At my age, I have found that the most commonly asked questions are "where do you want to go to college" and "what do you want to study?" I am proud to say, I have an answer to one of those questions.
I have always known what I wanted to be when I grew up, a writer. For most of my childhood I was convinced I was meant to be an author. I loved reading and writing, and so it was only logical. I had even decided that my brother would be my illustrator, because he possessed more artistic skill than I did. Let's put it this way, I will not be winning awards for my stick figures anytime soon.
However, it soon became clear that being an author required more than a love of writing and a desire to see my book on a best sellers list. It would require not only marketable ideas but also dedication and patience. Perhaps I would write a book one day but at the moment it was not the best career choice.
It was not until I enrolled in a journalism class last September that I discovered journalism could be the right career track for me. Despite being the only junior in a small class of seniors, I made friends and worked hard. I loved writing articles and studying print. I never could have imagined that I would be lucky enough to be nominated for the prestigious Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University. But I was.
I accepted my nomination, applied and was accepted. I waited anxiously for AP exams and Regents to be over so that my summer could truly begin. Before I knew it, July 10th had arrived. I was officially a national youth correspondent representing Kings Park High School at the conference.
Over the course of the week my fellow correspondents and I visited the Newseum, the Smithsonian museums, the National Press Club and Capitol Hill. We were the studio audience during a C-Span "Washington Journal" taping and were given the privilege of attending a question and answer session with Brian Lamb, the founder and CEO of C-Span.
We were treated to a variety of guest speakers such as Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd, Special Assistant to the President Josh Earnest and Hoda Kotb of the Today Show. We were encouraged to blog about our experiences, which is funny considering that I am blogging about the conference for the Patch now.
Throughout the week I was able to hear from professionals who work in all aspects of journalism and media. I reaffirmed my passion for journalism and received some invaluable advice. The advice that I took to heart was that from Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post. He said "try as many types of journalism as possible." I feel this is so important because there are so many kinds of journalism such as broadcast, print, and photo.
It is clear in this technological age that in order to discover his or her niche an aspiring journalist needs to give them all a fair shot. For example, the Newseum in D.C. is a museum dedicated to news of all kinds. It has a fantastic interactive studio. In it, you can stand in front of a green screen and read off of a teleprompter. For five dollars I was able to bring home a photo and video that seem to prove I had done a report about a blizzard on live television! Not only was this a fun activity, but it allowed me to keep an open mind and consider broadcast journalism in addition to print.
I was also able to view the Newseum's gallery of Pulitzer Prize-Winning photographs. I learned that at this point in time, photojournalism is just too intense and emotional for me to consider as a career.
Sadly this program is only available to those who are nominated. If you do receive a letter from the conference and you love to write, I strongly recommend that you make all efforts to attend next summer. Not only did I have a wonderful week, but I earned college credit while learning about a subject that I love! What could be better than that?