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Wilton C. Jackson, II Multimedia Journalist (MMJ)

NABJ Students: SJI Alums discuss their experience

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The Sports Journalism Institute (SJI) is a nine week training and internship program for college students interested in sports journalism careers. The Institute is designed to attract talented students to journalism through opportunities in sports reporting and editing and enhance racial and gender diversity in sports departments nationwide.

The SJI works with the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).

To apply for the 2017 Sports Journalism Institute, go to http://bit.ly/2clzd1p.

Several SJI alums discussed their experience in the program and how it has helped them in the media industry.

Nick Creegan, a 2012 SJI alum, recently accepted a position with FOX Sports 1, where he will work as a senior associate producer of original shows and content as well as do Facebook Live content.

Creegan said SJI truly helped him get his foot in the door of the media industry.

“SJI definitely prepared me for success in the business,” Creegan said. “I already knew what to expect out of any newsroom before I even got there.”

Before moving to FOX, Creegan worked as an on-air host for AOL.com.

Jaylon Thompson, a 2015 SJI alum, said the program helped him to improve his ability to tell stories.

“SJI taught me how to tell stories through real voices,” Thompson said. “This has helped me attract readers in ways I did not know imaginable.”

Currently, Thompson is a senior digital and broadcast journalism student at the University of Georgia.

Malika Andrews, a 2016 student of the SJI, said the program elevated her game and put her in a place to be noticed.

“Through SJI and my 10-week internship, I gained the writing skills and mentorship that has put me in a place where, when I graduate, I’ll be ready for a job in such a competitive field,” Andrews said.

Andrews is a senior communication studies student at the University of Portland.

For more information about the program and the alumni of the program, visit http://bit.ly/2fj9nXP.

 

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NABJ Students: Advice in applying for the 2017 New York Times Student Journalism Institute

NABJ Student Representative Wilton Jackson spoke with The New York Times Student Journalism Institute (NYTSJI) Director Richard Jones to gain additional advice and insight for students applying the 2017 NYT Student Journalism Institute. The Institute is open to students who are apart of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).

 Jackson: What makes students stand out the most when applying for the NYTSJI?

 Jones: Previous internship experience helps students stand out. Students who have a track record of being edited, meeting deadlines and revising stories is valuable preparation. Student media experience is very important when applying for the Institute. Also, leadership in student media speaks to the students’ craft and says a lot about their diligence and respect for the craft. Students who are digitally fluent (video, html, social media, apps, etc.) is really a plus as well.

Another thing for students to consider is not so much what the organization (NYTSJI) can do for you but what they can bring to the organization. It is important to know what skills and abilities from students can bring to the program.

Jackson: What do you look for in cover letters and resumes when students apply for the Institute?

Jones:  First, I look to see if all information is expressed clearly and concisely. Secondly, in reference to those students looking to be a reporter for the Institute, I look to see how they describe what they did as a reporter. In doing so, students could maybe discuss a story they wrote that won an award or changed a policy in a community. Small things set you apart from the competition. In terms of the style of the cover letter, I leave it up to the student. Some students write more standard cover letters while other students might have written excellent narrative-style cover letters. I always tell students to do what they feel is most comfortable for them. Thus, students should not feel insecure about doing a standard cover letter as oppose to a narrative cover letter or vice versa.

In regard to resumes, they should be one page. Students should make sure to include technical skills they are familiar with on their resumes. I also would like to see more students indicate their affiliation with NABJ and NAHJ higher up on the resume. Being a part of professional organizations and being involved in them is very important.

Students should also tailor their resume to the opportunity they are applying for. If you are applying for the reporter position, tailor your resume to where it highlights and shows your reporting skills. If you applying for a designer, copy editor, video journalist, still photographer or interactive journalist’s positions, students should make sure to tailor their resumes accordingly.

Jackson: Can students apply to both, the NY Times Student Journalism Institute and NY Times Summer Internship Program?

Jones: Students can apply for both opportunities. They can also apply for as many positions as possible. Students, however, should make sure to customize their cover letter and resume to the opportunity they are applying for.

Jackson: What are some common mistakes you see students make when applying for internships that you hate to see?

Jones: Some of the most common mistakes I see are typos, errors, addressing a cover letter to someone who does not work with the company. It is good for students to know the company they want to intern or work for. Students should make sure to personalize their cover letter.

Students should also apply for opportunities that best fit their abilities. Students should not apply for an opportunity where they do not have any experience with.

Jackson: Does having other work experience or media experience in other platforms help when applying for journalism opportunities such as the NYTSJI?

Jones: If students have additional experience in other platforms such as video, podcasts or graphics, that helps as well. Students having other work experience or other professional skills can help students, especially if they are looking to do a specific reporting or specific media job in the industry. These skills can help students build on their journalism aspirations.

For more information about the 2017 New York Times Student Journalism Institute, go to http://www.nytco.com/careers/student-journalism-institute/. The deadline to apply for the Institute is Nov. 1, 2016.

Wilton Jackson is the current NABJ student representative. Currently, Jackson is earning his Master of Mass Communication (MMC) at Louisiana State University and will graduate in May 2017. To contact him, his email address is wiltonjackson93@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @WiltonReports.

