Student-led podcast hits ground running

Juniors Katherine Finch and Katherine Cornett speak out about mental health awareness in their new podcast: Afterclassers

Student-led podcast hits ground running

Elena Marsh, Staff Writer

As the students of Wake Forest face yet another semester hijacked by the COVID-19 virus, two young women are breaching the conversation surrounding what it means to be a productive student in a pandemic.

The Afterclassers is a new podcast started by Katherine Finch, a junior at Wake Forest, and Katherine Cornett, a sophomore at Cornell. Both of these young women possess stellar grades, expert organization skills and herald a long list of extracurricular activities.

In weekly episodes released every Sunday, the Katherines invite their listeners along for the ride as they discover new tips and tricks for leading a successful life no matter the circumstance.

“Nobody ever thought a global pandemic was going to happen,” says Finch. “So, I think the biggest lesson I learned was that you can work so hard and you can have goals but you still don’t know what is going to happen or where you are going to end up.”

Finch hopes that through this podcast she can share the keys to success that she has absorbed and applied in her time in high school and college.

“The tools that I am sharing with people are stuff that has helped my life that will stay with me forever,” says Finch.

Cornett, while sharing a similar mindset to her co-host, remembers her time at Cornell last semester and having to prioritize a work-life balance that she felt used to come naturally to her.

“I focused a lot on working and then taking time to myself to read a book or watch a movie,” says Cornett. “I didn’t have access to the things I normally would have during the semester, so I had to be more focused on my mental health.”

An imitable characteristic of The Afterclassers is the contemplative philosophy behind the podcast itself. The attitude and approach to the academic world feels fresh, inspired and aimed at a generation of students raised behind computer screens and learning in isolation.

The conversations between Finch and Cornett emphasize the importance of internal success related to growing yourself and toward goals. Furthermore, the focus is placed on good feelings associated with the work accomplished as opposed to the grade received for that work.

“It’s really not about getting the perfect grades or setting some sort of crazy goal; sometimes life gets in the way,” says Finch. “You need to have a point in your life where you say, ‘I’ve worked as hard as I possibly could and realize school is a work in progress and there is always something I can improve’.”

Tyler Curtis is a sophomore at Wake Forest with an intended philosophy major. He is an avid podcast listener who believes that The Afterclassers relaxed conversation style and positive message is exactly what students need during this time.

“It is easy to lose track of the ultimate goal of why we’re here,” says Curtis. “It truly is because of the love of the pursuit of learning and that was something that [the podcast] really reminded me of as I’m sitting here getting ready for this new semester.”

They may have the same first name, but their areas of study could not be more different. Katherine Finch is majoring in philosophy with a minor in politics and international affairs and dance while Katherine Cornett is in the engineering program at Cornell and majors in earth and atmospheric studies with a minor in public policy.

Their differing fields of study in the Humanities and STEM make for lengthy conversations where listeners feel like they have something to learn from both of the hosts.

“Those are two very different areas of study, so they have varied views and that does allow, in my opinion, for a lot more diverse tips and things to talk about,” says Curtis.

The relationship between Finch and Cornett stretches all the way back to their high school days in New York City. Their rapport is certainly a sizable part of why The Afterclassers feels so natural and welcoming.

Listeners cannot help but feel as if they are joining a conversation between two supportive women whose entire purpose is to offer advice and aid to every kind of student.

“It almost feels like it’s a conversation that you are sitting in on and I really enjoy that kind of laid-back style,” says Curtis.

The co-hosts and listeners agree that the strongest part of their podcast is their friendship. Finch and Cornett share many past experiences helping one another through school and mark that as the foundation for their show.

“I think the podcast works so well because Katherine and I are such good friends,” says Cornett. “We already had the same work ethic and philosophy when it came to schoolwork, so it was natural to start something like this.”

Both of the women are used to helping one another through high school and college and hope to take that spirit into each and every episode no matter the topic.

“I was in the grade above her and so when I went to college, I would give her advice and she would give me advice in things because she really loved STEM and I loved the humanities,” says Finch. “We always had a very supportive relationship.”

Based on the episodes released so far it is clear that the goals of Finch and Cornett are within reach. There is much potential for the exact kind of compassionate, valuable and community-based show the two young students want The Afterclassers podcast to become.