When Aaron Rupar ’06 enrolled in a freshman political science course at Hamline, the last thing he could expect was that the class’s teaching assistant, Graham Lampa ’05, would someday secure him an invite to the White House.
But flash forward 14 years, and that is exactly what’s happened as the two alumni continue to make names for themselves at the intersection of media and national politics.
Rupar, who previously worked as an editor at Vox and ThinkProgress, found new success on his own this past year as an independent journalist by developing a newsletter through Substack – an independent publishing platform that has gained significant momentum over the past five years.
Throughout his career in journalism, Rupar has used Twitter to amass a large following by threading video clips with contextual information.
“A lot of the writing I do is an extension of the stuff I'm tweeting about, so if people are into my tweets, they're probably going to like the newsletter as well,” Rupar said.
Rupar is also a brand ambassador for SnapStream – the software company he uses to clip videos and directly post them to Twitter. He was originally introduced to the tool by fellow Hamline alumnus Graham Lampa.
"Graham is a very technically savvy person,” Rupar said. “He had a lot of ideas for how I could better do video journalism online going back to before he was working at SnapStream.”
Rupar said the two knew each other during their time at Hamline, but didn’t become close friends until after college, when they were reunited in Washington D.C.
Though Rupar moved back to Minnesota in 2021, the two alumni continue to collaborate. Most recently, Lampa connected Rupar with Ariana Mushnick, White House Director of Digital Rapid Response, who was organizing an Oct. 21 White House event for progressive online journalists.
“I think mainly the White House wanted to have people like me out there to put a face to the Twitter avatars and network,” Rupar said. “They also had a briefing component which was administration officials telling the story, as they see it, of the administration and their successes – things like that.”
In addition to the briefing, Rupar’s visit included a tour of the White House, plenty of networking, and opportunities to meet White House personnel like Chief of Staff Ron Klain and second gentleman Doug Emhoff.
"It was an honor to be invited,” Rupar said. “It was basically two alums working in tandem to make this happen, with Graham pulling a lot of the strings for me. So here we are, all these years later, still working together. Little did we know, when we first met and he was a TA in my freshman political science class, that 20 years later we’d still be collaborating and working together. That's a cool thing and I think it speaks well for Hamline."