Katherine Parker-Magyar '05
Travel and Culture Writer
Education: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, English and European studies; The New School, master’s degree in English literature
What I’m Doing Now: I began travel writing full time in 2018, and then the pandemic hit. I’m based in New York City, but I stayed in Jackson Hole at the time and wrote about road trips, national parks, and other outdoor stories from places in Montana and Wyoming, where it was easy to socially distance. After I got my vaccine, in May 2021, my first trip was to the Maldives. Soon, I have plans to travel to Rwanda to go mountain trekking and meet gorillas and chimps.
Most Important Influencer: Growing up, both my mom and dad loved to travel. They had four kids and would just take us with them. They took me to the Arctic circle when I was 14 months old. I saw all 50 states by the time I was 13. I really credit them for turning me into a travel writer. My mom, who also went to Kent Place (Elizabeth Parker ’71), kept a journal of musings and observations on our trips, which she bound and printed as a gift for her four children. It’s the best memento.
Biggest Risk I Took: I really love to read and write, and always wanted to become a writer. But to be a travel writer was such a dream for me. I was so nervous about not making it that I was too scared to try. I was 30 years old, working in media, and had a good salary, but I finally quit my job to focus on writing. It’s terrifying to put yourself out there as a writer; it took me a couple of years and grad school to make the leap.
What KPS Taught Me: In college, I raised my hand all the time. In a letter of recommendation for grad school, one of my English professors at Hobart wrote about the first time I attracted his notice as a student. We were talking about this Adrienne Rich poem and it was just a bunch of guys raising their hands, and they were wrong. He wrote that I spoke up, fully dissected the poem, and was confident and brave enough to contradict the guys in class. I credit Kent Place for that, where being outspoken, being intelligent, and being opinionated are celebrated.
My Biggest Failure — and Most Important Lesson: Being disorganized. I had so many missed detentions — I was always late — that I had to stay after school for a day after graduation to sharpen pencils and clean erasers, and chat with the teachers. I know that should be a punishment, but it’s one of my highlights from high school. It was hilarious. I became more organized and focused as I got older. I was the best student I’ve ever been in graduate school. You can still come into yourself.
Advice for My KPS Sisters: If you’re going to pursue a creative field, you have to really market yourself and push for yourself. You have to put yourself out there. I didn’t want to share my writing at first, but I was my own harshest critic. Find what you’re passionate about and pursue that passion. Be curious. And don’t get discouraged. Your 20s can be a mis-marketed decade. You don’t have to have everything in order.