NABJ Students: Advice for applying for the Dow Jones News Fund Internship Program

The Dow Jones News Fund (DJNF) provides paid summer internships in data journalism, digital media, business reporting and interactive news editing for juniors, seniors and graduate students.

DJNF offers interns with an intensive week-long training taught by leading journalism professionals. The deadline is Nov. 1.

Tierra Smith, NABJ student council member, spoke with Linda Shockley, the managing director of the Dow Jones News Fund, to provide additional advice for NABJ students who are interested in applying for the internship program.

When applying for the internship program, students are required to take an editing test and write an essay, which serves as a major component of the application process.

Shockley said students should self-edit, rewrite, avoid procrastination and invest in writing a well-written and insightful piece.

“All of these things speak to how you are as a journalist,” Shockley said.

While writing an engaging essay can be challenging, Shockley also said students should be confident in their abilities and should not fear that they are not good enough.

“You have to believe it and make it so,” Shockley said. “You start with the positive affirmation then you take the necessary steps.”

Part of students being confident in themselves is knowing when to ask for help and being proactive in finding ways to improve their skillset.

Shockley said it is important for students to be realist of their skills and improve in the areas where they need work on.

“There is no excuse,” Shockley said. “There are many online journalism resources for students to enhance their skills. All students have to do is set aside time everyday to get better.”

The internship program also requires students to take a test or “qualifying exam.” Depending on the internship, students are required to edit passages, write headlines and answer current event questions.  At some universities, professors administer the test annually. At others, students must coordinate with a professor to administer the test.

Shockley, who has worked with the DJNF for more than 28 years, said that students must have the foundational ability to write and think critically. She said the only way students will improve with their writing skills is to practice.

“You must continue to work at it,” Shockley said.

For additional advice, tips and information about the DJNF, check out the YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuEo1099HimrNqBdfK3ntxA.

To apply for the internship program, go to http://bit.ly/1r6svKS. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.

Tierra Smith serves on the NABJ Student Council as the Region III student representative. Smith is earning her Master of Mass Communication (MMC) at Louisiana State University and will graduate in May 2017. Smith is also an alumnae of the Dow Jones News Fund Internship Program. To contact her, email her at tierrasmith_13@ymail.com and follow her on Twitter @ByTierraSmith. 

#Focused: An untold story..The Journey Continues

#Focused #Determined #Ambitious #Motivated #Persistent

1:30 AM | Aug. 22, 2016 | Baton Rouge, La.

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Roughly one year ago, behind the warm smile and honor cords, a young man, who had recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern Mississippi and completed an internship with ESPN, packed up his things from his parents house to relocate to his new home in Baton Rouge, La., for the next two years.

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As I brushed my teeth early on the morning before I flew out to Bristol, Conn., for my internship at ESPN, my mother gave me this cross and said, “You are starting a new phase of your life and you may need this now more than ever.”

Nervous, scared  and everything else in between, the young man made the journey down Interstate 55 to Interstate 12 on rainy day to move into his apartment. That young man is myself, a man who looked at life totally different from the way he viewed it a year ago.

Here’s what happened.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It seemed like the ride to Baton Rouge took forever.

Honestly, I was ready to get the trip over with because I had a bunch of thoughts jumping around in my head and a lot of mixed feelings locked up inside.

Living in an apartment by myself was a new experience for me. At USM, I worked as a resident assistant. Thus, I was accustomed to being around the students and the staff members in my residence hall.

From the residence hall to my own apartment, the adjustment and transformation process was just beginning to unfold.

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After my first day of classes at LSU, I felt overwhelmed.

It was not because the work was hard, the classes were difficult to find or that I could not do the work, it was simply an adjustment from undergrad to graduate school. There were some growing pains in multiple areas of my life. There were things that I had to realize on my own to allow me to grow as a man and as a person.

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Slowly but surely, I began to look at things differently. I consider myself a very humble person. Coming to graduate school right after undergrad humbled me even more and required me to change my mindset on every aspect of my life.

At the end of the first semester, I lost some close friends, spent a lot of time by myself, spent a lot of time thinking about my life in general and became more understanding to the words “patience” and “timing”.

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You see, some things in life you will not learn in a book, in a classroom or from a mentor. Who knows, you might learn the most essential things in life while “raking the leaves in the backyard” with your father as a child when, honestly, you really did not want to rake the leaves or be outside doing it during the cold, winter months.

However, as the old folks would say, we will save that story for another day in the near future. #StayTuned

 For there are some lessons that you will learn on your own by trial an error and by simply finding your way through the journey and situation. My dad always told me a statement that I never really thought about until one day it really began to make perfect sense.

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“Son, your personal experiences are the best teacher for your growth as a man,” said my father.

He could not have been more correct. Thanks for the advice!

Returning in the spring semester and eager to start 2016, the adjustment process became a lot easier. There were still some very challenging times and moments where I questioned myself, “what am I doing with my life and why do things seem as if they are so difficult right now?”

As time went on, things began to manifest in my favor.

More importantly, however, time was moving quickly.

I feel like I blinked my eyes once during the semester and it was time to go on spring break. Shortly after spring break, school was out and it was time to start my internship.

