Q&A: Alex Connor, 2018 Hugh Sidey Scholar

Alex Connor behind a blue podium
Alex Connor gets a chance to stand behind the podium at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 27 in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Connor

Alex Connnor, graduating senior in journalism and mass communication, was selected as the 2018 recipient of the Hugh Sidey Scholarship in Print Journalism.

The scholarship was etablished at Iowa State by the White House Historical Association and David Rubenstein in memory of the late Hugh Sidey, an Iowa State alumnus and journalist who covered the presidency for Time magazine.

In addition to a $5000 scholarship, Connor traveled to Washington, D.C. to be recognized at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 27.

Why did you apply for the Hugh Sidey Scholarship in Print Journalism?

Hugh Sidey was not only an influential journalist but also an Iowa State alum. Being able to be a part of such a big legacy as a scholar has been a goal of mine since I was a freshman.

The White House Historical Association sponsors the scholarship and arranges the trip. What was on your D.C. itinerary?

Upon arrival, I attended a luncheon hosted by the White House Historical Association. I then toured CNN and grabbed coffee with a Washington Post reporter. The next day I attended a luncheon and panel through the White House Correspondents’ Association and got brunch with the press secretary under Bill Clinton.

five panelists and a moderator seated at the front of the room
A panel organized by the White House Correspondents Association was one of the many highlights of Greenlee journalism student Alex Connor’s trip to D.C. as the 2018 Hugh Sidey Scholar. Photo courtesy of Connor.

What was it like to attend and be recognized at the black-tie White House Correspondents’ dinner? Who did you sit with?

It was an unforgettable experience to be in a room with my journalism heroes. I was nervous, of course, but everyone was so kind and welcoming. My table was with the other White House scholars.

What surprised you the most about the experience? Or, what was the most interesting thing you learned?

I was surprised by how in the know so many people are in Washington about communities like Ames. I was able to chat with a former White House correspondent who road RAGBRAI each year.

What advice do you have for future Greenlee students who might consider applying for the scholarship?

Just do it! The application process may feel intimidating but it’s a really good opportunity to use the skills you’re learning as a journalist and apply them through the lens of Hugh Sidey’s legacy.

What lasting impact do you hope the experience will have on you career?

I hope that I can build upon the connections I made and people.

Do you have anything you’d like to add about the experience?

Thank you to the White House Historical Association, the White House Correspondents’ Association and the Greenlee School of Journalism for this opportunity!