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Gracy Olmstead: For the Love of Words

October 18th, 2013

By Rachel Aldrich

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Gracy and husband Eli.

Gracy Olmstead (Political Journalism, ’13) has always loved books. She wrote her first book in kindergarten and her parents read books aloud to her from the time she was young. Now, a few months out of college, she was recently promoted to full-time associate editor of the American Conservative, a print and web magazine based in the Washington, D.C. area. There, she helps design the magazine, run the website, and writes – a lot.

“It’s one of the best internships I’ve ever had and probably the best first job I could have as a writer,” she said.

Olmstead loves her job, but she hasn’t always wanted to be a journalist.

When Olmstead came to PHC as a freshman, she wanted to work in public relations for a human rights organization like International Justice Mission when she graduated. But during her time at Patrick Henry College, two things changed that.

First, she wanted to be part of raising awareness for human trafficking. But she began to notice that, in the last four or five years, trafficking has received a lot of attention from the media.
Second, she said, “the longer I was a journalism major, the more I fell in love with journalism for its own sake.”

Her curiosity and love of learning made journalism a good fit for her. While at school, she wrote for both school news publications, the Herald and The Intelligencer, and grew more interested in international news, religious affairs, and cultural affairs.

“You learn something every day,” she said, and as time went on, she realized, “I don’t really want to write for a communications department. I just want to keep writing.”

Because while journalism wasn’t always Olmstead’s focus, she has always loved writing.

“I can’t think of a part of my life that hasn’t been fueled and blessed by the written word,” she said.

She said she never thought of herself as a natural writer, like some people seemed to be. She had to work really hard to learn the techniques.

“Even when I was terrible, I knew there wasn’t anything I wanted to do more,” she said. “I just had to.”

Eventually, Olmstead hopes to write a non-fiction book like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken – a true story about a World War II airman who crashed in the Pacific Ocean.

But before she starts any big writing projects, she wants to learn more about writing, publishing, and human experience. And her time at The American Conservative is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

Her work there allows her to write about things she cares about. Over the summer, she has written extensively about education, the situation in Syria, and Coptic Christians in Egypt. Her articles about women in the career world and the hookup culture have gotten varied feedback.

Recently married to Eli Olmstead, she doesn’t see herself being a career woman forever, because she wants to homeschool her children someday. She even covered the books, libraries, and technology beat.

“It was really fun to cover that beat. I didn’t know that was a beat until this summer,” she said, because, after all, “It’s fun to write about books all day.”

Olmstead said she has appreciated working in an environment where she is always challenged to work harder and learn more. Her editors always check her logic and research thoroughly and avoid the tendency to write the sensational.

“This is really the most thoughtful publication I have worked for,” she said. “It means I write articles I’m proud of.”