In 2014, Sara Patterson nervously walked into the Association of LGBTQ Journalists Convention for the first time, an annual event that awards LGBTQ journalists’ excellence in journalism.
Chosen along with nine other students to be a part of a student workshop there, Patterson received interviewing tips, shared her resume and mingled with media professionals.
Earlier this month, Patterson returned to the conference as a HuffPost podcast producer to receive the Excellence in Podcast Award for her project “IVFML: Becoming Family.”
“It was kind of a homecoming you could say,” Patterson said. “When I was there as a Temple student, I was just so nervous and intimidated because I didn’t have a whole lot of experience … To go now and socialize with them as peers was very cool.”
The 2015 journalism alumna started working at HuffPost in June 2018, after the first season of IVFML concluded. She came on board as one of the two full-time producers of the second season.
“I kind of do everything but talk on the podcast,” Patterson said. “I actually love editing, it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.”
Patterson first started producing at TUTV, Temple’s digital cable station. Her former TUTV advisor, Karen Turner, relied on her as a producer for a public affairs show “A Broader View.”
“She was my go-to person,” said Turner, also an associate journalism professor. “I depended on her to pull the show together and stay on top of things.”
As a student, Patterson was a great storyteller regardless of the medium, said Neil Ortiz, a journalism professor who taught her in two journalism courses.
“One thing I always tell students is that your narrative is the most important thing in terms of your reporting,” he said. “Her narratives were always excellent.”
Patterson now uses her skills to produce her podcast “IVFML: Becoming Family” featuring stories of infertility and the avenues couples take to have children.
The first season of the podcast followed a married couple Anna Almendrala and Simon Ganz while they were going through rounds of In Vitro Fertilization, a medical procedure helping couples to have children by fertilizing an egg by sperm outside the body. The second season, produced by Patterson, featured the birth of the couple’s first daughter and subsequent IVF rounds for a second child.
“We wanted both [Almendrala and Ganz] to be active characters in the show because the first season was so much about them,” Patterson said.
Since Patterson started working on the show, the podcast included other voices and narratives like a young woman whose chemotherapy may cause her to become infertile, a couples’ experience with gestational surrogacy and a man’s experience with donating his sperm, but all share a common thread: starting a family is hard and no one’s journey is the same.
“It’s about queer family formation,” Patterson said. “I don’t have kids and I don’t plan on having them any time soon, but as a queer person, there’s obviously a lot more that goes into it than for heterosexual couples.”
Patterson and her team won the Excellence in Podcast award for their episode “We’re both going to be moms,” which is her favorite. The episode features a couple, Shea Gilliam and Sienna Gilliam, who conceived a child together around the time that Shea, who previously identified as a man, came out as transgender.
Its second and last season aired in October due to one of the hosts leaving HuffPost.
Patterson currently works on producing “Here to Make Friends,” a podcast which recaps the ABC reality show “The Bachelor” from a feminist’s perspective.
Although podcasts weren’t Patterson’s original career path, she likes where the journey has taken her.
“I get to be in the room with a bunch of smart, funny people as they have interesting conversations,” Patterson said. “I have a hand in creating the atmosphere, I get to be a fly on the wall, and then I put it out there for more people to experience it. I’ve met so many people from all walks of life who’ve had all different life experiences, and for 30 minutes, or an hour, or however long we have them in the studio, I get to listen to them tell their stories.”