- February 3, 2016
WEST ORANGE A knack for writing has landed two West Orange High students spots as youth correspondents for a prestigious journalism conference this summer.
Kathryn Andrews and Connor Suglia, both juniors, were chosen as two of only 250 students nationwide who will attend the 2016 Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University in Washington, D.C. The program, which will be held for two weeks in July, brings high school sophomores and juniors nationwide — who are nominated by educators based on their academic performance and a demonstrated interest in journalism and media — together to receive hands-on experience in the field.
Communications and media have been a staple in 17-year-old Kathryn’s life for as long as she can remember. In fact, she recounted going to New York City and meeting “TODAY Show” hosts Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie for her 13th birthday.
Even now, her passion for the communications industry continues to pay off. Her journalism teacher, Kimberly Poor, nominated her for the program, to which Kathryn then submitted a piece of writing — an editorial — for review.
Her favorite stories to work on, however, are features, but she hopes to expand her horizons by writing about global and local events or getting involved with any area of sports coverage.
Although she’s always loved writing, she discovered her love for the camera when she took a TV production class in seventh grade. She planned to continue with TV production as a freshman in high school, but because West Orange High restricted the class to sophomores and older, she took journalism instead.
“I took TV my sophomore and junior years and loved the whole experience, and that’s what I want to major in,” Kathryn said.
She will graduate early — in December rather than in spring 2017. She plans to move to Atlanta in January, where she hopes to either start school at the University of Georgia in the spring or work on getting an internship.
“A lot of people I look up to as anchors went to college there,” Kathryn said. “(Additionally) I look up to Erin Andrews and all of the ‘TODAY Show’ cast.”
As for her personal goals at the conference, she said she hopes to learn how to write better and learn more about being on screen and behind the scenes, as well as getting tips on better interacting and communicating with people.
“It’ll be fun to see big names out there talking to us about how they got started or how they got into being in journalism or communications,” she said. “I want to get my name out there.”
A passion for writing and media is what led Connor to take a TV production class in middle school, where he would anchor and report. From that moment, he was hooked on the camera.
“At high school level I anchored as well and I did more behind-the-scenes things, such as directing and editing,” he said. “I like being a talent on there and being a reporter; I like the speaking positions.”
Connor’s TV production teacher, Kiah Arnold, was the one who recommended him for the program. When he researched it on his own, he knew immediately it was something he wanted to do.
“It’ll be humbling meeting such prominent members of society really, but also being able to step out of my comfort zone a bit and experience a new thing and enjoy it.” — Connor Suglia
Although Connor — who plays football for West Orange and volunteers at A Cause for Paws animal rescue — always has wanted to be a veterinarian, he said journalism presents many new opportunities and his current experience is spurring his interest in broadcast journalism. Watching the “TODAY Show’s” Al Roker and Matt Lauer every morning with his mom also inspires him to become better at broadcast journalism.
“I hope to learn to be a better speaker (at the conference); I think that’s a really important thing,” he said. “I think learning more proper etiquette for broadcast journalism, taking the experience from the higher people and being able to adapt to that and learn it myself (will help me) become better at it.”
While at the conference, Connor will have the opportunity to meet congressional members, journalists and anchors, as well as tour the Smithsonian Institution. He said he is most looking forward to meeting new people at the conference.
“It’ll be humbling meeting such prominent members of society really, but also being able to step out of my comfort zone a bit and experience a new thing and enjoy it,” he said.
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected]