Profile Story: Elsa Robins
The woman behind the camera responsible for capturing the authentic moments on the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s campus is Elsa Robins. Robins, born in Boston, Massachusetts, was enabled to travel the globe by her father’s anthropology profession and her mother’s Rwandan heritage. “After I was born, we went back to [Burkina Faso in] Africa for 5 years. Until I was 5, my first language was French,” said Robins. Her enjoyment of photography and public speaking drew her toward journalism while attending high school in River Falls, Wisconsin. Robins’ passion is not so much the content of the news, rather the ability to talk to people of different backgrounds and share the most “devastating or joyous moments of their life.”
A 2013 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Robins’ connection to a Twin Cities reporter from WCCO, via her college internship, landed her a job in the news industry immediately. “I didn’t even walk at graduation,” said Robins. “I packed up my stuff two weeks before my classes ended, moved [to Duluth], and started working at KBJR.” Over the next six years, Robins worked as a reporter and multimedia journalist for news stations in Duluth, Chicago, and Green Bay. After working at several news stations around the country, she returned to Duluth and became a newsroom manager for KBJR. She wanted to launch her career as a reporter and work her way up the ladder whether that led her further into news management or producing content for larger businesses.
In November of 2015, Robins interviewed a Syrian refugee family about coming to America and produced a video about their experience while freelancing for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “It was just so moving, and I felt really honored to meet these people and be a vessel to tell their stories,” said Robins. Over time, Robins began to consider starting a family of her own and realized the intense lifestyle of a reporter wasn’t what she wanted. After having “several intense experiences,” she “looked at the job itself differently.” According to the former reporter, “While I think I’ve gained thick skin from being in the industry, that can kind of wear on you.”
In October 2018, the UWS Marketing and Communications Department welcomed Robins to their team. While the university relation specialists’ function is to write stories, “Elsa completes that puzzle in providing the visual aspects of content creation,” said UWS Director of Strategic Communications and Special Assistant to the Chancellor, Jordan Milan. “The experience she comes in with provides yet another set of eyes and ears to find stories.”
Similar to Robins’ past experience, there is not a “typical” day being UW-Superior’s associate digital media specialist. A precedent for her position at UWS did not exist, but Robins’ background prepared her “to figure out a lot of things out on [her] own and work with what’s given.” Rarely is she found in her office because she is on location for photo shoots. Not only does Robins provide digital content creation services for UWS, but she also manages the UWS YouTube channel, captions videos, and organizes digital content. Nonetheless, her projects bring the campus culture to life on UW-Superior’s social media. Robins strives to better herself personally and professionally, so long as she can explore her surroundings and use her creativity.