Hello, neighbor! My name is Maria Anto (she/her) and I am a recipient of the Honors College Public Service Internship Award. From singing in the Heinz Chapel Choir to viewing fabulous productions as a Pitt Arts Host, I am incredibly grateful to be a student at the University of Pittsburgh. As I start my senior year this fall, I will be working towards a nonfiction writing major, a media studies minor, and a certificate in children’s literature.
Originally from the small town of Ligonier, PA, I grew up wedged between three siblings in an old farmhouse. Like many other kids of the 2000s, I spent my childhood visiting the library with Arthur the aardvark, swinging from vines with Curious George, and developing an innocent crush on Big Bird from Sesame Street (what? just me?). I also concocted fantastical productions of my own: the Kubota tractor converted into a fluorescent time machine, the clearing in the woods transformed into Magitopia, and my big brother — as a rule — was cast as the cackling villain.
After years of soul-searching, telling people “perhaps I’ll go to law school,” and transferring colleges *two* times, I realized that children’s media was the perfect blend of everything I love: music, children, theatre, writing, and pedagogy.
Upon receiving the Public Service Internship Award, I was determined to get my foot in the door of the production world. After six months of frantic LinkedIn messages, trips to the Career Center, and a humbling smatter of rejections, I received a call from GBH — the PBS member station of Boston. Home to Zoom (the kid’s show, not the exhausted mode of social interaction), Julia Child’s The French Chef, and Curious George, GBH is the largest creator of public media in America.
As a children’s programming intern at GBH, I have the wonderful opportunity to rotate through shows like Arthur, Pinkalicious, and Molly of Denali — a Peabody Award-winning animated PBS Kids series. From sitting in on voice recordings to reviewing scripts and music, I will be at the forefront of the creative development process. I will also be responsible for conducting research, creating social media content, and providing administrative support to GBH producers and production assistants.
When I’m not marking up scripts about wombats or brainstorming names for a crochety iguana, you might find me playing disc golf at Schenley Park, reading The New Yorker alongside my cat Armand, or willing my meager herb garden not to die. I will also be singing in Creative Arts Fellow, Chloe Weiss’s, choral ensemble over the summer!
Additionally, I will be busy crafting my Fulbright Cambodia Teaching Assistant application. Post-graduation, I would love to volunteer abroad. Not only would this experience widen my western Pennsylvanian world-view, but it would help me create more diverse and inclusive children’s programming. One of the things I find so inspiring about public media is its ability to democratize information; by providing a child in Missouri with the same resources that a child in Massachusetts has, organizations like GBH can help bridge academic gaps while cultivating a future of informed citizens.
I am deeply grateful for the Honors team, professors, Pitt alumni, family, and friends who supported me throughout my internship journey. This process has been a brilliant first step towards establishing a career in the whimsy and hopefulness of children’s media.
Check back in a few weeks for a behind-the-scenes look at an up-and-coming PBS show! Also, be sure to read about the other Public Service Internship awardee, Mikaela Moore, as she helps improve health outcomes in the Atlanta area.