Purdue Libraries and School of Information Studies News

MakeYourStory Student Podcast Contest Winner Shares Her Journey to Leadership

June 9th, 2022

Bridget Arnold
Bridget Arnold, 2022.

In February 2022, we introduced you to Bridget Arnold, a 3rd year Anthropology and Organizational Leadership major with minors in Spanish and Design & Innovation. She had just won our MakeYourStory narrative student podcast contest for her charming story, “How Tiny Homes Help Me Explain My Majors.” Well, what’s an Episode 1 without an Episode 2? Libraries is thrilled to announce that Bridget has returned to podcasting with a brand new award-winning episode, “How small moments had Big impacts on my TEDxPurdueU leadership journey.” In this episode, get to know the 2021–2022 executive director of TEDxPurdueU, Ray Bradley, as he talks about his leadership journey within TEDx. At the same time, Bridget is on her own journey. Follow along as she explores the small and seemingly insignificant moments that encouraged her to become the executive director of TEDxPurdueU for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The student podcast contest is part of the MakeYourStory podcast series created by Libraries and the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Following the success of 2020-2021’s Diversity and Making podcast and video series, a collaboration between Libraries and the Asian American and Asian Resource and Cultural Center, the MakeYourStory series aims to introduce Purdue students to the beauty of oral storytelling, the craft of writing a compelling narrative, and the tools needed to effectively deliver that narrative through the popular medium of podcasting.


We caught up with Bridget to ask her about her more about podcasting and what she is up to this summer…

How have your storytelling and podcast skills grown or developed since we last talked after your first winning episode? 

In my last episode, it was just me talking and telling my own narrative, but what I was really excited about this time around was having the opportunity to invite a guest along and get to weave our narratives together. I was really thankful to Ray for making the time to talk with me. Admittedly, it was a little last minute, and we were in the booth talking until close to midnight, so I’m really grateful that it worked out so well.

What is your personal tip for creating a great narrative podcast?

I think the most helpful think for writing a great narrative podcast not being so committed to your first idea that you can’t adapt when you find a better story. Originally, I had a completely different lineup for this podcast, and then realized that it didn’t tell the story I wanted to share. I ended up scrapping about five pages worth of text and switching gears completely to look at my TEDx experience instead. Another thing that’s a testament to opportunistic flexibility was talking to Ray before the interview and making the connections between what I wanted to say through the poem and what his relationship to the story was through his favorite TEDx talk. Looking for those details and seeing the small threads the weave into the greater web is going to give your narrative that much more substance and emotional pull.


In your opinion, why should young people give podcasting a shot? What does it free you to do that you can’t necessarily capture in other forms of media? 

I think the beautiful thing about podcasting is that you’re really heavily relying on words and words alone. There is a lot you can do with sound effects and voice inflection, but at the end of the day, you’re in someone’s ear and you have to make every word count. In doing an unscripted interview, both Ray and I had to be really intentional about saying what we meant and conveying our message meaningfully and concisely, and if you go through all my outtakes you’ll see it was something both of us struggled with at different points. That being said, you have so much more freedom to focus on crafting a narrative. It’s almost like an audiobook, and while that intentionality is an added challenge, it’s really satisfying to get into the weeds of refining and perfecting your message. For someone like me who really enjoys the storytelling, that was definitely the most gratifying part of the process.

Bridget Arnold
Bridget Arnold spends her summer as a National Park Service ranger.

What are you up to this summer? 

Currently I am living and working in Yosemite National Park and a ranger in the interpretation and education division. While my job is specific to Spanish-speaking visitors as well, interpretation in this context is about interpreting the history, culture, geology, and ecology of a space to others. So, it’s essentially a different kind of storytelling. (Are you sensing a pattern here?) I’ll be doing two-hour tram tours through the valley, as well as a 90-minute bear walk, and an hour-long junior ranger program, alongside my duties in the visitor center answering questions or walking through the camp grounds on bear roves informing people about proper food storage and bear management. So far, it’s been an absolutely incredible experience, and I’m only about three weeks in. The landscape and the people here are just spectacular, and I have a feeling I’ll come away from this summer with plenty more stories to tell any future listeners!

We can’t wait to see the giant leaps Bridget takes in her new role as executive director of TEDxPudueU this fall as she continues to make her own story.