by Robert S. Benchley
As a staff writer for Mental Floss, Lucas Reilly ’13 has found the perfect fi t, a quirky magazine that promises to help you “feel smart again.”
A self-described “cultural omnivore,” he delights in the variety of assignments he covers for the print magazine, website, and blog. “How to Pick a Lock,” “7 Schools That Dropped Their Native American Nicknames,” and “What’s the Difference: Orchestra, Symphony, and Philharmonic?” illustrate the range.
Reilly, an English and music graduate, was an EXCEL Scholar, pianist for The Jazz Ensemble, and member of Concert Choir.
He connected with the magazine’s editors during junior year through an externship with Bob Bliwise ’76, a journalism instructor at Duke University and editor of Duke Magazine. Bliwise introduced Reilly to the Duke alums who launched Mental Floss. That connection resulted in a paid summer internship with the magazine, freelance writing assignments during his senior year, and what Reilly calls “the ultimate compliment”—a job offer a month after graduation.
“None of this would have happened without my externship,” says Reilly. “I knew very little about magazine journalism, but after three days with Bob I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”
Reilly cites two additional mentors: Suzanne Westfall, professor of English and theater, whose marginal notes on his papers helped him realize how much more he had to learn, and Ken Briggs, former visiting part-time instructor of English, who “taught me how to write concisely” in a journalism course.