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By Heidi Hannoush

Camille DiBenedetto always liked to read — so much, in fact, that she wanted to pursue a career as a fiction writer. Along the way, she explored opportunities that helped her develop new interests and eventually brought her here, to the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Carolina!

Camille transferred to UNC from Drexel University after her sophomore year. After working for the nonfiction publication The Smart Set at Drexel, she developed a love for that style of writing. “There was arts and culture writing there and I was like ‘this is really cool,’” she said, “I like writing about things that are actually happening in the world that I feel are relevant. Nonfiction can actually be super interesting.”

She wanted to find a program that focused on nonfiction writing. “[UNC] had the exact creative nonfiction program I was interested in. I applied, got in, got financial aid, and the decision kind of just made itself,” she says.

While at Carolina, Camille has further explored her curiosity in nonfiction. She has found that her interests lie in the space between nonfiction writing and journalism. “The nice thing about the English major is there’s only 10 classes, so I have so many other credits to take classes in the journalism school that I think are interesting and take classes in storytelling that I think are interesting and social justice and things that I want to write about.”

“I really like using my writing and my English skills as a way to propel social justice issues,” she said. Camille uses these skills in her communications job at the Campus Y, where she writes articles on students with unique experiences. “I’d say with my collective English experience [Drexel and UNC], I’m a very good writer.” She also does video work, where her English skills have helped as well. “I actually realize a lot of my video work/editing skills have surprisingly come from my writing/editing skills, which is interesting,” she said.

Regarding academic and professional experiences, one piece of advice Camille offers is to take opportunities that aren’t necessarily your first interest. For example, during her gap year, Camille worked full-time as an editorial assistant in medical publishing for the company Elsevier. She held several responsibilities including managing two of her own titles and communicating with authors of the articles under review. “A lot of my interviewing skills from the past made it really easy to speak with those [authors]; obviously there’s a difference between writing and speaking, but I feel like all of those skills I’ve learned from English have really helped me with interpersonal skills.”

Though she sees the experience as worthwhile, Camille expresses that she doesn’t necessarily want to go into medical publishing. However, she adds, “I’ve learned a lot of really valuable things there and I’m glad that I took the opportunity even though it wasn’t a dream internship or a dream position.” Every internship opens doors. Currently, Camille works part-time for Spring Hollow Press.

Camille says if there’s an opportunity in your field of study that’s not perfect, still take it and run with it! Exploring possibilities can help you discover new interests. “The same thing happened with The Smart Set when I was at Drexel,” Camille says. “I didn’t think I wanted to do nonfiction. I went there, worked, wrote nonfiction, and it sent me down a completely different path to transfer to Carolina. Like I said, I absolutely love it here, and I’m so happy that I transferred.”

Portrait of Camille DiBenedetto
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