Meet Sofia Gilmore-Montero, a senior at the University of New Orleans. She is carving out a place in the competitive world of writing with hard work and forward thinking. Simultaneously, she savors the beauty and culture of New Orleans.
Along with a double-major in Spanish and English, Gilmore-Montero is the news editor and distribution manager for Driftwood, the university’s newspaper. In addition, Sofia is also the Spanish conversation group leader and a member of multiple honor societies.
The New Orleans native incorporates her love of Irish and Viking mythology, history and traveling into her writing. She also recently started a blog, “A Southern Mélange,” which will feature articles about New Orleans’ culture and history, as well as editorial opinion pieces. Sofia is currently working on a piece about the mythological influences behind the names of streets throughout the city of New Orleans.
Along with her interest in mythology, history and traveling, Sofia also has her hand on the pulse of pop culture, and her unique knowledge of a wide variety of topics, along with her talent for writing, will propel her future career as an editor in the publishing and magazine industries.
Miranda Maples: What do you love most about writing for Driftwood?
Sofia Gilmore-Montero: I love being part of the Driftwood team because we all act like family. No matter how much we disagree on some aspects of production, we all end up laughing together in the end!
MM: Talk about some of your favorite articles you have written for Driftwood.
SGM: I really enjoyed writing the articles about NASA, “The Shape of Water” and NOLA winter beauty essentials. “The Shape of Water” article was really fun for me because I love dissecting pop culture and using art to get across social issues. The NOLA winter beauty essentials were fun because I absolutely love all things involving beauty products.
I also enjoyed writing the editorials about color-coding of Legos and sexual attraction in humans. I actually got the chance to interview the SOFIA project scientist while I was in California visiting my boyfriend over Mardi Gras break.
The NASA team personnel who worked with me were very professional but also really cared that I understood what was going on. Their focus was on providing articulate explanations to my questions in order to ensure that Driftwood’s audience would clearly understand the purpose of the SOFIA project.
I enjoy writing about fickle subjects like beauty, but also culture, which I turn into column pieces. Some of my favorite editorials include sexual selection and its role in society and how we attract people.
MM: What are your career goals after graduation?
SGM: I am going to attend graduate school at the University of New Orleans for professional writing. I am hoping that eventually, I will become an editor for a publishing company, beauty magazine or National Geographic.
I would also like to be in a PR team or learn how to manage social media outlets for a large company. Ideally, my dream job would be naming nail polishes, but that’s not realistic!
MM: It’s so cool and interesting that you want to be an editor for a beauty magazine, National Geographic or a publishing company. Could you see yourself working at magazines like Vogue or Marie Claire while also working for National Geographic?
SGM: In my ideal future, I would be working at a beauty magazine while contributing to National Geographic. I am a multi-faceted person; I love beauty as a result of being part of the YouTube generation, but I also love nature, bugs and animals.
My dad instilled this in me when I was a kid. My mom also contributed to my interest in material such as National Geographic because she spent a lot of summers in my grandfather’s hometown, a scenic little village in Northern Spain. This made me fall in love with spectacular views and traveling to new places.
MM: You land one of your dream jobs as an editor for a publishing company: What would be your preferred genre to edit?
SGM: Fantasy! Hands down. I would also enjoy reading and editing adult and young adult fantasy novels, as well as editing Manga.
MM: Attending college full-time and working for the newspaper must be very challenging. How do you juggle all of your responsibilities?
SGM: My life has been incredibly busy since starting at Driftwood. I take 15 credit hours every semester, work at Driftwood and work a few hours a week at a daycare. I pretty much don’t have time for anything before 9 p.m. during the week. It’s really hard.
We are understaffed, so all of the editors must write about twice as much as what is stated in our contract. I mean, you can’t just not have articles, so you have to write up material.
MM: What do you love most about New Orleans? What are some your favorite places to frequent in this wonderful city?
SGM: I think New Orleans is one of the most unique places in the South. Obviously, I am biased! My favorite places to go are the Blind Pelican, Audubon Zoo, Old Metairie Cemetery — I know that sounds weird, but it’s a cool place — the Lakefront by UNO, Longue View House and Gardens and, of course, Café du Monde. I love that everyone is different!
I spent a semester at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, and everyone was really nice there, but it just wasn’t NOLA. NOLA is a special place that is so very European compared to the rest of Louisiana and the south. The food, culture, history and locations are all part of what makes it an amazing place to be.
I think what I love best about New Orleans is that people will holler on the streets at you, and you don’t even know them. People talk to you in line at the grocery store to pass the time or just to be nice. It’s normal to talk to a complete stranger about things in your life you might not even tell your friends or family.
MM: Elaborate on your love of Viking and Irish lore and history.
SGM: I have around 300 books in my room on Irish and Viking lore, history and mythology. I also collect medieval-style weapons. So far, I have a Claymore sword, a battleax, a dirk and a katana. I have been to many places in England and Ireland. I absolutely love Stonehenge, Avebury, Bru na Boinne, the Hill of Tara and Trim Castle.
MM: Who are some your favorite authors?
SGM: William Butler Yeats, William Blake, J.R.R. Tolkien, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Paulo Coelho. Some of my favorite books as a teen were Meg Cabot’s “Mediator” series, the “Fablehaven” series, “Hex Hall” series and any book involving female espionage and assassins. I still enjoy the fantasy genre immensely, but I also love books involving female assassins or spies because it’s thrilling to see strong female characters.
MM: What are some of your favorite shows to binge-watch?
SGM: I love watching episodes of anime and often binge “Naruto,” “Shetland,” “Midsomer Murders” and any documentaries I can find involving castles, Vikings or the Celts. Also, the BBC show “Sherlock” is another favorite one to binge!
MM: What other hobbies or activities help you unwind?
SGM: I just recently started a blog, which is not super relaxing, but it is fun. Apart from watching Netflix and YouTube to unwind, I really like spending time with my family. I also love going around town with my boyfriend, painting my nails, looking up name meanings and researching mythology.