Biography -- Margaret Menge
I was born in a college town -- Waterville, Maine -- where my father was a political science professor at Colby College, and grew up in another college town -- Madison, Wisconsin -- where I lived with my family until moving to South Bend, Indiana, in 1988.
I started college as a part-time student at Indiana University-South Bend while working full-time as a waitress. The night speech class I took the first semester was my favorite because of the mix of ages. I was one of the youngest at 18: The oldest students in the class were in their 60s. What we all had in common was that we'd sacrificed to be there, and were thankful to be there and to have the opportunity to learn.
I transferred to Bloomington in the fall of 1990 to pursue a dream I'd had since the age of about 15 of studying Russian. I lived in Forest Quadrangle, which was an all-girls dorm at the time, and rode in the Little 500 bike race that spring. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I'm forever thankful to the IU Foundation for its commitment to making this incredible event happen every year.
I studied Russian for three years, including in the Summer Language Workshop. In my sophomore year, I was fortunate to be part of an experimental class that formed an exchange group with the former Soviet Union called IU New Exchange. I was chosen to lead the group, and in the first year, we sent four IU students to Moscow to work as teachers of English in public schools. The second year, I went on the exchange, and lived in an apartment in Moscow, working as a teacher of English in school #734. This was in the year 1993-1994.
I returned to Bloomington in the summer of 1994, and in the spring of 1995 graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science and a certificate from the Russian and East European Institute.
After graduating, I went to work in Washington, D.C., on Russia issues for a foreign policy consulting firm headed by Sen. Lugar's former chief of staff, and then on Capitol Hill for Rep. Mark Souder.
I returned to school in 2001, earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin. The house where I lived in Madison is indicated with the red arrow, above.
I've worked as a journalist since 2002, mostly in New York and Florida, including for U.S. News & World Report, the Miami Herald Company and UPI. I've contributed to dozens of publications, including the New York Observer, Columbia Journalism Review, the Civil War Book Review, the American Conservative and the Wisconsin State Journal.
In 2017 I returned to Bloomington where I live a block from campus with my 11-year-old son.
I work as a freelance journalist, covering Indiana state government, and am an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review.