Jamie Beth COHEN '93, Storyteller

Jamie Beth COHEN '93 is a storyteller, in many ways. From her Young Adult novel WASTED PRETTY to her pieces published in major news outlets, Jamie has mastered the art of the story—and is helping others do the same. She has been featured in storytelling events across Pennsylvania and in New York City and has worked with storytellers of all experience levels to perfect their own craft. Watch her Ellis After Fifth Ave session, Telling Your Own Story, to perfect your own storytelling practices.
Graduation Year:
B.A. English George Mason University; M.S.Ed. Baruch College
Lancaster County, PA

What is your profession? How did you get into your line of work?
I left my career in private school admissions and financial aid to focus more on my writing and other creative endeavors. Now, I have a "day job" as an administrative assistant at a graduate school where I get to work with very smart, very kind people and never have to think about work when I'm not there! It allows me the time and headspace to create, which I didn't have when I was traveling, working with families, and producing events to promote schools. 

Storytelling is a passion of mine, whether on paper, digital, or on stage. When a storytelling community formed in my area, I became involved and started to win competitions, which led to me being asked to lead workshops.
Is there a project or accomplishment in your career that you’re most proud of?
I first got interested in live storytelling when I lived in New York City, but I wasn't ready to tell stories publicly then. More than a decade after I left New York City, I was invited back to tell a story on a stage in Manhattan. That was a really cool night. I got great feedback on the story I told and met some wonderful people in the storytelling community.
What do you like most about storytelling?
Storytelling combines my love of writing with my love of being on stage. I'm also passionate about helping others tell their stories, and I believe strongly that telling stories, especially about everyday life, is a way to build and sustain community and promote empathy.
What do you think is the biggest lesson that can be applied from storytelling to everyday life?
We all tell stories every day. It's a human instinct to share our experiences with those close to us. But telling stories can also help us change minds, sell products, and inspire action. Telling compelling stories is a valuable skill to have for personal and professional growth. It's also fun and all of the people I've met through the storytelling community are wonderful.
We often talk about girls developing into changemakers at Ellis what does that mean to you? How are you a changemaker?
Changemakers are people who are not satisfied with the status quo. I don't know if I was born that way, or if Ellis made me that way, but as a lifer, I always have a hard time separating my personality from the gifts Ellis gave me! When I see a problem, I tackle it. That can take many forms. I've done front-line activism to block a pipeline and I've done behind the scene coalition building to support women's health. 
What is the most important lesson you learned at Ellis?
I learned to write at Ellis. When it came to writing, I was nurtured, I was pushed, and I was praised. In other subjects, I didn't always get the best grades, but I think my teachers knew I was always doing my best work, even when the material was challenging for me. I liked that I was more than my grades at Ellis, that was huge for my confidence and intellectual curiosity.
Where can people find you/your work?
My writing can be seen in TeenVogue.com, The HuffPost, The Washington Post/On Parenting, Salon, and several other outlets. My debut novel, WASTED PRETTY, was published in 2019 and the sequel will be released in 2021.

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