By Kary Feick

Hard work, dedication, persistence, and an ABC Channel 12 internship all paid off for Sara Simnitch, a 2011 graduate of the Broadcast and Cinema Arts program at Madonna University.

During her time at Madonna, Simnitch landed an internship at ABC Channel 12 in Flint,  which helped prepare her for the future. For news guru Simnitch, the future was closer than even she knew.

Before Simnitch completed her last day of class at Madonna, she had a job offer at 9&10 News in Traverse City.

“Getting a job right out of college was a real blessing, “ said Simnitch. “The media industry, especially news is extremely competitive, most don't get job offers within 2 years, let alone before they even receive their diploma. With the economy being so poor right now, getting this job right away was incredible. I could not have been in a better place, at a better time.”

Now only a few short months later, Simnitch has completed a radio interview and many news stories, which have been published on the 9&10 News website. (9&

Simnitch’s story assignments range from fun, informative features to a recent murder case.

“My assistant news director told me that Cheryl Fritze from WILS AM's talk radio wanted to talk to me about the Carly Lewis murder case and I felt honored,” said Simnitch. “I thought my interview went well all-in-all. It's difficult to talk for eight minutes with no script, and no idea of the questions that will be asked.”

Naturally Simnitch enjoyed all of the work she put into the murder case, even stating that this has been her favorite story.

“Carly's family has been so accommodating to the media and she was such a beautiful young girl. From when she went missing, to finding her murderer, to the courtroom, it's been a learning journey for me,” said Simnitch.

“From a news standpoint, the story went national, and CNN called the Sheriff that I had been speaking with for weeks regarding the case, and for a new reporter, that is an incredible feeling.”

At 9&10 News, Simnitch has already experienced what it feels like to cover national news and local stories.

“There is something incredible about being on national news and covering stories from all over; but, I'm learning more and more that there is something special as well about being in the local news market and getting to meet hometown people that have pride for Northern Michigan and be able to touch the lives of so many in a small town,” said Simnitch.

The transition between Madonna and 9&10 News was a positive experience for Simnitch. The station welcomed Simnitch, and she instantly felt a sense of belonging, even on her first day at her new job.

“Everyone has been very helpful and comforting,” said Simnitch. “I love my co-workers.  My cameraman is the nicest, sweetest, most-talented person ever, and everyone else just goes with the flow.  I feel like I've been here for years.”

Simnitch adapted to Traverse City quickly and enjoys living up north.

“Traverse City is beautiful.  It used to be small, but now the secret is out and more people are moving up here all the time.  It's big enough to where you can do something different everyday, but small enough to where you can navigate around quickly.  The water is relaxing, the food is good, the people are nice, and there is so much to do.”

Even though Traverse City is more than 250 miles from Livonia, Simnitch does not have to say goodbye to the many life-long supporters she gained during her time at Madonna.

“We are so proud of Sara’s accomplishments. I had the honor of travelling up to Traverse City on vacation and got to see Sara in action,” said Suzanne Boyd, Franciscan Studios Manager.  “She is working hard and learning a lot. We expect only great things from her.”

Simnitch feels that Madonna did an excellent job preparing her for 9&10 News.

“The BCA program teaches you everything you need to know to get started in the media industry. The terms, the equipment, all of their resources are very helpful in preparing students. There have even been times when I knew something that my cameraman was surprised that I knew, that's a good feeling.”

Beyond the classroom and hands-on experience in Madonna’s state-of-the-art Franciscan Center TV Studio, Simnitch has traveled to Hollywood. Joining Christopher Coppola on a number of PAH-Fest (Project Accessible Hollywood) events, Simnitch has gained a lot of helpful experience.

During the 2011 PAH-Fest Motown event in July, Simnitch had the opportunity to be the Master of Ceremonies closing night.

“Sara is very proud to have been asked to be our MC because in no small part she attributes her success to the work she has done on PAH-Fests in the past and her relationship with Christopher Coppola and her professors at Madonna,” said Boyd.

Beyond PAH-Fests, internships, and regular classroom learning, Simnitch enjoyed a specially designed news class that helped prepare her for her current job. The class focuses on finding stories, interviewing people, producing and directing a Madonna-based news show (Madonna University’s Campus Close-up), and even being an on-camera news anchor and reporter.

“I am so proud of Sara that all the work she did at Madonna in her classes and in the News Class has paid off in getting her the job of her dreams,” said Chuck Derry, Director, Broadcast and Cinema Arts. 

“It is very rare that someone goes from student to full-time on-air reporter right out of college (literally the next day after graduation), and Sara did it – and she is doing well at it, even doing national stories. Bravo!  Her hard work made it happen.  Her accomplishment is what makes it all worthwhile to me being a teacher.”

As Simnitch wraps up her journey at Madonna, she has some advice for undergraduate students. “Never give up,” said Simnitch.

“It gets hard, it does, but if you can keep working diligently toward your goal, the hard work pays off, and I think I’m a true testament of that.”



Grad covers local, national news from Traverse City