Mount St. Joseph University

A ‘Weather-Permitting’ Career

Dateline: student newspaper, Communication and New Media Studies, School of Arts & Humanities, Department of Communication and New Media Studies

By: Amanda Gratsch

File Under: alumni

It all began at a young age for Katie Donovan. With a shy demeanor and big dreams, she has stepped out from behind the camera, revealing a polished dress, pearl necklace and improvisational skills that could keep anyone tuned into the latest forecast. With a passion for weather combined with a drive to succeed, this 2014 Mount graduate in Communications and New Media Studies is now living her dream career every single day as a weather forecaster and reporter at WHIZ-TV in Zanesville, Ohio.

It started with a stark sky, lurking grey clouds, humid spring air and then came the sirens. Severe weather was headed towards the area, and even as a child, Donovan aimed to catch every last update. She recalls these times of sitting outside on her front porch in awe as the storms rolled in across the sky. Severe weather often left her sitting on her living room couch to watch the latest news coverage, hanging onto every word the forecaster said as she watched the reds and yellows roll across the screen.  While it seemed like a big dream for such a young girl, Donovan would later come to realize that the start of her fascination with the weather would continue to grow and flourish during her college years.
Donovan often thought about going into meteorology before attending the Mount, but was not quite sure how to go about pursuing it. After arriving as a freshman, she soon found Communication and New Media Studies to be the most fitting major for her, and as quiet and reserved as she was in class, she continued to hold a heavy interest in public speaking. As a result, she was left wondering about her future ambitions as she held a constant urge to explore her potential in the weather field. She soon decided to take a meteorology class taught by Steve Horstmeyer, a Cincinnati Fox19 meteorologist, and was immediately inspired.

As a result, Donovan continued to stayed engaged in the coursework and found herself asking Horstmeyer lots of questions after class. After realizing her strong willingness to learn and her dedication to the field, Horstmeyer offered Donovan an opportunity to intern in the weather office with him at Fox19.  Through this, Donovan gained hands-on experience making weather graphics and practicing in front of the weather screen.

“I really loved the class and felt right at home during lecture.  It was Steve that really helped me to decide weather was where I was supposed to be,” says Donovan. “Steve taught me a lot over the years, and if it wasn’t for his encouragement and guidance while interning and working in the field, I wouldn’t be working where I am now.”

As a result, it comes as no surprise that Donovan's career path began quickly after graduation. She had sent out numerous applications to a few small news stations around the country, but wasn't able to  land a job just yet. Right before she graduated, a friend of hers at a small news station called WHIZ-TV in Zanesville, Ohio, was leaving to come back to Cincinnati, and told Donovan to apply for her position for weekend weather and weekday reporting. She jumped on this opportunity and was able to get an interview which led to her current, first full-time job that she started one month after graduation.  Since Zanesville is far from her hometown in Cincinnati, it was tough for Donovan to move away from her friends and family, but she says it was worth it. If there is one thing that Donovan has learned through this whole process, it's that staying close to home and being closed-minded about unheard of locations isn't always the best option.

"Starting college I was a home body, and leaving college I was still on the fence about moving for my first job. Though I am only living just under three hours away, the experience of living in a place you haven't lived before and meeting new people all on your own is incredibly rewarding," she says.

Whether she is reporting or doing the weather, Donovan uses her public speaking skills, interview skills and writing skills at her job, all of which she learned through her classes at the Mount. Her educational experience at the Mount has prepared her in numerous ways, and the encouragement she received from her professors and fellow classmates helped her see that she could reach her dream career.

Mount Junior Weston Atchison reflects on Donovan's accomplishments. "Katie was in a few of my classes at the Mount, and it's just so interesting to see a Mount graduate go on to do something like she is. She was always quiet in class, but she's a total natural at public speaking."

According to Dr. Linda Jackson, Associate Professor in Communication and New Media Studies, Donovan worked diligently in her coursework during her time at the Mount and was very goal-oriented.

"I just remember her capstone. She was talking about disaster reporting about tornados and how weather has changed from how it was then to how it is now. She was just up there like a transformed person, so in her element when she was talking. Just about everyone could see her as the weather reporter like she was on TV," says Jackson.

Currently living in Zanesville, Ohio, Donovan does weekday reporting and weekend weather. On top of her job, she is pursuing a meteorology degree online though Mississippi State University. After being at her current news station for almost a year,  Donovan continues to aim high and is applying for more jobs at larger news stations. With big dreams from the start, there's no stopping Donovan's pursuit of becoming a meteorologist within the near future.  

Click here to learn more about the Communication and New Media Studies program at the Mount

Click below to see Katie's broadcast debut: