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In case you haven’t heard, I toured the Wall Street Journal a few days ago.  You might have heard because I’ve been telling everyone who will listen: my parents, co-workers, New York strangers, the man who made my sandwich yesterday.  I told my dad this morning, “I think I peaked when I toured the Wall Street Journal.  How can my life get better than that?”

He told me life will be even better when I get a job at the Wall Street Journal, to which I agreed.  Working at the Wall Street Journal, I learned, would be a dream job.  The office is beautiful, the people are interesting and smart, and the job is fast-pased and engaging.

Wall of Pulitzer Prizes at the Wall Street Journal

A tour guide took a group of 15 of us from the conference around the floors of the Wall Street Journal.  We saw the floor where the reporters write and the separate editor’s floor.  The workplace mostly consists of desks where hurried looking workers face two or three computer screens.  Almost all of the screens, I noticed as I passed by, were open to financial spreadsheets or the Wall Street Journal front page.  TV screens faced all of the employees displaying the breaking news of the day.

What struck me most were the stacks of books everywhere.  There were bookshelves on every floor with books about finance, grammar, and travel.  It was obvious–being well-informed is necessary when you work for the Wall Street Journal.  I took a mental note as we continued on–read more, of everything.

Stack of books in the Wall Street Journal

We were lucky to talk for almost an hour with an editor of the Journal.  His name was Andrew Lavallee, and he is the Deputy Bureau Chief at the Wall Street Journal.  It was an honor to talk for him for so long.  A few tips he gave us that I noted:

  • Have a niche.  Lavallee’s niche had always been technology writing, so he entered the Wall Street Journal with a good understanding of technology, which became his beat.  He said find your niche, whatever you’re most interested in, and pursue it, whether it be environmental writing, educational policy writing, culture writing, etc.
  • Read the Journal if you want to work there.  He said one of his biggest mistakes was interviewing for the Journal and admitting that he didn’t really read it.  Lavallee was amazed he had still gotten the job.  He advised: wherever you interview, know their stuff, know the voice they have in their writing, and say you read it all the time.
  • Work abroad sometime in your life.  Lavallee was the Hong Kong correspondent for the Wall Street Journal for a few years, and he said the experience changed his life.  He said it was interesting and grew him as a person to live in another country with a very different culture.
  • You don’t need a graduate degree, but it helps.  Lavallee got his graduate degree in journalism from Columbia, so I asked him if he thought a graduate degree was necessary for the field of journalism.  He said it really wasn’t if you have good journalism connections already, but that graduate school had taught him a lot that he uses in his daily work life.
  • There are jobs in the field of journalism.  I asked him what he thought about the future of journalism; some people discourage younger people from going into the field because of the changing field.  But Lavallee pointed out that there will always be jobs in information consumption, and that information consumption seems to be growing.  He said there will be jobs 5 years from now that we can’t predict right now–like how the social media job at the Journal wasn’t a job 5 years previously, but is now one of the biggest jobs there.
  • Know your way around a camera and a spreadsheet.  Lavallee said to be a good journalist, you should be able to read spreadsheets, because you’re looking at a lot of data in general.  He recommended taking an economics or accounting class.  He also said it helps to have basic photography skills for when you run out to get a story, and need a picture to accompany it.
  • Read.  The Wall Street Journal, like I said, has stacks of books on every floor.  Lavallee recommended having a good news diet to be a good journalist, but also read books about economics and current events.
  • It can help to know other languages.  Lavallee said there were many stories he couldn’t do because he didn’t know Spanish or another language.  To be a foreign correspondent, you have to know the language of that country to interview there.

I learned so much at the Wall Street Journal, and it was amazing to see inside the iconic company.  Hopefully, I will be back someday!

-Hannah Sievert

Rachel Rippetoe|

I have to admit that I was a little jealous of The Beacon staffers in our group that got to tour The Wall Street Journal and Buzzfeed during our annual CMA New York conference this year. My tour was Democracy Now! which didn’t mean very much to me at the time. I don’t have a television or a car, so that type of broadcast news rarely reaches me. But I had heard of Amy Goodman because I like to acquaint myself with as many bad ass female journalists as I can and Amy Goodman takes the cake. I was already a fan, but when I got the opportunity to watch her in action and sit down and speak with her I was in awe. Needless to say, by the time my four hour (yes, I wrote that correctly: FOUR HOURS) tour was over, I wasn’t jealous anymore. My brain was buzzing with what I had learned and new goals that snowballed out of that knowledge. Learning more about Democracy Now! made me realize what kind of journalist I wanted to be and the kind of journalism that is still lacking in our world.