Instead of “looking for revenge like Drake” during summer 2016, I completed my internship as a 2016 Scripps Howard Foundation Intern in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

While completing my internship, I wrote a variety of stories, learned a lot about storytelling, the media industry and techniques on how to improve my craft. All while doing these things, I learned a lot about myself and life in general.

From sitting down and listening to people tell their personal testaments and stories in interviews to traveling to unknown places, these experiences gave me a unique perspective on life, especially during a time where things in other areas of my life were chaotic.

Despite the challenges and headaches, I persevered and made it through.

With my summer internship and one year of graduate school behind me, I am literally hours away from starting my second year of graduate school.

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Related posts: Embracing the Future: Dealing with the ‘Fear of the Unknown’

What are my thoughts?

#Focused #Determined #Ambitious #Motivated #Persistent

Am I nervous? Yes. This time, however, it is a different kind of nervous.

Today marks the beginning of the end to another journey of my life: a Master’s degree.

I know this year will be filled with a lot of difficult times but also successes and moments of happiness.

I know that my faith and patience will be tested like never before.

In only one year, I have experienced some bizarre, crazy, weird and difficult moments. On the other hand, I have also witnessed some of the best moments of my life.

There is a balance in some areas of my life. (At least it appears to be)

More importantly, the countdown has begun. I have 262 days, 19 hours and less than 10 minutes until I reach the finish line.

From a sports aspect, in honor of the 2016 Olympics just ending, I have 262 days, 19 hours and less than 10 minutes to jump over every hurdle, to swim every lap, to run to the finish line and to shoot all the critical shots on the court down the stretch to earn my gold medal.

Achieving this task will not be easy. For there will be many trials and tribulations.

However, I will not allow them to deter me from my path.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

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This bible verse and Og Mandino’s line in his poem The Scroll Marked III “I will persist until I succeed” resonate with me everyday.

They remind me of the idea of how I cannot quit no matter what. They serve as reminder for me to continue to overcome high-pressure situations and rise to the occasion. Even on my off days, in the words of Fred Harris, the late principal and head basketball coach of Jim Hill High School, everyday is a workday.

Many people will start a new journey today while some will take the next steps to finish a journey they have already started.

My advice to everybody is also the advice that I will give to myself for the next nine months.

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Pray. Be thankful. Do not give up. Remain humble. There is a lesson in every season. Do your best and do not worry about the rest.

#Focused #Determined #Ambitious #Motivated #Persistent

 

 

 

Shoulders to God: Fulfilling my God-given purpose

If you can find one person who has not experienced hard times and difficult situations, he or she is truly one in a million. Everyone faces hardships that create opportunities for growth and maturity.

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Life comes at you fast, and for Meco Shoulders, the reality of him living what he thought was an “ideal life” hit rock bottom when he experienced an early glimpse of freedom in the real world.

However, just as his life choices come with real consequences, Shoulders is a living witness to the idea that starting over in life is possible.

“I truly value God and my family,” said Shoulders. “There are people that have given up on life and lost their minds dealing with things similar to mine. I thank God for choosing me and aiding me through my life journey.”

Shoulders, 25, grew up in Jackson, Miss., with his brother, JaQavious, and his sister, JaVonn.

As the oldest of three children in a single parent home with his mother, Debra Davis, Shoulders said his mother served as a backbone for him and his siblings. More importantly, Shoulders’ mother kept him out of trouble and would be one of the few who never gave up on him.

“She was the real MVP. Growing up in Jackson, it was easy to get caught up in the wrong thing because my peers would be doing it and I wanted to fit in,” Shoulders said. “I gravitated to certain things due to my circumstances and misunderstandings. However, my mother guided me and never gave up on me when I lost my way.”

Getting in trouble was not an unfamiliar feeling for Shoulders. At Peeples Middle School, Shoulders spent a good amount of his time in the principal’s office, not because he was not smart, but because he was disrespectful to his teachers.

“My behavior was absolutely unacceptable. I was a smart kid but I talked to my teachers with no respect. I fought like a maniac every year in school,” Shoulders said. “I wanted to be accepted by my peers but that was not the way to go.”

Looking for a way to be respected by his peers but staying out of trouble in the process, Shoulders became a member in the band program at Peeples, where he played the snare drum.

Little did Shoulders know, playing in the band would become a lifelong passion for him through all of his anger, problems and setbacks.

However, at Jim Hill High School, it took more than playing in the band to keep Shoulders on the right path.

Instead of fighting to fit in with his peers, Shoulders became caught up in the lifestyle of being popular, chasing women and playing in the band and on the baseball team.

“I was one of the top students my freshman year, but I I fell off after that. My focus became blurry. Women and drums were the only things on my mind,” Shoulders said. “I was one of the best snare drummers in the city and state, a member of Jackson Alumni’s Kappa Leadership and Development League and I played on the baseball team. My education was a secondary thing for me.”

Shoulders recalled a moment in high school where he was failing really bad in a class.

“My instructor, Mr. Scriber, had to call my mom. The two of them had a meeting and my mom ended up taking my phone. When this happened, I completed every missed assignment and finished the course with a B,” Shoulders said. “After that incident, I eased up and treated him with respect. I never picked on Mr. Scriber again.”

During the rest of his time at Jim Hill, Shoulders respected his teachers and did just enough to play in the band and play baseball before graduating in 2009.

While it looked as if Shoulders turned over a new leaf on his life, his journey of facing obstacles was just really unfolding.

After graduating from Jim Hill, Shoulders moved to Houston, Texas to attend Texas Southern University on a marching band scholarship and majored in computer science.

But for Shoulders, things took a turn for the worse.

“I went off to TSU and lost myself. I was homesick the entire time. I fell in love with the city of Houston and was not focused on school. I had no clue as to what I wanted to be in life,” Shoulders said. “I went from majoring in computer science to going undecided. My grades were horrible.”

Despite the lack of maturity and a time that was filled with multiple hardships and pain for Shoulders, this life experience would serve as a ‘blessing in disguise’ for him.

But as the good church folks would say, God doesn’t come when you want him but he comes right on time.

Before things got better, they got worse. This time, Shoulders lost the opportunity to do the one thing that kept him level headed throughout middle school: playing in the band.

“After doing bad at TSU, I decided to come back to Jackson to march in the Sonic Boom at Jackson State but that did not go as planned. I ended up getting kicked out of the band at JSU,” Shoulders said. “Not to mention, I was slightly hated because I went to TSU over JSU and every little thing I did was made out to be extreme.”

After leaving TSU and getting kicked out the band at JSU, what would be the next move for Shoulders?

“I had no chance of going back to TSU because my mother saw the terrible habits that I started. ‘You aren’t going back’ were her exact words when she picked me up from school after my first year at TSU,” Shoulders said.

There were times, according to Shoulders, where he simply wanted to give up on school and life in general, despite getting a second chance to fix his prior mistakes in life.

Often referred to as “Jesus Sticks” because of his stellar talent as a percussionist, Shoulders started over at JSU in 2010.

However, he often doubted his abilities and wondered would he ever finish school.

“I was very disappointed because the one thing that kept me going was no longer a part of me, drums. In 2012, I simply gave up because I had so many things going on and I could not handle it all,” Shoulders said. “I had thoughts of just working a job in hopes to come up after putting in some years at that job.”

In the midst of him giving up and living life in disappointment, Shoulders took this time to get closer to God instead. He began to go to church with his girlfriend at the time and attended church on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Shoulders said he began to notice how his life was changing right before his eyes.

“It seemed as though God was talking directly to me each time. The word was just so sharp and it was cutting me,” Shoulders said. I cannot say that I was perfect but I began to change how I did things. I started to reach out to people who were lost. I began to affect the lives of others because of the light that shined through me.”

Building on his relationship with God, Shoulders found a new sense of courage, hope and motivation.

One day, during the time when Shoulders was giving up on life, his little sister came home after school and asked him, “Bro, are you still in school?”

For Shoulders, at that moment, he knew that he had to finish school and could not give up because he wanted his brother and sister to see him finish. He wanted them to know that they could achieve anything they put their minds to.

With God at the head of his life, Shoulders enrolled in the entrepreneurship program at Jackson State after receiving a prophecy during a church crusade.

“The prophet told me that he saw me having my own consulting firm. Before he told me this, I wondered what God had for me to do,” Shoulders said. “After the service, I googled the type of degrees’ consultants had. Entrepreneurship popped up and amazingly, JSU had an entrepreneurship department.”

Not only did Shoulders become a student again, he got involved on campus, becoming a member of the Society for Entrepreneurs and the Accounting Society.

From there, Shoulders was one of eight men who worked for Integrated Management Services that helped start Trensek, a black-owned trending technology company based in Jackson. At the time, Shoulder’s worked as the company’s chief of marketing strategies.

“We wanted to show people that there’s no limit to success,” Shoulders said. “Clearly a tech company based in Jackson that was started by black men is enough evidence that anything is possible.”

After roughly six years of mistakes, hardships and difficult times, Shoulders future became bright. In December 2015, the boy who fought for acceptance from his peers in middle school walked across the stage as a man and college graduate from JSU.

“It was so surreal. I didn’t know how to feel. Reflecting back on all I went through, God literally drug me through until I could walk on my own,” Shoulders said. “Today, I could tell any young person to never give up on themselves.”

With any success in life, there are always people to help you along the way. Shoulders said he had quite a few mentors who changed his life.

“Dr. Mary White, the chair of the JSU entrepreneurship department, inspired and pushed me to be great. Dr. Causey taught me everything I needed to know with finances and real estate. Dr. Mercidee Curry allowed me to be one of the founders of the Society of Entrepreneurs,” Shoulders said.

“Dr. John Calhoun helped me change my major to entrepreneurship and taught me in some of my classes. He later gave me a job opportunity that led me to help start Trensek. Ms. Spires, she changed my life. Dr. Crump made me think outside the box and is an absolute genius. Dr. McClain would just give me a look and would no longer fuss at me. That was all I needed to see to get myself together.”

Following graduation, Shoulders worked for Trensek for roughly six more months before deciding to venture into other career aspirations. Shoulders is now in the process of starting a business with his best friends, Christopher Maddox and DeArko Griffin.

“We have a blueprint but we are finalizing things before we take this leap of faith,” Shoulders said.

When Shoulders is not finalizing the finished product of his business, he puts on snare drum clinics for young snare drummers, plays the drum set at his church and mentors young kids and percussionists at Jim Hill, giving back to the place that gave him the opportunity to do something that he loves.

“When I dealt with the rough patches of my life, drums and helping kids served as a portion of my sanity. A lot of the things I play often express how I feel,” Shoulders said. I’d like to help more kids and drummers as well because they need a light to follow. I can be that for them.”

While Shoulders is only 25 years old, he knows that there will be many more hurdles to overcome and burdens to bear in the future.

However, he said that is truly grateful for his experiences and would encourage everyone to follow their dreams in life.

“I’ve grown so much and I am still growing. There’s much more that I have to figure out and I am enjoying the process,” Shoulders said. “Keep pushing. There’s greatness in you and you must find your why. If there is no why, there is no ambition. There’s no drive. Never settle. Be yourself at all times and do what is right. Stay true to yourself and remember, to whom much is given, much is required.”

From the Queens to ESPN: Bamidele Idowu, the first Stuart Scott Intern

There is a popular cliché for parents to tell their kids to “dream big” and to “reach for the stars” while they are young. When they get older, however, those kids, who were once five or ten years old, grow up to realize that to achieve their dreams, it takes more than a simple dream to be successful. It takes effort, self-discipline and motivation.

For Syracuse University student Bamidele Idowu, these traits serve as the foundation for his life every day.

Growing up in the Queens, a rough, poverty-stricken neighborhood in New York City, Idowu, 21, gained a true understanding of discipline and hard work despite the circumstances that surrounded him. For Idowu, it was in this neighborhood that he gained his life motto of “it’s a dog eats dog world. Eat or be eaten.”

Pronounced Bah-mi-deli E-doh-wu, Idowu’s father, Sanya, named Idowu after his grandfather. Idowu’s name means “follow me home.”

“My name is very unique,” said Idowu. “I didn’t spend a lot of time with my grandfather but I live through his name and that means a lot to me.”

From the Queens, Idowu went to north Philadelphia to attend Girard College, a boarding school that played an instrumental role in shaping Idowu in to the man he is today.

“I spent 10 years of my life there and I learned a lot from my peers, residential advisors and teachers,” said Idowu. “They instilled in me the values of respect, responsibility, integrity, self-discipline and compassion.”

Similar to the Queens in New York, Girard College is located in the heart of north Philly, a dangerous area and something that Idowu was familiar with.

However, Idowu said he appreciates the way he was brought up and where he comes from.

“My hometowns made who I am and I take big pride in that,” Idowu said.

Idowu expressed a love for sports as a child, playing basketball, football and soccer in elementary and middle school and running track and cross country in high school.

While gaining a love for sports, Idowu also gained a passion for sports reporting in the process.

“People like Stuart Scott and Ahmad Rashad influenced me to pursue a career in sports reporting and mass communication,” Idowu said. “You don’t really see many black males on television. I noticed that as a child and wanted to make a difference in that area.”

Pursuing his passion as a broadcast digital journalism student at Syracuse, Idowu decided to apply for the 2016 Stuart Scott Internship, a new internship that was created by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and ESPN in memory of Stuart Scott for his contributions to sports journalism.

Idowu said he was very nervous to apply for the scholarship.

“I honestly didn’t think I would get it because I mean, it’s Stuart Scott. He’s the greatest of all time in my eyes,” Idowu said. “Many others applied and I felt like one lucky student would get it before me.”

For Idowu, however, the dream of working in a place where his idol once worked became a reality.

The NABJ Sports Task Force and ESPN notified Idowu that he would be the first recipient of the internship opportunity.

Idowu said he was emotional and could not believe it that he received the opportunity.

“I cried when I found out that I won. Stuart Scott is the man every young black kid wanted to be when we were younger. He was cool, intelligent and always kept it real,” Idowu said. “I know there are a lot of people that look at me and say why him? Well, I ask myself that too but my faith in the Lord is what got me here.”

Idowu also said it was amazing to be featured on SportsCenter for being the first recipient for the internship.

“It has always been my dream to be on the show,” Idowu said. “To see my mother’s reaction was priceless. I want to continue making those reactions happen with my family.”

The summer internship started on June 6 at the main ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., and it will end on Aug.12.

Idowu is a studio production intern at ESPN, where his responsibilities include operating a teleprompter during live programming and content responsibilities such as editing material for air, producing highlight content for air and preparing element reels for use by Event Production Department producers.

Nearly a month into the internship, Idowu said he is truly enjoying the experience.

“I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of my role models, sit in on SportsCenter and learn from the best,” Idowu said. “There is nothing more that I can ask for.”

While getting the Stuart Scott Internship was a dream for Idowu, he said that it is only the beginning to his dream of being a sports reporter.

“There’s so much left for me to accomplish. This opportunity has opened numerous doors for me. It is up to me to prove that I am all worth it,” Idowu said. “It is not an easy world to be a sports reporter because every guy wants to be one, but if you keep working, the opportunity is bound to come.”

Living a ‘Mile High’ Dream

Nearly a year ago, Cameron Wolfe was preparing to graduate from the University of Houston with a degree in broadcast journalism.

Prior to graduation, he solidified a spot in the 2015 Class of The Sports Journalism Institute, a nine-week training and internship program for college students interested in sports journalism.

Through SJI, Wolfe received an internship to cover sports with The Denver Post newspaper.

