Episode 22-“Your VU: Beyond the Classroom” by Zoe Rankin

This episode features an independently produced piece of audio by Vanderbilt undergraduate Zoe Rankin. Zoe produces a podcast called Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, where she highlights the passions and experiences of Vanderbilt students outside the classroom and brings light to social justice issues through education and storytelling. In Your VU Episode 6: Vanderbilt Prison Project, Zoe interviews Jenny Pigge, a Vanderbilt undergraduate who is the President of the Vanderbilt Prison Project.

Because this is independently produced audio, Zoe told us she had to come up with her own goals, outline, and rubric. As you listen to this episode, take note of the three questions Zoe asks on each of her podcasts, “What is the issue?”, “What is your story or connection to the issue”, and “how can people get involved or take the next steps to learn more?”. Now Rolling, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, Episode 6: Vanderbilt Prison Project by Zoe Rankin, featuring Jenny Pigge.

Zoe started podcasting when she was the student host on the Dean of the Commons podcast titled Commons Cast. Through Commons Cast, she got to interview the commons Faculty Heads of House and RAs, amongst others. This opportunity ignited a spark to learn more about Vanderbilt students outside the classroom and the desire to use podcasting as a medium to educate. Then, with the help of Vanderbilt Student Media, Zoe created Your VU: Beyond the Classroom.

This audio is a great example of the interview-style podcasting that has surfaced on previous episodes of VandyVox. Zoe told us at VandyVox that she outlines all of her podcast episodes in the three-question format because it’s important to learn about the issue before bringing in the individual student’s context. Finally, she likes to end with ideas for listeners to educate themselves or become involved with ideas from the guest star. Zoe chooses her topics and guest stars based on gaps in her own knowledge she wants to fill and does her own research prior to recording each episode.

She said that doing your due diligence and creating thoughtful questions prior to recording is vital to maintaining a cohesive structure throughout the episode. When asked about any insights, tips, or tricks she’s learned while podcasting, she stressed the importance of active listening, and while it’s crucial to have research-based questions prepared, being able to listen and respond can lead to conversations that you couldn’t anticipate. Balancing that prepared structure with active listening and the flexibility to go off-course, is what makes Zoe’s audio connected and flowing.

Zoe tackles some important social issues throughout her podcast, and I urge to you go listen to more of her audio. A link to Zoe’s podcast, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom, can be found below. Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about the Vanderbilt Prison Project, the link to the Vanderbilt Prison Project website is also below.

Vanderbilt Student Media:



Zoe Rankin’s podcast, Your VU: Beyond the Classroom:



Vanderbilt Prison Project: