Student Spotlight with Zach Tantillo
Name: Zach Tantillo
Hometown: Dothan, Ala.
Career Goal: To become a sports writer
CLA: You transferred from Wallace State Community College to Auburn. What was that transition like from a small campus to Auburn’s with 30,000 students?
Tantillo: You know how if you go to a big city, you can spot tourists because they're always looking up? That's how I was for the first couple weeks because I was still soaking it in. At Wallace, I could walk from one side of campus to the other in three or four minutes, and I knew so many people there because it was my hometown. But here you see all these faces that you don't know. It was kind of a shock. One of my first classes had 250 people in it. It was definitely a different experience.
CLA: You’re majoring in journalism with an interest in sports journalism. Who are your favorite professors? Favorite classes?
Tantillo: Honestly all of the professors in the journalism program have helped me. Dr. Rawls was my news writing and reporting professor. He was so helpful. Dr. Carvalho, he's the sports director for the journalism program. I have him right now for advanced sports reporting and since he's in the specific thing that I want to do, having him is really helpful. Andrea Hall is teaching me editing and design right now. Even though I never thought I would be interested in that, somehow she makes it interesting and it’s giving me more skills. Alec Harvey, the faculty advisor for The Plainsman, has been helpful too. So I mean honestly the entire department really has been helpful.
CLA: You're planning on doing an internship this summer. What do you ultimately want to do as a career?
Tantillo: I would love to be a beat writer, national writer, for college football. I would do basketball, too, but football is really the number one sport I like covering. I covered a lot of the Auburn football games, a majority of them this year and that was fun.
CLA: How is Auburn preparing you for your career?
Tantillo: I met with Marianne McCarley recently and she showed me the career shift, how to update my LinkedIn profile, and a website that compares your résumé to other people who are in your industry. That was a really helpful thing and since then I've beefed up my résumé. And the classes too. We just did an enterprise reporting project for Dr. Carvalho where we contacted big name people to come and talk about a certain topic that we were writing about. We also did an oral history project on the Masters and we talked to people who cover golf. And a lot of the questions revolved around their preparation too for covering events. I like these projects because it puts all the responsibility on us just like it would be in the real world. I took a class last semester called sports storytelling with War Eagle Productions. We had to go to games, shoot highlights of the games, and then conduct interviews. They treated us just like we were one of their employees. Here's the equipment, go do it. There's no better experience than the real thing. And they would give feedback, tell you what could be better and explained it. You weren't just seeing your grade on a computer. The feedback you get from all the professors helps a lot.
CLA: What’s your favorite Auburn tradition?
Tantillo: Probably the eagle flying. Every time I go to a football game I get chills during that moment. I swear it never gets old. And the eagle, it represents the Auburn spirit in a way.
CLA: What does it mean to be a part of the Auburn Family?
Tantillo: That's a big phrase you hear a lot. How do I put this in words? It's walking down the concourse or walking down the street in Auburn and seeing a random stranger and saying "War Eagle" and you know you’re going to get a "War Eagle" back. It's funny because “War Eagle” means so many different things. It means hi, hello, bye, have a good day. Everybody is a part of the family, whether you're a student, a fan, alumni, it just encompasses you and you feel that bond.
CLA: What advice would you give to a high school student who is considering Auburn?
Tantillo: Do it. It’s the best thing I've done with my life. I would tell them that Auburn is a special place that values education, values you as a person. Auburn will have arms wide open and ready for you. My advice would be to follow you heart, and your heart will probably lead you back to Auburn.
Last Updated: May 02, 2019