Sports reporting had always been a passion for him.

“I’ve always liked sports reporting. In high school, a teacher convinced me to write for the school paper,” Wolfe said. “My true passion for sports reporting came in college when I got into my broadcast journalism courses that allowed me to tell unique stories.”

During his internship, Wolfe made his experience more demanding, going after many assignments on his own and impressing his editors.

Little did he know, through his hard work and self-motivation, he would get the chance in what many young sports journalists would consider a lifetime opportunity: to work as a NFL beat reporter for the Denver Broncos.

For the Jackson, Mississippi native, it was his plan to do so from the very beginning.

“It was my plan to make sure that if the Denver Post didn’t hire me, it was because they didn’t have the money,” Wolfe said. “It was not going to be that I wasn’t ready for the job.”

Wolfe has been working for The Denver Post for 11 months.

Wolfe faced the demands of his internship with confidence. His confidence and his aggressive attitude in covering assignments helped him land his full-time position as a NFL beat reporter for the Denver Broncos.

As a beat reporter, he is not limited to covering breaking news online and in print for the Broncos. Wolfe writes feature stories, scouting reports and commentary. He also shoots weekly video standups and covers the Colorado Rockies, the Denver Nuggets, the Colorado Avalanche, Colorado State University (CSU) football and more.

Nearly one year into his job, Wolfe said working as a beat reporter has been exciting.

“I hit the ground running,” Wolfe said. “The job is high pressure for sure but I was never going to let anybody think it was too much for me.”

While there is no typical day for a sports reporter, Wolfe devotes every ounce of energy and time to covering his beat.

“I am at the facility everyday. Practice, games, etc. You have to own your beat,” Wolfe said. “Daily interviews, daily stories. It’s a 24/7 on-call job.”

In just one year, Wolfe has covered numerous stories that gained national attention. He broke the story about Broncos’ wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ mother coming to see his first game ever. He also covered the story about the CSU assistant coaches after Jim McElwain left and Super Bowl 50.

Wolfe said covering the Super Bowl has been his best moment thus far while working at the Denver Post.

“I dreamed of just going to the Super Bowl and now I covered it at 22,” Wolfe said.

Before he began entering the Broncos locker room for interviews or walking into Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sundays during football season, Wolfe grew up playing football at the safety position.

Realizing that he did not want to play after high school, he began to focus on his career as a sports journalist in college.

Wolfe wasted no time in preparing for his future. He started interning at different media outlets in his sophomore year.

Over the span of four years, Wolfe worked and interned in a variety of national and local media outlets.

He interned with numerous ESPN sports radio shows, worked as a news intern for KTRK ABC-13 in Houston, worked as an editor and sports reporter for El Gato Media Network, served as executive producer and sports anchor for the student video network, In the Game, as well as interned and worked on the sports desk at The Houston Chronicle.

Wolfe said he is glad that he did not limit himself to one medium in college.

“Journalism is transitioning into all digital. You can’t just write,” Wolfe said. “TV, radio and print are all blending into one.”

Today, Wolfe finds himself encouraging other young, aspiring sports reporters to make the most of their journalism opportunities in college.

“I tell aspiring sports reporters to do everything, TV, writing and radio. If I could go back and take more digital and web classes, I would. Experience is priceless,” Wolfe said. “Never say no to an assignment because somebody is always watching.”

Just a year ago, Wolfe was trying to pave a way for himself in the media industry.

Now, as many journalism students prepare to graduate from college, Wolfe said it is important for students to know that timing is very important when searching for jobs.

“Sometimes there’s no job. However, if you’re good enough, companies will find a way to keep you. Trust me,” Wolfe said. “Always give your all in your opportunities and internships. Work extra, even if you don’t think anyone is watching.”

As for Wolfe, he plans to elevate his opportunities and continue to live out his dreams in the Mile High City.

A Silver Dream

Coming from the Sunshine State, one south Florida native shares his journey of playing hockey at the collegiate level and how the game changed his life.

Heavy piles of snow toppled on top of each other, salt-filled roads and frozen lakes are just a few things one may see living in the northeast region of the United States during the winter season. For hockey athletes, frozen lakes means two things: lace up your skates and prepare for the most intense games ever. For Syracuse University athlete Ben Silver, however, his lifestyle for the game he loved was a little different from others.

Silver, 22, grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, a place and a region where many might argue hockey does not exist in the natural order of sports.

To put this in perspective, Florida is the Sunshine State. The climate year round, hot and sunny with mild winters. Sports, such as football, baseball and basketball, dominate the region.

But for Silver, hockey has been his go-to sport since the age of six. His father, Mitchell, garnered his interest for playing the sport while some of his friends were the first people on board to go to the beach.

“My dad grew up in Boston and played hockey throughout his high school school years. He introduced me and my brother to hockey by bringing us to the Florida Panthers games,” Silver said. “After I saw my first game, I was hooked and was able to start playing youth hockey that year.”

Silver said he will never forget the moment he got his first set of hockey gear before playing on his first youth hockey team.

The thing is, however, he did not play.

But it wasn’t his fought. Silver simply wanted to be like his favorite National Hockey League (NHL) player, Pavel Bure, the “Russian Rocket” who played 12 seasons in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks, the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers.

