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National Geographic Writer Credits History Capstone with Preparing Her for a Journalism Career

December 6, 2022

While finishing her bachelor’s degree in history, Amy McKeever researched Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning writer Saul Bellow and the New York intellectual community for her capstone thesis.

Amy McKeever museum
Amy McKeever poses in the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washing-ton, D.C.

The assignment “was my first real exposure to an intense research project and helped me understand how to dig for historical documents and other primary sources,” says McKeever ’06. It provided a taste of what would become her career: McKeever is a full-time senior writer and editor for National Geographic.

The job is based in Washington, D.C., and brought McKeever full circle. The daughter of D.C.-based foreign service officers, she attended high school in the nearby suburbs of northern Virginia. “I never really wanted to come back to this area,” she admits. Now, she can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Just before joining National Geographic full time in 2020, McKeever wrote a piece for Condé Nast Traveler titled “14 Best Things to do in Washington, D.C.,” in which she directs readers to “Forget whatever it is you think you know about what there is to do in Washington, D.C.”

“Yes, America’s capital city is brimming with memorials, museums and watering holes for the high-powered,” she continues. “But there’s much more than politics driving the energy here. Residents will tell you it’s supremely livable, full of leafy, trail-filled parks, hip food markets and breweries, state-of-the-art rock venues, and tiny jazz clubs—to say nothing of the booming dining scene of recent years. There are stellar options on and off the beaten path when you’re in town, and really, something for everyone.“

At National Geographic, McKeever has worked across all content areas, including science, environment, animals, history and travel. “The first year I got a crash course in epidemiology covering COVID-19, but also wrote a lot about politics and the Supreme Court,” says McKeever, who started as an intern fact-checker for the former magazine, National Geographic Traveler.

McKeever’s byline has also appeared in publications such as Eater, Travel + Leisure and Thrillist. In addition to history, she majored in magazine journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, and French in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“There have been so many historic events in the last two years. It’s been useful to turn back to what I learned at Maxwell to help our readers put current events into context,” she says.

Will she look to relocate? Not likely.

“There’s so much opportunity and so many interesting people who are here to make the world a better place” she says. “People tend to think of Washington in terms of politics, but it’s very easy to carve out your own little D.C. that has nothing to do with Capitol Hill.”

By Renée Gearhart Levy

Published in the Fall 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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