This past week, I had the wonderful pleasure to participate in the Washington Journalism and Media Conference with about 280 national youth correspondents from all over the US (some from foreign countries) that share the same interest in Journalism as me. The conference was based out of George Mason University, however most of the things we did and places we went were in Washington D.C.
All the correspondents were broken down into color groups and I was placed in the Orange group otherwise known as the Tangerine Dream Team. Our awesome group was led by Sue(a recently retired high school journalism advisor from ND) and Kailey(2015 WJMC alum who is now studying communications at Auburn). Thanks to their leadership, I was able to quickly get acclimated and not have too many problems. I also was able to meet and get to know many new friends whether they were in my group or in another one of the color groups. However, I got mad at myself as the week went on because I felt that I was not being as social as I wanted to be. For instance I mostly stuck to myself and did not get in many conversations with other correspondents.
Despite my social problems, the week was still very much worth it thanks to how much information I absorbed about the field of Journalism as well as the places I got to go. This conference featured a jampacked schedule as I was busy from 7 Am to 11 Pm every day of the conference.
One of the highlights of WJMC for me and something I will always remember is the sheer amount of qualified people in the Journalism industry who took time out of their lives to come speak to us and share their advice for getting into and thriving in the Journalism industry. The speakers who I most enjoyed were Scott Jackson who talked about how it took him a long while before he got his current job as a voice of the Redskins and April Ryan. Ryan really intrigued me since I found it amazing to be listening to a journalist who’s job allows her to get in the White House and interview Trump and members of his administration. I also found Brian Lamb(C-Span) intriguing because he stressed how crucial the power of storytelling is to a Journalist. Instead of hogging the podium and just speaking like all the other speakers did, Lamb asked us the question of “Have you ever interviewed your mom and dad”. Then he let correspondents share stories of their family history and realize for themselves the power of storytelling. I found all the correspondents stories to be very intriguing and inspiring and I wanted to share where my mom’s family came from but I did not get called on.
Another thing I enjoyed was visiting the newseum for a second time as once again I found all the exhibits on news and its history to be extremely interesting. However in the museum my bag will all my belongings fell apart and so I had to get a sales bag to temporarily contain my things for the rest of the long day. That day(Monday) also included an extremely pretty twilight tour of the famous monuments specifically the WWII and Lincoln ones.
Thursday upped the ante of coolness because I got to go to the Capital and meet Rep. Barbara Lee who reps my home area of the East Bay in the House of Representative. SHe has been doing it for 20 years which makes her one of the longest tenured in Congress. Rep. Lee was in a very important appropriations meeting so I was only able to get a quick picture with her. When I quickly asked her what is it like to work in Congress, she responded, “busy, always busy.” However, I was able to talk with her staffers Kelsea and Chris. Chris was the one who has been in touch with me and I learned that he recently graduated from SJND back in 2011. I also got to go on a free tour of the Capital with a tour group and see the statue rooms. I would have liked to get to go in the House or Senate chambers but I would have needed a special pass which I didn’t have. Then, we had a gala that evening which was like icing on the cake. It was really fun and just a great ending to an unbelievable week.
Overall I want to thank Ms. Elena Johnson and my parents for giving me the opportunity to attend this once in a lifetime experience that I do not think I will ever forget. Because of how amazing a time I had at the program, I will certainly consider staying involved with the program in some way in the future. Lastly I want to say to all high school kids who get an invitation to this conference in the mail should strongly consider attending this as it changed my life and I learned so much advice from leaders in the field that will help me be more prepared if I do decide to embark on a career in the Journalism field.