never intended to go into journalism. As a kid, I wasn’t particularly gifted in writing and had little motivation towards academic pursuits.

What I wanted to do was theatre. After a stellar performance as Toto in The Wizard of Oz in my second-grade school musical, I was certain that my destiny would play out on stage.

Despite my certainty in this career path, it may have been hasty to plan out the rest of my life at age 7. Because if I’ve learned anything in the nine years since my theatrical debut, it’s that not everything goes as planned.

The summer before sixth grade, at 11 years old, I attended the Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop. Instead of tagging along with my mom, the journalism adviser at my middle school, I enrolled in beginning videography with Jim McCarthy. Armed with an iPad and a borrowed laptop, I learned alongside students who were a minimum of four years older than me, and easily more than a foot taller. 72 hours later, I was hooked.

Fast forward five years, and I’m the broadcast veteran on my newspaper staff, The Shield at McCallum High School. Seven-year-old me never would have guessed it, but I had adapted and grown as my interests changed — valuable skills that were pivotal in my production of broadcast news stories this year.

In June 2021, I was chosen as the online-co-editor-in-chief of the Shield staff which put me in an opportune position when it came to making videos. In this position, I’ve diversified multimedia coverage on our online website, but even more rewarding — I’ve taught others on staff about broadcast journalism. 

In a year where nothing went as planned, from ever-evolving school district policies to teacher and substitute shortages, school often felt up in the air. Being able to produce objective and meaningful news for my school community reminded me of the power of journalism to inform, support and inspire. ”

In many of my videos I worked with another staff member as a mentor to teach them about the technical execution and reporting differences in broadcast journalism. I gave a presentation to fellow staffers about how to make broadcast stories and worked one-on-one with my peers to help diversify both our coverage of events and talents on staff. 

Of course, this growth wasn’t without a few setbacks. I had to learn to let go of total control. Instead of staying up until 2 a.m. editing footage until the perfectionist in me was satisfied, I had to be OK with letting others take the reigns. 

It wasn’t easy, but it was incredibly gratifying. Because as my peers learned from me, I learned from them. I’ve become a better editor and a better teacher, which I know will continue to benefit me for years to come. 

The 2022-23 school year was my first in-person year of high school and my first in-person year on our news staff. After a year and a half of Zoom interviews and subject-submitted b-roll, I was excited to return to a sense of normalcy. Of course, jumping back in had its obstacles like remembering the process of covering events and conducting on-site interviews — but the reward was found in getting to tell stories and working with new people.

My work as online co-editor-in-chief was all about lessons learned. In a year where nothing went as planned, from ever-evolving school district policies to teacher and substitute shortages, school often felt up in the air. Being able to produce objective and meaningful news for my school community reminded me of the power of journalism to inform, support and inspire. 

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