Hillary Meister
Web person, writer, photographer, owner of dog

cartoon of me in sofa chair with a dog curled up on the floorI knew I wanted to do something with cameras, filming, writing when I was a child. As a toddler my wall scribbles took on storylines. In first grade, I illustrated my tall tale of going to the zoo with animal (stick) drawings. Throughout elementary school my science reports were book-length complete with charts, diagrams and cutout pictures from the Encyclopedia Britannica (much to my mother’s chagrin).

In fifth grade, I took over the bulletin board. I created an ocean scene complete with colorful, cut-out fish and coral. In sixth grade I worked on the school newspaper and again in middle school. I carted around a camera with me in high school and photographed all sorts of things. I took writing classes in college, worked on a literary magazine and wrote a song about aliens impregnating a dog and her alien puppies. For a short while, I studied oceanography at F.I.T. in Jensen Beach. I veered away from fish and went off to Colorado University in Boulder to study film. I had classes with Stan Brakhage, a well-known, avant-garde filmmaker (R.I.P. Mr. Brakhage). I returned to the University of Central Florida in Orlando to finish their film and television program. There, I earned a bachelor of arts (B.A.) in Film (RTV).

My first job, two weeks from graduating, was as a film editor at WFTV Channel 9, a local ABC affiliate TV station. I did film and photography there and then came my introduction to an Atari computer. After that, everything changed.

To learn the machine I built an electronic bulletin board and titled it The Cathouse (I had cats…). I was featured in computer magazines as one of very few females doing such a thing (it was a man’s world…). I received equipment and software from “fans” from all over the world. It was glorious.

This lead me to various jobs as an administrator who could work on a computer – but I make a lousy secretary (God bless them, I do not own those skills) and began tinkering with coding and other languages to figure things out. I also knew I would need to go back to school if I wanted any sort of career but I did not want to study computers (looking back, I wish I had). A friend who loved music like I did thought of going to graduate school in Athens, Georgia. We are huge R.E.M. fans and thought that would be amazing. So…

I earned a masters of English education (M.Ed.) at the University of Georgia in Athens to teach secondary school and worked full-time, while in Athens, at Flagpole Magazine as their music editor. Upon graduation, another friend who worked for Spin Magazine offered me a job working with her in New York City. During that time, a job offer came through to work for the Atlanta Journal Constitution to help with new products that they wanted to put online – it was their first online endeavor. While there we created (for Cox Interactive Media) yall.com, blackfamiles.com, fastball.com, ajc.com, accessatlanta.com, mp3.com and so many other sites I can’t even remember.

But it did not last long as the company began to dissolve. From there it has been a rollercoaster of a ride working for various media companies online (from the Cartoon Network to How Stuff Works), covering the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games as an on-the-street reporter for the AJC and other websites and then moving to San Francisco to build online communities for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia (I did not get to go to Australia, though). While at the same company once the Olympics ended I built an online community for Robin Williams (R.I.P.) on Audible.com and worked on building online communities for etrade.com and other sites (many of which don’t exist any longer). When that company melted away I moved to Modesto and worked for the Modesto Bee newspaper right before three huge national news stories: 9/11, the Chandra Levy (Gary Condit was the congressman from the Modesto area) murder investigation and the murder of Laci Peterson by her husband, Scott Peterson. The couple lived in Modesto. It was a tumultuous time, to say the least.

It went on from there… companies fold, there was a tech crash for a while, most companies were only doing contract work, etc.

Eventually, I landed a job in higher education and I’ve been there ever since.

It’s all related…

Born and raised…

…in Orlando, FL. but I live in Atlanta, GA.

I’ve had all the jobs!

I’ve been a… chicken fryer, sandwich maker, beer girl, maid, car washer, train station waitress, cast member at Disney World, food clerk at Sea World, dress clerk (for one day), street corner flower seller (oh, those teenage, high school jobs…), computer store salesgirl, freelance photographer, receptionist/secretary (for a week, I think) then…

During and after college…

cartoon that says Internet!…I worked as a local news reporter, AP stringer photographer, television film editor, news photographer, TV news studio camera girl, Chyron graphics operator, studio audio person, grip for documentary unit, on-location videographer/grip, music editor, music/entertainment writer, music producer, band manager, online content developer, online content manager, tech editor, Web product manager, online producer, online content strategist, online community manager, online chat coordinator, news producer and multimedia manager, online multimedia developer, online editor, online production technician, WordPress tech, social media manager, Web author, Web coordinator. Whew.

What I did during tech layoffs…

…graduated from PetSmart Splash training for dog bathing (it was a possible career change decision), worked as a pet sitter and dog walker, Ebayed and Amazoned it, transcribed boring corporate meetings, edited various types of copy for the Yellow Pages online, did some freelance writing, co-wrote a dog directory book for Atlanta (City Dog Atlanta), worked as QA for ajc.com, taught 9th grade English for a short time (I put that graduate degree to work…), wrote and photographed stuff for a series of business magazines, freelanced for a lot of newspapers, magazines and websites. Built websites for businesses (that no longer exist…), went to real estate school, went back to tech school for certificates… and finally…

Higher Education saved me…

I left the corporate world because I’d rather help make better humans than products. Thanks to Georgia Gwinnett College for giving me my start in higher education. I went from bears to panthers and am now the Web coordinator for the College of Education & Human Development. The College is part of Georgia State University. Go Panthers!

My Coeurs

Coeur Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek… most sci-fi and fantasy books, movies, TV.

Coeur Animals.

Coeur Nature, but not when it’s 90 degrees outside, unless I’m in…

Coeur Water — the beach, a pristine lake or clear spring on a boat, preferably.

Coeur Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales and estate sales.

Coeur Music.

Coeur Laughter.

Who are you?

Tell me something about yourself? What have you been in your life?

4 Responses

  1. Hi, Hillary. I’m looking for an interview you did with Lee Valentine Smith in about 2006 or 07…any idea where it might be? Thanks!!

  2. Hi Hillary. I’ve been trying to reach you to talk about having you rebuild my website. I am on the board of ISPI. Please contact me at my email below at your earliest as I am anxious to get started.

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