Our tour group got to speak with Amy Goodman (pictured on the far left with a beanie holding a mug). She is the news anchor for Democracy Now! But she’s also an incredible investigative journalist. She’s done stories all over the world

When we toured the one story office of this little newscast, the books were what surprised me the most. Many offices have bookshelves on the walls, maybe even a few stacked up on desks, but they’re largely for show. They make for a good background setting or aesthetically they complete the vibe of the room. But there were piles of books disorderly stacked on the news desks pushed in the corner of DN!’s brick wall office. There were think pieces on the war in the Middle East. Histories of Indonesia and Afghanistan, documentary films on the criminal justice system in the U.S or Kenya. Everything you can think of and it wasn’t for show; it was a part of the reporting. Democracy Now! taught me the importance of context and why we need more of it.

Part of the tour included watching the live hour newscast as it was being filmed and distributed to local news stations across the country. One segment discussed the ousting of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. To discuss it, Goodman brought in a woman from South Korea to discuss how political movements and protests have been a long time effort in South Korea and they truly made the difference in ousting Geun-hye. The woman who was leading our tour, and later Goodman herself, emphasized how important it was that they had brought in a woman who was actually a part of the movement in South Korea to talk on the show. Apparently, this was unusual because many mainstream stations just bring on a news pundit who really has never been up close and personal with the issue. I went back and watched CNN, NBC and Fox’s coverage and I discovered that she was right. No other station brought on someone from South Korea to talk about it.

This was a theme in talking to Amy. This woman has been arrested and deported several times. Her colleagues have been dragged face down on the sidewalk to jail. She’s had her press credentials ripped off by secret service. And I don’t want to diminish the hard work that anchors at stations like CNN or NBC do (because they are also wonderful, and I’d still possibly like them to hire me one day) but there’s a reason the trouble makers from Democracy Now! get roughed up more than other news reporters. They talk to people directly. There is no middle man, no pundit usually. They don’t just report what happened, they get the context. They get the story. If there’s a protest happening on the sidewalk in front the DNC Convention, they’re going to go down with a camera and a microphone and cover it. Goodman was front in center at Standing Rock before any other journalist was.

But it’s not just about being first. Jumping into the thick of it despite the scary consequences is important. Talking to those directly involved instead of some middleman source is important.

But for me, it was all about the books.

Clare, Olivia and I were sitting in an Irish restaurant and bar the night after I had my tour. I was telling them about Amy and how amazing she was and her coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Olivia said that for all the news she had read about the protests happening at Standing Rock, she really didn’t know anything about the issue. That’s when I saw in action what Amy and everyone else at Democracy Now! was saying. It’s so disappointing that you can read multiple articles about an event and only know that it happened. As journalists, I believe it’s our duty to go beyond what happened and into the why. We need background and context. We need those books on the history of war in Indonesia. We need that documentary on the prison system in Kenya. We can’t be lazy because our jobs are too important. We can’t forget the why.

(On a side note: speaking with Amy also made me realize that while the Trump administration may be more flagrant with its ridicule and dismissal of the free press, journalists have endured abuse under many administrations. DN! successfully sued the White House Secret Service at the very tail end of the Bush Administration (but it was during Obama’s nomination acceptance at the DNC Convention). )

The sight on Wall Street brought me to tears.

Although the freezing cold temperature alone was cry-worthy, I wasn’t tearing up from the cold.  I wasn’t tearing up because of the crowds that were jostling me from every direction.  Instead, I found myself crying in front of the Fearless Girl statue.

The statue was small and hard to see at first.  She was surrounded by a crowd of photo-snapping people, all trying to get a glimpse of the little girl.  People rushed forward out of the crowd to get a picture with her before being blocked by another photo-hungry tourist.  I just stood there in awe.

