Bella Tabak is Fashionably Flying Through Newhouse

In her seemingly rare moments of spare time as a Newhouse School student and co-editor of University Girl magazine, Bella Tabak can be found being launched through the air during athletic events at the JMA Wireless Dome as a member of the Syracuse University Cheer Team. 

a person poses in a cheerleading uniform

Tabak was so busy one day this past semester that she even showed up at Newhouse in her cheer gear before sprinting to the Dome to assume her lofty role as Cheer Team flyer. She was determined not to miss class.  

“I try and balance it, but sometimes I have to [prioritize] one over the other,” said Tabak, who will be a junior in the fall. “But if I could be in two places at once, I definitely would be.” 

Like many of her many Newhouse classmates, Tabak balances academics, extracurriculars and personal interests in filling her schedule. Those three areas intersect with her work at University Girl, fulfilling a passion for writing and desire to bring sustainable fashion practices to the forefront. 

A magazine, news and digital journalism (MND) major, Tabak began her journey with University Girl the summer before starting college at Syracuse. When trying out for the Syracuse Cheer Team in her senior year of high school, the eastern Connecticut native heard from a friend on the team who also worked at University Girl. She recommended Tabak for the staff, too.  

cheerleaders pose in a formation on an athletic field
Tabak (middle, top row) cheers on the Orange as a member of the Syracuse University Cheer Team.

“I ended up following [University Girl] and they posted something about how they were taking summer interns. I said, ‘Well, I’m not on campus yet, but I’ll just see. The worst that they could say was no,’” Tabak explained. “Then I ended up interning for them over the summer.” 

Less than two years later, she’s the co-editor-in-chief alongside MND senior Ellie Batten, who graduated this May. They make editorial decisions and provide direction to writers, editors, designers and photographers.  

Tabak’s favorite part of the job is writing and giving feedback to other writers.  

“Being able to make sure that my vision for my own piece is achieved – because I’m the one running the show – is very, very nice,” she said. “So much goes into [the magazine] and to be able to help guide all of the other, amazing talented women into creating something like the print magazine is super exciting.”  

Tabak was undeclared in the College of Arts and Sciences for her first year. Though she always loved writing in middle school and high school, she said she “never thought that it would be a profitable career for me, so I never really looked into it until I got to college.”  

a person in a black dress stands holding a magazine
Tabak at the launch party for the spring 2024 edition of University Girl magazine.

After spending her first year at Syracuse writing for University Girl, Tabak decided to pursue a career in fashion and pop culture journalism.  

“That’s when I was like, ‘I need to switch to Newhouse,’” she said, transferring into the school before the start of sophomore year in fall 2023.  

Within Newhouse, Tabak also joined the Fashion and Beauty Communications Milestone, a partnership between Newhouse and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). The program gives her priority access to Newhouse and VPA classes about the fashion and beauty industry. 

Using those resources, Tabak hopes to pursue a career in sustainable fashion journalism. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she researched fast fashion, which is cheap, trendy clothing that’s mass produced and quickly shipped to retail stores, leaving massive amounts of waste and pollution in its wake. 

“I found out about how horrible it is for the environment… so I started researching how I can stay away from this. I got super into thrifting,” she said.  

a person poses for a headshot
“Being able to make sure that my vision for my own piece is achieved – because I’m the one running the show – is very, very nice,” Tabak said.

Tabak took a course last semester about sustainable fashion. She said the course gave her the opportunity to combine her new knowledge of sustainable fashion with her passion for journalism. In the spring 2024 print edition of University Girl, which dropped May 3, Tabak wrote an article all about sustainability in fashion and reducing overconsumption, called “A Beginner’s Guide to Slow Fashion.”  

With the magazine finally out, Tabak jumps right into running the University Girl summer internship, which two years ago opened the magazine’s door for her. But she’s also reflecting on the work she’s done.

“Since the semester is over and I’ve looked back on all the stuff that I’ve accomplished with University Girl just this semester, I do feel really proud of myself because it takes so much.” 

Samantha Rodino is a sophomore in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.