Arizona High School student inspire local journalist
As a journalist, I am always looking for ways to give back to the community, whether it be through my reporting or, in this case, through mentoring high school students in the Donald W. Carson Journalism Diversity Workshop for Arizona High School Students.
The program ran from Sunday, June 3, through Saturday, June 9, and it was packed with guest speakers, late nights, early mornings, countless meetings, reporting time, campus outings, plenty of stress, interviews and so much more.
There were 11 high school students at the University of Arizona workshop, coming from schools like Tucson High Magnet School, Winslow High School, Tohono O’odham High School and a handful of others, some with journalism programs and some without.
I was one of the five college student mentors, along with Simon Asher, Kirshana Guy, Jane Bendickson and Zeina Peterson, led by director of the workshop Daniel Andrés Domínguez and writing coach and content editor Susan Knight, who helped the students produce an eight-page newspaper called The Chronicle over the course of the week.
I myself took part in this week-long workshop when I was in high school, and it is the reason I decided to pursue the craft, so when I was asked to be a mentor, I was all in. After the parents left Sunday afternoon, I met the students at our first budget meeting and I saw their passion.
The students came to the camp with clear ideas of what they wanted to report on, who they wanted to talk to and how they wanted to end the week. It was amazing to see such passion from students ranging from ages 15 through 17.
As the week progressed the students were asked to take photos, write peer profiles, write a story on the guest speakers, produce a multi-media piece — all while still working on their main stories. At times we started the day at 8:20 a.m. and ended it at midnight or later.
As a college student I have learned to balance my time and priorities. That week, on top of my mentor duties, I still worked on the Daily Wildcat, I was taking an online class, my mother was leaving for Paris for the summer and I had to stay in Gila Dorm as a dorm guard for the students — my plate was full.
All my other duties aside, I found it imperative that I help these students as much as I could.
They worked hard all week, lining up interviews, taking up editorial positions, writing stories, taking initiative and showing lots of passion. At the end of the week the mentors were just there to help with commas — the students took care of everything else.
I worked with all the students, helping formulate questions, editing stories, walking students across campus in 100-degree weather for an interview, organizing dinner and working on the print edition the last two days.
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The week ended strong with an awards ceremony and I couldn’t be prouder of how far each of the students grew. I have seen more passion in these students than I usually see in my daily life.
On top of their other assignments and lectures, each student covered stories in a week that a professional would have taken more than a week to cover.
Sadie Azersky, a senior at Canyon del Oro High School, wrote a story about health alternatives that could solve the opioid crisis among young adults. She talked to health care professionals and others, and as I accompanied on her first interview, I could see the drive behind the questions she asked.
Dara Garcia, a 16-year old junior from Tohono O’odham High School, wrote a story on school shooting safety awareness in TUSD schools. She also worked on two other stories, one on a peer and one on a lecturer, and her ability to come up with questions for her sources was amazing.
In the middle of the workshop, the students invited their parents to a lasagna dinner, provided by Susan Knight, and one of the parents came to the mentors and Susan and said “[My student] has grown so much in these last few days that I hardly recognize her.”
That is one of the reasons I am in this career: to inspire and share my skills with others. Being a part of this workshop and having the ability to work with young people and pass on the skills I have learned has made me appreciate my mentors, those who came before me and those who will come after.
We are told to take opportunities and give things our best shot. These students gave this workshop week theirs and it really showed. They made me proud to have been a part of this week-long journalism workshop.
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