The Fearless Girl is a tribute to 2017’s International Women’s Day.  It stands just a few feet tall, and defiantly faces the famous Wall Street bull statue.  I read online that the city is still discussing the length of time the statue will stand here; I’ve heard from others she will only be here for a month.  However long she remains, I am thankful I was able to meet her during my time here in New York.

I wish I could be this little girl.  When I face deadlines, adversaries, sexism, and entering the workplace in two years, I hope to look like her.  While in New York and at the College Media Conference, I met and heard from many powerful women that talked about what it’s like to be a woman in the workplace, and how to be a girl who stands up for herself, hands on hips, defiant to a world that isn’t always on her side.

My favorite speaker I heard from while at the College Media Conference was Ann Shoket, the previous editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine.  I recorded her keynote speech because it was so full of inspiring advice, and useful tidbits on how to be a successful women in the news workplace.

She spoke about the trouble that all women face these days: finding a career that is also your passion, earning respect from bosses, finding a life-partner who honors ambition, and trying to balance children if work, if you want to have children.  Her advice was this: “Sit at the table, and don’t be afraid to speak.”  Ann said too often she saw women and young people in the workplace sitting off to the side, letting people make decisions for them.  She said while in the workplace, step forward, sit at the actual table during meetings, and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

My favorite thing Ann spoke about was how she had been chasing her 16-year-old dream her entire life, which was to be a writer in New York.  “It’s a feeling you spend your life chasing,” she said, and just like at the Fearless Girl statue, I found tears welling in my eyes in the audience. (I am a very emotional person, I’ll admit.)  Ann inspired me to admit to myself: I want to be someone who chases their 16-year-old dream.

I realized at this conference, in front of the Fearless Girl, and while being with my co-workers that I want to be a fearless women who chases her dream of being a writer and a world-changer.  Ann Shoket, who has had so much success in her life, reminded me that these things are possible with tenacity, bravery, and being strong in the face of occasional rejection.

It has been a privilege to be in New York surrounded by other fearless women.  Malika Andrews, our editor-in-chief, was able to speak at a panel about her upcoming New York Times internship.  Nancy Copic, our advisor, did a flawless job with keeping eight young adults out of trouble and organized in New York.  And my other co-workers inspire me every day with their humor, maturity, and commitment to the field of journalism.

Ann finished by saying that she keeps a stack of all the rejection letters she’s ever received and she looks at them occasionally.  One newspaper told her, “You don’t seem to have a future in writing.”  But she proved them wrong, and stood her ground with her dream.  Hearing from Ann and witnessing many powerful and inspiring women in the news profession has inspired me to return to Portland with a new confidence and a new resolve to be a fearless girl who takes life’s bull by the horns.

-Hannah Sievert

Waking up at four in the morning is never easy. But we did. The thought of going to New York City was our motivation. Yet with our luck, our driver ran out of gas on the way to the Portland Airport. Oops! At that point, I thought we weren’t going to make it. But we did.

We flew across the country to attend a media conference in New York City. While there are definitely countless places to explore and see in the city, we spent a couple days attending workshop sessions, touring media corporations and listening to wonderful keynote speakers. This experience was very enlightening. I learned a variety of tips, terms and tactics from this event. Here are 7 of them:

I learned …

  1. The important use of pronouns

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School of Journalism in Columbia University

In our current society, the use of pronouns are becoming more and more prominent. It is essential to be cognizant of the words we use, because we have no idea how much it can impact people. Gender pronouns are specifically important to keep in mind. My workshop presenter said “Ask your source what terms are comfortable for them, because it’s better to ask questions than making mistakes.”

  1. That it is essential to respect diverse individuals

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Diverse individuals in the Daily Show with Trevor Noah

There are certain terms that are can come off as exclusive to some individuals. For example, saying “you guys” versus “you all” or even the term “wheelchair bound” can make a huge difference in terms of diverse groups.  It is important be cognizant of these terms, especially when writing headlines.

  1. How to write a compelling story

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Starry Night at the Museum of Modern Arts

The main thing we have to remember is the acronym COMPELLING:

Competent Online presence Memorable People-centric Empathic Lasting Impact Listener Intuitive Narrative Genuine

Ask me what they mean!

