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An International Classroom: Academics Meets a Passion for Travel

Exploring unfamiliar places influences double major’s creative process.
Cameron McKeon ’23 standing and smiling.

Cameron McKeon ’23, a double major in magazine, news and digital journalism, and anthropology, stands next to a mural in Armory Square in downtown Syracuse. Whether exploring Syracuse or an international city like Prague, he enjoys learning about new places and their cultures.

Cameron McKeon ’23 is always game for exploring—whether he’s reporting on a City of Syracuse Common Council meeting for a journalism class assignment, roaming a Dublin bookstore or setting foot on all 14 islands that comprise Stockholm. He also may be the first-ever Syracuse University student whose internship included appearances as a relief pitcher. “So that was wild,” he says, recalling his trips to the mound last summer while working as a social media and communications intern with the Portland Pickles of the collegiate West Coast League.

Cameron McKeon ’23 writing.

McKeon is an avid reader who likes to check out bookstores and find books connected to the cities he visits.

Before starting at Syracuse, McKeon joined his mother on a 34-day hike of the legendary El Camino de Santiago trail, trekking through parts of France and Spain. As a Syracuse junior, he spent the spring semester abroad in Prague gathering more experiences traveling around Europe. “It was good to have Prague as a home base because it’s smack dab in the middle of Europe,” he says. “Study abroad is a great cultural experience—it gets you out of your comfort zone with foods, language, people, even with sports.”

For McKeon, the travels reinforced his passion for writing and experiencing different cultures. He considers himself a curious person, and writing has served as an entry to learning about other people and unfamiliar places. “I love talking to people about what they’re passionate about,” he says.

McKeon grew up in San Ramon, California, and enrolled in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications as a magazine, news and digital journalism major. As a sophomore, he discovered the link between his cultural interests and anthropology through a class at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “I had always been fascinated by other cultures through traveling and reading, but hardly knew there was a study for it,” he says. “I decided to take Intro to Cultural Anthropology on a whim. I loved the coursework, and partway through the semester I added anthropology as a second major.”

My goal has been to fuse anthropology with journalism and find a way to utilize both those degrees in my career. Through the diversity of classes I’ve taken, I have more ideas and have improved my techniques.

Cameron McKeon ’23

Along with cultural explorations, McKeon loves sports and has a writer’s lineage. His dad is a former hockey writer who covered the NHL and the San Jose Sharks for years. He encouraged him to apply to Newhouse, and a meeting with his dad’s friend—Newhouse alum and author Tim Wendel ’78—proved influential, as he shared insights on Newhouse’s reputation, the alumni network and Orange sports.

Building Writing Experiences

McKeon was sold and since then has attended many a sporting event in the Loud House and immersed himself in writing opportunities. He covered softball and women’s soccer as a beat writer for The Daily Orange and has written for other student publications as well, including Jerk Magazine and The NewsHouse. An essay on his Camino hike that he wrote for the course Writing Culture: Introduction to Creative Nonfiction, taught by Professor Chris Feikes, was recognized as part of the University’s Best of Student Nonfiction series (spring 2020), an honor that included a reading for a virtual audience. During his senior year, he’s interned with the University’s Division of Marketing, contributing articles to the University’s website and homepage. He also joined a group of student reporters and photographers on a weekend trip to Lake Placid, where they handled social media and photography for the Empire State Winter Games.

Person sliding in snow.

A biathlon competitor gives the thumbs up after collapsing in the snow at the 2023 Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, in early February. Photo by Cameron McKeon.

For his Portland Pickles’ internship, McKeon wrote game recaps and social media posts. And when the Pickles needed pitchers for one game, McKeon—a left-handed hurler in high school—pestered the general manager to give him a try. He did—and McKeon debuted with the Pickles. “I went to the bullpen and waited my turn,” he says. “I hadn’t pitched in three years and hadn’t even warmed up, and the manager brings me in.” He struck out five batters in 2 1/3 innings and won the crowd’s adulation when his fourth strikeout pushed the team’s total into free-pizza-for-the-fans territory. Weeks later, he threw four innings for the Pickles’ affiliate team, the Rosebuds. “I had 11 strikeouts in the summer,” he says. “It was definitely a highlight of the past three years.”

Exploring Cultures

During his semester with Syracuse Abroad world partner CEA Prague, McKeon interned with the University of New York in Prague Center for Global Engagement, assisting with outreach to other universities to establish new partnerships. He took a Czech language course as well as classes on the country’s sports and food and brewing cultures. He also documented his journeys for Picture This Post, a travel and culture website to which he’s also contributed film and book reviews. “I was taking all these pictures of my travels and didn’t have anywhere to put them besides Instagram,” says the Syracuse Abroad Global Ambassador. “I went to the editor and she thought we could make a new section—we called it Picture Postcards.”

While McKeon has widened his writing scope, he hasn’t abandoned his love of sports and revels in reporting on offbeat stories like one he did on drone soccer. He appreciates the encouragement and guidance he’s received from Newhouse faculty and has enjoyed hearing from visiting speakers (including sitting in on a class that welcomed Wendel for a guest lecture).

I decided to take Intro to Cultural Anthropology on a whim. I loved the coursework, and partway through the semester I added anthropology as a second major.

Cameron McKeon ’23

He also believes his Syracuse experiences have helped him evolve socially and personally. “I’ve grown so much as a person,” he says. “The social aspect is super underrated. That’s a huge thing, too. There are so many things flying at you to do, and I’ve taken advantage of that for the most part.”

Following graduation, he’s going full circle and returning to the Camino trail to hike another section with his mother. After that, he’ll turn his attention to exploring job and internship opportunities. Ultimately, he wants to pursue a career in journalism, with aspirations of working for a publication like National Geographic or Smithsonian. “My goal has been to fuse anthropology with journalism and find a way to utilize both those degrees in my career,” he says. “Through the diversity of classes I’ve taken, I have more ideas and have improved my techniques. I feel like I’m the best writer I’ve ever been.”

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