Young Laureate uses Carlow values to amplify marginalized voices

Alumna Chanessa Schuler said her life would be very different if she hadn’t attended Carlow, where inspiration, direction and encouragement led to her fulfilling career.

“I did have other options, but Carlow delivered and gave me exactly what I needed,” she said.

Schuler, of Pittsburgh, earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media and a minor in political science at Carlow in 2012. During her sophomore year, she fulfilled a service-learning requirement by participating in Youth Media Advocacy Project programs.

The following year, she interned at SLB Radio Productions in Pittsburgh. She is now SLB’s director of programs, working on high-profile media projects with schools, foundations and media organizations.

“(YMAP) was my first community-based experience. Carlow is … very much connected to the outside community,” Schuler said. “I appreciated that the school saw me for who I was and not just as a student, that I was part of a larger institution and that I mattered.”

Motivated by her experience at SLB, Schuler transitioned from training in video production to audio production in order to focus on the power of words and the art of storytelling.

At SLB, she serves as liaison for activities conducted at Pittsburgh Public Schools, including After School Academy, Summer Dreamers Academy and Youth Media Advocacy Project. She has led Girl Talk and Crossing Fences programs that connect generations through oral histories, helping students cultivate communication and workforce skills, develop engaging and ethical questions, and learn responsibility.

In May, Schuler received the 2021 Carlow Young Laureate Award, given to an alumna whose work, thoughts and actions demonstrate the highest standards of professional accomplishment and leadership.

“Chanessa brings an incredible combination of passion, clarity, intelligence, values and skills to her work,” SLB Executive Director Larry Berger said. “As director of programs, she has a knack for working with schools and community centers to develop site-specific opportunities to amplify voices of youth as well as members of other communities whose stories are often marginalized. She’s an outstanding mentor to her co-workers and continues to raise the bar with respect to our quality of work and its impact.”

Schuler said she “absolutely loves” her job.

“I always find new opportunities within my job to create, inspire and empower others to be creative,” she said.

Schuler said she is looking forward to more opportunities as SLB Radio expands its headquarters at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, providing space for new and expanded programs.

“This will allow me to flourish even more,” she said. “I will be directing more programs with more students across the city.”

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