PS* I think The Starry Night is a pretty compelling art. Let your story be like that.

  1. What is a 6-word story

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Amazing sculptures in MoMA

Play with words and create a story. I had no idea you can write a story in 6 words. Of course, there wouldn’t be that many details but it’s a good exercise.

Example:

“We’re lying in bed. She’s lying.”

  1. from Mara Schiavocampo, to think about “Who do you know? Who knows you?”

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ABC’s Good Morning America Mara Schiavocampo and I

Building relationships inside and outside your business is extremely important. Schiavocampo told us that it is important to know and meet as many people as you can. Be yourself. Be persistent. Be consistent. Ask people out for coffee and constantly keep your network going.

  1. To know our “Brand”

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The Beacon ladies at Karaoke

It’s important to know your brand, because you’re going to be/do best at things you are passionate with. I saw many of the attendees, including myself, pondering about their “brands” and what defines their personality, behavior and attitude.

  1. To boost my confidence

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Photo by Annika Gordon

This one seems pretty straightforward, but difficult to do. How do I gain the confidence to walk up to people without feeling like my heart is about to come out of my body? Well, I no longer feel that. After Mara Schiavocampo’s speech, I had questions so I immediately walked up to her and was the first person there. I even got a hug and photo with her! She is amazing.

It would be nice to talk about tips on surviving this city. But here are three main things I learned that I want you to know: Go with the flow of people walking, wear comfortable shoes and learn how to navigate yourself around! You will survive. Overall, this was an amazing experience! I am glad to not only call my fellow staffers – friends, but also family.

Rachel Ramirez

 

I am stuck in a hotel in Newark, New Jersey and outside my window all I can see is a 180-degree view of the airport terminals, the aftermath of a blizzard named Stella, and right there in the near distance I can see New York City’s skyline. It is near enough to see, but it’s also a $100 taxi ride away which means I need to get comfy here in Newark and start writing a blog post.

So, I guess it’s time to do a little reminiscing about my experience with the College Media Association in New York City.

I walked into a session with Todd Maisel, a New York Daily News photographer, 15 minutes early. He made his way over to talk to me because I was the first person there. In those 15 minutes, in the heaviest New Yorker accent I’d ever heard, he convinced me to make myself a Twitter account. He claimed it was a photojournalist’s most valuable tool to discovering and covering breaking news and, I (not being a Twitter fan) have to grudgingly admit, he gave me enough reasons to agree with him.

Todd Maisel went on to open the discussion up to everyone and showed us his photographs of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and he shared his stories with us of that day. He made absolutely clear to us that when you’re in the middle of a disaster and people are dying or hurting and there’s a way for you to prevent it, then documenting the misery cannot be your priority.

Before leaving that session, I made sure to get his email because I am beyond excited to learn even more from him.

But his was not the only session I went to. In others, I learned of ways to continue my photojournalism overseas while studying abroad and that I need to have a war story to tell potential employers and wandering the city helped me learn how to do more street photography.

Times Square at Night the first night of the trip.

A street in New York City featuring a yellow taxi cab.

On an hour-long tour of Bloomberg News I learned that business journalism can be exciting and fun too, that Beyoncé used to live in the same building as the publication, and that our tour guide had met Robin Williams and Angelina Jolie. Aside from the excitement of Beyoncé, Robin Williams, and Angelina Jolie, I gained a much deeper appreciation of the newsroom and its inner workings after touring this spectacular corporation.

First picture I took in the Bloomberg News building where hundreds of employees were running around getting lunch.

My tour group was able to peek in on the inner workings of Bloomberg Radio and TV.

In this one, way way WAY in the back on the left side of the photo you can see the reporters working away on their computers.

With The Beacon, I’m a photographer before I’m a writer. Or, at least, I thought I was. But this conference taught me that in journalism, there’s no difference because in the end, no matter what your medium, you are a reporter. You show people, to the best of your abilities, the truth.

