Once a month, MatadorU faculty members get together to spotlight one standout student from a pool of faculty- and student-nominated weekly selections.
For November, Milda Ratkelyte is being honored as MatadorU’s first ever Student of the Month. Milda was chosen because of her contagious enthusiasm and optimism throughout her MatadorU coursework. She dove right into the experience, taking on all 3 course offerings and actively sharing resources and making connections in our student/alumni private Facebook group. She also authored the recent How to piss off a Lithuanian post at Matador Network — an opportunity she found and grabbed on MatadorU’s Matador Access boards.
We caught up with Milda to ask her a few questions about her MatadorU experience.
Congrats, Milda! We’re proud to have you as a member of the MatadorU student body! Start by introducing yourself — where are you from and what are you up to?
I am originally from Lithuania, but have been out and about for over 10 years now. My travel obsession started during summers spent in Kenya as a kid and thereafter took me all around the world, from the UK to the USA, China, Africa, and all around Asia. I’m a photographer at heart, but falling in love with filmmaking and writing more and more each day. My free-time is dedicated to yoga and learning new languages! 2014 goal: fluent in Spanish!
Currently, I’m a Community Manager for AsiaRooms.com and I love my job. It combines all the best aspects: freedom for creativity and fun projects, traveling, working with talented travel writers, photographers and filmmakers to inspire everyone to travel, explore, discover. Long term, I am looking to become a location independent travel content creator, focusing on visual content (maybe for Matador Network? :) )
What’s been your favorite part of MatadorU so far?
It has to be the people. The support I am receiving from MatadorU team is great! I have received constructive feedback and have been guided the right direction, which helped me improve significantly, but I also made great friends and worked together on projects with some of the faculty members (Daniel Nahabedian and Candice Walsh).
We love how encouraging you are to new students in the FB group! Any advice for people out there who are considering signing up for a program like MatadorU, but aren’t sure?
You should definitely do it. I started MatadorU with zero experience in writing or filmmaking. It’s been less than a year since I completed my writing course and I have published over 100 articles of all sorts, from hotel reviews and lists for AsiaRooms.com to full feature stories for well-known blogger sites, an article for Matador Network (which totally went viral), and a number of interviews for various magazines.
That’s amazing progress in just 1 year! What would be your dream travel journalism opportunity and what stories do you hope to tell in the future?
I am not a Top 10 Lists or “Things to do in…” girl. Instead, I would love to write/film/photograph more in-depth feature stories about destinations, people, and culture to inspire readers to travel. I love National Geographic Traveler magazine feature stories. That’s where I want to be. …One day.
One day soon, at the rate you’re going! You’re pretty unstoppable… You’re unique in that you’ve enrolled in all 3 MatadorU courses. What did you like best about being able to take all 3?
I think a lot of people would agree that today being just a writer or just a photographer is not good enough. The competition in the industry is high, so if you come in a package (able to write, source awesome photos, and maybe even create a video), you’re way ahead. Also, all three course complement each other in preparing you for the battle out there.
Student of the Month honorees are selected based on not only the quality of their work, but the progress they’ve made throughout the course, the effort and enthusiasm they show during their MatadorU journey, and their willingness to support and help their fellow students. Check out MatadorU.com for more information about our travel writing, photography, and filmmaking courses, and to learn how you can join Milda in our community of travel journalists from around the world.