“Bure was a pure hockey player who could put the puck in the net whenever he wanted to,” Silver said. “It was a pleasure to grow up and watch him skate. I just wanted to be him so badly.”

Silver felt that if he could look like Bure on the ice, he would play like him and score a lot of goals.

Silver’s father took him to Play-It-Again Sports to get his first set of hockey gear.

According to Silver, his father was not entirely experienced about hockey gear.

“When he played, they they didn’t even wear helmets,” Silver laughed.

His dad bought him knee pads, elbow pads, pants, gloves, and a chest protector that were all Koho Jagr 68s, named after Jaromir Jagr, who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the time.

Luckily enough, Silver already owned a pair of skates.

When the two began to look at helmets, however, this was where things became interesting.

Mitchell bought Silver a white Bauer 4500 helmet with the same half shield that Bure wore. With all of his gear, Silver was ready to take the ice for his first game.

“My dad tied my skates, I strapped my helmet and I was ready to play. I stepped out to play and immediately I was not allowed to play. Six year olds could not wear half shields. I had to get a full cage,” Silver said. “I was thrown out of my first ever game because I wanted to be like Pavel Bure. Today, I still don’t wear a shield.”

Growing up in Florida, Silver did not have the luxury of skating at the local pond or building a skating rink in his backyard when playing hockey.

“It is a lot different from kids who grew up in the North where winter is an actual thing,” Silver said. “After school on most days, I would lace up my skates and set up a few goals in the street and play hockey by myself, or with my neighbor Chris.”

As a child, like most kids, Silver did other things besides playing hockey. He rode bikes, went fishing, skateboarded with his friends. In fact, skateboarding was very popular among him and his friends.

Silver recalled an exciting moment about skateboarding while he was going to a local skate park as a child.

“When I was in the second grade, I walked into the park with one of my idols, Tony Hawk,” Silver said. “I felt like the coolest kid in the world.”

Silver began to take hockey serious in the eighth grade, right before he went to high school at Pine Crest. Sadly, for Silver, Pine Crest did not have a hockey program.

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Determined to play the game he loved, Silver began playing for the Palm Beach Jr. Hawks, a junior hockey program in Lake Worth, Florida, roughly 20 minutes from his house.

During his freshman and sophomore years of high school, Silver played on the U16 ‘AA’ and U18 ‘AA’ teams. In his junior and senior years, he moved up to Junior ‘A’ and ‘B’ Hockey.

Silver said his parents played a huge role in allowing him to play in the junior hockey league program.

“They showed me the way and motivated me to succeed. The 6 AM practices, the long drives to tournaments, sacrificing their daily routines to turn me into a hockey player, its all motivation for me,” Silver said. “I never really say my hockey career or that I won a championship, I always say that it is ours.”

Leaving the sunny beaches and the warm climate of the Sunshine State, Silver went off to Syracuse University to pursue a degree in economics and sports management. While living in upstate New York for for the bitter winters, he also continued to play the game he so dearly loved.

For Silver, Syracuse was the perfect option for him.

“I’ve always had ties with Syracuse. My aunt, uncle and two cousins have lived in Syracuse for 30 years. Every summer, my family would drive up there [Syracuse] to spend time with them,” Silver said.

“My friend, Russell Suskind, was on the Syracuse hockey team at the time and had nothing but great things to say about the program. Thus, Syracuse gave me the opportunity to experience the four seasons that I didn’t get to experience much growing up in Florida.”

Four years in college goes by fast. Silver, who graduates in less than two weeks, has begun to reminiscence on some of his favorite moments of playing hockey at Syracuse.

He recalled memories of what it felt like to clinch a spot in the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I National Tournament, win the Memorial Cup during league playoffs and upset the University of Illinois in the Sweet Sixteen of the ACHA National Playoffs during his senior year.

The one moment Silver will remember the most is when Syracuse played its biggest rival school, the University of Buffalo, during his junior year. For Silver, it was probably one of the most packed and physical games he had ever played in.

“We were up 2–1 with a minute left to play in the game. Buffalo pulled their goalie for the extra attacker,” Silver said. “As Buffalo was possessing the puck in our zone, I stole the puck off one of the players’ sticks in our zone and fired a perfectly-angled shot into the empty net on the other side of the ice. Everybody went nuts. The best part about this moment was that my mom had flown up for the game and my goal celebration was pointing to her in the stands.”

For Silver, the intense moments on the ice will soon become distant memories.

More importantly, it was the life lessons that he learned and the relationships he built while playing hockey that he will cherish forever.

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“Hockey taught me self-discipline, teamwork, trust, leadership, taking my responsibility for my mistakes, goal setting, learning to deal with constructive criticism and overcoming challenges and frustrations,” Silver said. “It helped me become the person I am today and it provided me with 30 of my best friends who will remain my best friends for the rest of my life.”

After graduation on May 15th at the Carrier Dome, the south Florida native will return to the palm trees and sunshine in Florida to work in the corporate partnerships department for the Florida Panthers, his favorite NHL team.

Although he will not play professionally, Silver will remain close to the game that he has loved and dreamed of playing since the age of 6.

“I will miss walking into the rink with my best friends and stepping on the ice for practice, but I feel that ended my career on a high note and as a champion,” Silver said. “It’ll be nice to just have fun and be able to skate with my hometown friends and old teammates again.