Annika Gordon

The first session of the day focused on a topic nearly all college newspapers have covered —sexual assault. The presenter gave guidelines for reporting on such a topic, illustrated the importance of covering sexual assault on college campuses, and highlighted flaws in how some colleges handle sexual assault. The presenter mentioned several times that before he interviews a victim of sexual assault, he encourages the person to talk with counselors and parents to ensure he or she truly wants to make his or her story known and that in 10 or 15 years, the person won’t regret having told the story.

One of the main takeaways from this session related to a previous session that spoke of journalists serving their campuses and protecting them. The presenter in today’s panel focused on one university in Ohio that didn’t issue crime reports even though five sexual assaults had occurred on campus. After investigating the matter and running a series on it that exposed the university’s reluctance to publish the reports, the university began publishing them three days after the newspaper’s series finished. Because of the newspaper’s reporting, the students at that university became more aware of dangers on their campus.

The most interesting point was the presenter’s observation that  university judicial review boards that make rulings on crimes, such as rape, on campus, are ill-prepared to make such decisions and are unfair to both the accused and the accuser. He also emphasized his view that there should not be a special set of rules for crimes on college campuses and that as a result, crimes should be reported to the city, not campus, police in order to ensure the most fairness for all parties involved. The ideas discussed during the session were thought-provoking, as they were relevant to many campuses across the nation.

“F.B.I. Strategies for Interviewing,” the next session, was fascinating because it raised points that seem so simple but apparently help greatly in getting a source to provide more information. The presenter noted that all of the F.B.I.’s interview strategies are psychological and fairly basic. Two of the most interesting techniques included mirroring a source’s body posture and joining. By mirroring someone’s body posture, he or she is 30% more likely to provide more information and have a longer conversation. “Joining” means being empathetic to the source and showing that “I see it from your perspective for two seconds,” as the presenter said, without crossing ethical lines and telling the source your opinion on a matter.

Ann Shoket and Joanne Lipman

Ann Shoket, editor of Seventeen for seven years, and Joanne Lipman, chief content officer of Gannett, delivered the keynote speech today, which aimed to encourage millennials even as some tell them they’re not capable or qualified to achieve certain successes or hold certain positions. Key ideas of the discussion were to have confidence, be curious, and take risks. They emphasized the importance of speaking up and contributing ideas in meetings, even if you’re unsure of yourself because more often than not, they are valuable ideas. Lipman then recounted the story of a job interview that she was convinced had gone poorly. She than asked many (what she perceived to be silly) questions after because she knew she wasn’t going to work there, so she didn’t care if she appeared foolish. A few weeks later, she got the job because the employer had been impressed by how many questions she’d asked and took them as a sign of her curiosity, a trait employers value. Shoket then touched on the value of taking risks and saying “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself even if you lack confidence.

The Wall Street Journal’s award-winning article on the 9/11 attacks on a wall of the office.

The last stop of the day was the Wall Street Journal, where unfortunately, we were not allowed to take many photos due to security reasons. It was fascinating to glimpse how a big, national publication works to produce its newspaper every day. Thinking of how much work Beacon staffers and editors invest in reporting, writing, and editing, it’s difficult to fathom that process on a bigger scale and on a faster timeline.

The Journal is trying to increase its digital presence and to attract more subscribers through social media, such as Snapchat. The publication puts short articles on Snapchat to compel people who wouldn’t normally read the Wall Street Journal to take a look and to change the Journal’s image as strictly a source of business and political news. However, though they are investing in increasing digital subscription, the guide, Carrie Melago, an editor at the Journal, mentioned several times that the paper highly values its print subscribers because they have often been reading the Journal for decades and need to produce a quality print edition for them.

The 39 Pulitzer Prizes the Journal has won.

My favorite moment of the tour was a simple one —passing through one of the lower floors, we saw (what I think were) tentative layouts on the wall for the “Weekend Edition” section of the paper. They stood out to me because the pages on the wall will be on my couch or countertop all the way in Roseburg, Oregon when they are published. The work the Journal does reaches people all over the world and speaks to the power and importance of journalism, from the Wall Street Journal to the Beacon.

Thank you, my Beacon friends, for being such good travel companions and fun people to attend the conference and explore NYC with! And thank you to Nancy for encouraging me to apply to go because I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Much love for all of you!

