This summer, I had a life changing opportunity to become a better journalist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. During the week long workshop in Columbia, I was able to meet 39 other high schoolers from all over the country and even one from Costa Rica.
Many know the University of Missouri to be one of the top journalism schools in the country so this was a huge chance for me. Starting around the end of last school year, I was searching around for a summer workshop that would allow me to better my journalism skills and I found the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop. I went through a lengthy application process including finding adults to write recommendation letters, write an essay, getting my transcript, including work samples, and give reasoning as to why I deserved to be in the workshop. I waited and waited for the submission deadline to see what the result was and one afternoon I got an email saying I had been chosen for the workshop.
I waited a couple months and it was time. The nervousness didn’t set in until I got to Columbia. I wasn’t ready to meet all these new people and have them think of me as the farmer since I was from Iowa. Upon arriving, my mom and I went to Jimmy John’s for lunch and suddenly I became not hungry anymore and I looked up at my mom and tears filled my eyes. This was a giant step outside of my comfort zone.
After I got myself together and got done with lunch, it was time for check in and moving into what I would call home for that week. I got all settled in and it became real. I was going to be 4 hours away from home with a bunch of complete strangers for a week. Sounds like college to me… Little did I know how much work living the college life would be and only for a week.
The first night we had an opening session to introduce us to the campus and to learn more about the University as a whole and the Journalism school as a whole. I kept kind of to myself that first night. After the first day, my days were filled with lots of walking from our dorms to the journalism buildings, sessions with different professors in different areas of the field and then writing a story with a group. My group consisted of Molly from Washington, Missouri, Eli from Chicago, Illinois, Lizzy from Louisville, Kentucky and our editor Brent from St. Louis Public Radio. We were challenged to produce a media and story package based on the theme of innovation and technology in a couple of days.
My team chose to do photos and an article which you can read here. This was challenging with 3 other people’s ideas and the short period of time we had. Setting up interviews with random people in Columbia and turning around in a day with an interview ready to be listened too and written out. Taking photos and hoping they were good enough because we didn’t have a lot of time to find new opportunities for photos.
Over the course of the workshop, I became close to some of the girls on my dorm floor. We ordered cookies and food late at night and were up until 2am trying to edit our stories but we were just so exhausted we couldn’t stop laughing.
This workshop was go, go, go all day and most nights but it was the best experience I could’ve asked for. I made connections with other high school students from all over as well as making connections at the University of Missouri and professionals in different areas of the field of journalism. To this day, I still am in contact with some of the friends I made at MUJW.
Now I know, journalism is what I want to do with the rest of my life and I want to thank everyone who has supported my goals and dreams and to all the wonderful people I met. This goes out to you all.
Cover photo by Amber Garret Photography