Former Collegian editor-in-chief and 2009 graduate Joy Pullmann received the Distinguished Alumna Award for Achievement in Journalism at the 70th Annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Sept. 24.
“Thank you to Dr. Arnn and the college for this honor,” said Pullmann, who is executive editor of The Federalist, an online news publication. “I don’t know that I deserve it, but I’ll do my best to use your name well.”
Pullmann, who lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, graduated with an English major and journalism concentration.
Pullmann said she loved to write from an early age — and knew she wanted to write for the rest of her life.
“I was going to college to be educated, to take the talent that I had, and make the most of it. I had a gut feeling that Hillsdale was where I would get the best education,” Pullmann said in a video prepared for the event. “What I loved about reporting in college was being a conduit for other people’s stories: How do you get people interested, how do you make sure it’s organized clearly, all those kinds of bits about grammar.”
Her groundbreaking research and reporting on school curriculum has propelled Pullmann to the forefront of education reform and solidified her journalistic success.
“I was one of the earliest people to even pay any attention to this thing called Common Core,” Pullmann said. “I happened to be someone just doing basic journalism, when no other outlets were doing basic journalism on this thing that really needed to completely overhaul a nationalized American education — I got a huge following, huge amount of readership, and that turned into a book.”
The book, “The Education Invasion: How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids,” came out in 2017. Pullmann described it as a grassroots investigation into a “federalized education scheme,” which left children less educated and more controlled.
In 2014, Pullmann was awarded the esteemed Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship for her reporting on education. Pullman’s classical, home-school roots inspired her to rally for a better version of the popular curriculum.
“People need to be more educated. Education is the formation of the human soul, and the kind of souls that you have in your country determine whether it can be self-governing,” she said. “I want my children to be self-governing, I want their neighbors to be self-governing.”
So, Pullmann and her husband Nathaniel ’09 started Redeemer Classical School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 2016. What was once a one-room schoolhouse is now a four-room schoolhouse, where Nathaniel serves as headmaster.
Pullmann, a mother of six, gets out of bed at 5:30 a.m., edits around 6,000 words between 6 – 8 a.m., answers emails, then heads to the kitchen to care for her six children.
“I get a lot of questions from young women: How do you do it?” Pullmann said in the video. “I say, ‘try not to.’”
In addition to her work at The Federalist, Pullmann is a research fellow for education policy at the Heartland Institute and contributes to the New York Times, the Washington Examiner, and National Review. She has appeared on numerous news shows, such as “Fox and Friends” and the “John Stossel Show.”
“When you have a heart committed to things that are good, for me, it’s really gotten me through a lot,” Pullmann said. “Doing all the things that I do, it’s a battle the whole time. You don’t have the heart to fight without someone having shown you what’s worth fighting for. That’s what I got from my classes at Hillsdale — they taught me what to love.”
Despite her busy schedule and extensive resume, Pullmann said she’s able to remain grounded in goodness, largely due to her Hillsdale education.
“I feel like Hillsdale is a shining city on the hill. It’s this beautiful place that is so unlike almost everywhere else that we have in the world,” she said. “Right when I wished I could go back and do it all over again.”
Before receiving the award, Pullmann met with journalism students in the office of The Collegian, offering advice on everything from breaking into the media to balancing the obligations of work and home.
Other award recipients included Jared Veldheer ’09, Ron Gladnick ’83, and Howard Smith ’68, for their achievements in professional athletics, entrepreneurship and leadership, and business management, respectively.