-Dora Totoian

 

I’d been looking forward to this conference since I had found out I was going, but my enthusiasm increased as attempts to discredit the media had grown in the past few months. Journalists play a crucial role in ensuring that people know the happenings of the world around them and that that information is correct —it’s also imperative journalists have the freedom to carry out their duties fully. One of the first sessions I attended emphasized the task of journalists in today’s times and highlighted the importance of the First Amendment, a theme common to other sessions as well.

Dora excited to go to the conference!

The presenter of the session “Why Journalists are Superheroes” drew comparisons between superheroes, who protect their communities by saving them from evil, and journalists, who serve and defend their communities in similar ways. Even on a college campus, student journalists identify what’s important to the student body and then determine how to tell that story. A key component that enables them to accomplish such work is the First Amendment declaring that Congress cannot establish laws limiting the freedom of the press. The presentation emphasized that the Founders must have valued this freedom highly to place it in the very first amendment to the Constitution. Though the presentation adopted a dire tone toward the end as it mentioned assaults on the credibility of the press, it ended on an optimistic tone as the presenter expressed her belief that perhaps journalism will be revitalized in this era.

Mara Schiavocampo

Next came the keynote session for that day, which helped to shift my perspective on a word that  had previously held a negative connotation for me: networking. Mara Schiavocampo of ABC News delivered a presentation entitled “It’s a Relationship Business” that centered on the importance of developing your professional image and skills while also forming connections to people who will help you in finding opportunities. It’s embarrassing to say this, and I’m aware that it may be offensive to some people, but previously, I had considered “networking” to be a euphemism for “self-promotion.” I don’t think I aspire to be a professional journalist, but networking seems to be an integral component of acquiring a job in any field, and I was not keen on the idea of bragging about myself to people who I would want to hire me for an internship or job. However, Mara’s speech framed that previously heinous word in a different light —people have to know you to hire you for something. Thinking about networking this way clearly highlights its value and makes it more feasible.

Another idea that stood out to me in her presentation was that you have to find the confluence of what you enjoy and your career goals in order to have a fulfilling career. This equation was repeated in the following day’s keynote as well as in a discussion with a Wall Street Journal editor. Hearing so many people reiterate that you have to have a job you love makes me feel better about being a Spanish and political science major rather than the biology major that I thought I’d be when I was applying to UP.

Journalism can be stressful for a variety of reasons, so I was eager for a presentation entitled “Practicing Journalism with Aloha” to provide a dose of positivity and relaxation. However, the session that I thought would be about infusing the newsroom with the spirit of aloha took a dark turn —but still proved to be extraordinarily informative and engaging. Most of the presentation did not focus on the Islands but on the small town of Laramie, Wyoming and the grisly crimes the presenter had covered in the state, including the murder of Matthew Shepard. She continued to write similar stories when she moved to the Big Island, and from her experience reporting on sensitive topics, developed a list of principles, grounded in Hawaiian culture, she uses to guide her reporting.

The presentation made me think of the coverage of the Umpqua Community College shooting in my hometown and the various approaches different media outlets took to contacting the families of the UCC Nine and their willingness to talk to the media. She spoke of the importance of forming an authentic connection with the family in such a story so that the family would trust her to tell the story of their loved one and of the value of showing compassion to the family in the process instead of solely focusing on publishing the story. The presentation closed on the significance of not succumbing to the pressure to sensationalize crime stories and to instead focus on conveying the truth while also showing care and compassion to the family in the process, a resonant message as I thought of the experiences of the families in Roseburg and how their stories were told.

The final session of the day was one in which Malika, our editor-in-chief, participated and spoke about achieving success in the industry at a young age. While I don’t plan to go into journalism, this panel made me appreciate the skills I gain and cultivate working at The Beacon and that they are transferable to and valuable in any profession. Any job requires you to think critically, and every step of telling a story requires critical thinking, from coming up with the questions, listening closely during interviews, and thinking about how to best tell the story. The Beacon also enables us to overcome shyness and talk to students and professors with confidence, teaches us to work on a deadline, and shows us how to cooperate with others on a project. Hearing Malika speak about her drive to achieve success in journalism provided me with renewed ambition to focus on my goals and pursue excellence, regardless of which field I enter.

– Dora Totoian