmeyer, StreetWise Director of Design & Marketing

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