Katerina Misa '17: Getting Out of Her Comfort Zone

Sara Jacobson

She was the shy girl who insisted she hated writing, but kept coming back to the Talon and Reid Westrem’s journalism class year after year. Today, as a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, she manages the Twitter account for Dr. Steve Hanke, one of the world’s leading experts on troubled currencies.

With over 100,000 followers to keep informed and plans to increase that following, Katerina Misa manages ten others who work on the account. She also keeps an eye on the global economic news cycle and connects with journalists she thinks might be interested in what Dr. Hanke has to say. (Did we mention that she's only a sophomore?)

You could say that this experience almost didn’t happen: Dr. Hanke met and ultimately hired Katerina thanks to skills gained during her years with Mr. Westrem, in classes she found too writing-heavy for her taste.

“I think that every year except for my senior year I tried to quit,” she admits. But then a counselor would point out how well she was doing and encourage her to stick it out, and she eventually found her niche in design and leadership roles.

A year later, at JHU, Katerina faced a new challenge. She had already worked on multiple marketing projects for established brands, but she wanted to strengthen her economics muscles. She set her heart on working for economist Steve Hanke, who was right there on campus. But how could Katerina, a sophomore with few connections, catch the ear of one of the world’s leading economists?

“Networking is always a bit out of my comfort zone,” Katerina says, “I’m more on the introverted side.” But she decided to push through her inhibitions and cold-called a number of people in Dr. Hanke's network, asking about his office culture and what the man himself was like, developing connections even as she was doing her own fact-finding.

“[Journalism is] what helped me…I know how to interview someone when I’m just talking to them." she says.

Ultimately, Katerina's efforts paid off: she landed an interview with Dr. Hanke, who noticed that some of Katerina’s Talon work had been recognized by the prestigious Quill & Scroll. Combined with her history of leadership and marketing, she stood out as a unique potential addition to his economically-schooled team.

Hanke created a new role for Katerina, putting her over the ten students already working on his Twitter account, as well as in charge of building his visibility in the media world.

“Bringing it back to journalism,” Katerina says, laughing at the irony of it all, “I guess it was my most beneficial class.”

 

Place of Influence:
Johns Hopkins University

Twitter

Role:
Chief of Communications for professor, economist, author and currency expert Dr. Steve Hanke.

Studies:
Economics, Major

Marketing & Communications, Minor
Entrepreneurship & Management, Minor

Biggest MA Takeaway:
The value of community. Persistence: MA offers a lot to prepare you for college, but you need to be willing to take the opportunities offered and then stick with them to see the long-term benefits.

Advice to Current Students:
Connect with your teachers and advisors. Go up to them after class and talk to them. Also ask them to help you understand how you can best allocate your little time at Minnehaha.

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