A global pandemic convulsed the higher education community when students across the country found themselves without summer internships, losing out on opportunities to gain valuable out-of-classroom experience.
While reflecting on this situation, College of Fine Arts junior Kylie Carroll brainstormed ways she could gain design experience in a magazine-type setting to build her resume.
The result was PANDA magazine, which Carroll launched in May with the help of classmates in her graphic design class, women who responded to her open call on Instagram and a few of her friends. She said she wanted to make PANDA a group effort to give the magazine more substance in its purpose of “uplifting women.”
PANDA gives writers free reign over the work they produce, and graphic designers add a visual component to each article. Since its conception, the magazine has released an issue for June and July. Carroll said she hopes to continue publishing once a month, although the school year may be unpredictable.
“In terms of the future, I’m still feeling it out,” Carroll said. “It’ll just be figuring out people’s workloads as school’s starting back up, especially because everything’s so weird and all over the place right now.”
Beyond pandas being Carroll’s favorite animal, she said the black and white of the panda is a visual representation of a contributor’s voice.
“There are a bunch of metaphors … like seeing the world in black and white, having a strong stance on whatever you want to write about,” Carroll said. “I wanted it to also be a resource for either writers or designers at school that are my peers to build their own portfolio as well and have it be for a good cause.”
The PANDA team comprises around 20 writers and designers. Each staff member signs on for a three-month contract, but Carroll said the composition of the team may vary between each publication.
Jayna Mikolaitis, a junior in CFA, is a member of both PANDA’s writing and design teams, which allows her to fuse her two passions.
“My favorite part was actually being able to work on both teams,” Mikolaitis said. “It was really cool to see the combination of the two come through in this collective project.”
PANDA also recruits contributors outside of Boston University students. Designer Oliva Escobedo, a junior at the Maryland Institute College of Art, began working for the magazine in May after her boyfriend, a friend of Carroll’s, connected her with PANDA.
“I love seeing how the writers’ articles translate to each of their designers through their work and how they compliment each other,” Escobedo wrote in a text message. “It was really nice to be able to use PANDA as a creative outlet during quarantine, it was a lot of fun to work on.”
Hannah Schweitzer, a senior in BU’s College of Communication, began writing for PANDA in June. She wrote in a text message that Carroll’s work as a founder and lead creative inspired the team and encouraged them to work hard.
“[Carroll] has been a supportive and inspiring leader,” Schweitzer wrote. “She has this amazing ability to make everyone around her feel empowered.”
Not only does PANDA help female designers and writers build their portfolios, the magazine also raises money each month for a specific cause. PANDA will accept donations throughout September, and the proceeds will be divided across three causes.
Money raised in June was dedicated to the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and July’s funds were directed to human rights in Yemen. Carroll wrote she’s hoping to split the next issue’s proceeds between the two for the third donation.
The August issue is set to publish within the next several days, Carroll confirmed in a text message. Regardless of whether PANDA continues to publish each month, Carroll said she encourages people to join its writing and design teams.
“It could be a platform where I have either young artists or up-and-coming people trying to build their resume or even get any kind of design experience or writing experience,” Carroll said. “I want it to be a collaborative thing where women can just share really whatever the hell they want.”