Being a voice for the voiceless: Tyler Ricky Tynes

Growing up in the hood teaches people many lessons about surviving in the world. For some, it motivates them to leave and pursue excellence like never before. In the case of SB Nation staff reporter Tyler Ricky Tynes, his experiences of growing up in the hood reminds him how far he has come each day on his grind in the media industry.

Tynes, 22, grew up in the hood of north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but refused to let the conditions of his environment serve as a crutch in whether or not he would be successful. For these conditions would only fuel him to do what he does today: help people of color.

Currently, Tynes works as a race and society staff reporter for SB Nation in Washington, DC, discussing how the two categories intersect sports.

Before working in this arena of sports, however, Tynes maneuvered his way through the industry by working for the Huffington Post and The Press of Atlantic City and doing freelance work that consisted of duties and tasks that no one else wanted to do.

“I had a desire once I got to college to never be in a position where I had to go back to North Philly,” Tynes said. “I did every piece of grunt work I possibly could until someone did not have a choice but to hire me.”

Growing up an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan, the north Philly native left the city to attend King’s College, a small liberal arts college in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor of Arts in mass communication and media studies in May 2015.

According to Tynes, however, his journalism program or degree did not help him become the journalist he is today.

“You don’t need journalism school to be a good journalist. That’s the oldest lie in the book. You need experience. My first journalism professor told me I’d never make it to a national outlet or top five market, but I did both before my 19th birthday,” Tynes said.

Tynes did credit one of his professors from King’s College for serving as a mentor in his pursuit to be a journalist.

“Sue Henry is the reason I had faith in myself to do this job. She took me to the Sandusky Appellate Court Trials,” Tynes said. “She helped me get seven college journalism awards and played a big part of why my college experience was amazing.”

Despite Tynes’ disbelief that “j-schools help produce great journalists,” it was at King’s College where he knew he wanted to be a journalist.

“I met Sal Paolantonio from ESPN when I was a senior in high school and he told me I could have his job when I got older,” Tynes said. “Then, he [Paolantonio] forgot who I was when I saw him again at the Philadelphia Eagles camp in 2013.”

Throughout college, Tynes freelanced for numerous media companies including SB Nation, the company he works for now.

However, Tynes remembered his freelance opportunity for the Wilkes Barre Citizen’s Voice the most, saying this opportunity was not fun but it motivated him to be a better reporter.

“It was horrible. I found my way, somehow, to these obscure places in northeastern Pennsylvania every weekend. I got like $25 a story and I did not have a car,” Tynes said. “I had back mountain, coal-mining region white people stare at me every game as if I didn’t belong there. It was jobs like those that drove me to never want to have those jobs again.”

From his adventurous freelancing opportunities, Tynes landed his first job out of college, working as a breaking news reporter at The Press of Atlantic City in June 2015.

“My job here was code for: you’re only 21 years old, we don’t really value you more than most people in our newsroom. You’re going to sit at your desk for around nine hours per day and re-write press releases about foxes and rabies and other minute things that only our market cares about and isn’t really news,” Tynes said.

Tynes also said it was at this newspaper where he learned so much about the politics of the media industry and newspapers in general.

“My job started off great until I began helping black people in the city that the paper constantly ignored,” Tynes said. “I wrote too many articles that actually helped people but pissed off the mayors and police chiefs. My paper chose to side with the politics instead of morals. It was here that I learned that newspapers sucked and that they don’t really value diversity or youth.”

Determined to serve and advocate as a voice for people of color, Tynes left The Press of Atlantic City in December 2015 to work as a politics fellow at The Huffington Post where he covered the 2016 State of the Union, helped with coverage on the Flint Water Crisis, congressional reporting and stories centered around race and politics.

Unlike the The Press of Atlantic City, the Huffington Post believed in Tynes’ talent and taught him how to use different angles to tell stories.

“The Huffington Post told me to go do things no one else was doing and didn’t make me re-write press releases. Thanks Atlantic City,” Tynes said. “The HuffPost reminded me that there were still good newsrooms out there. I learned how to do political reporting and sharpened my angles as a reporter, which separates a lot of the best talent in the field from everyone else.”

After three months, Tynes started working as a race and society reporter for SB Nation in April 2016. Tynes, who had previously freelanced with SB Nation, said it was like coming back home.

“People like Elena Bergeron, Brian Floyd, Kevin Lockland, Michael Katz, Steven Godfrey and a slew of others, instantly made me feel at home again,” Tynes said. “Once I moved to DC to work for HuffPost, they bought me a cheesesteak. Anyone who knows me knows a properly made cheesesteak is the way to my heart.”

Now, with a job that he loves, Tynes looks to fulfill his ultimate goal of living his life how Drake raps on his albums.

To ensure this, however, Tynes remains in contact with his mentors for guidance and support about the industry.

Tynes’ mentors include Jenice Armstrong of the Philadelphia Daily News, Denise James, a former star producer and Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com.

“Myron finds a way to always – always – put me in my place. He’s a big motivation. He got to ESPN before he was 30,” Tynes said. “Jenice was my journalism mom through college and I’ll never go through a move in my career without consulting her. Ms. James (because I will never call her Denise) was one of the driving forces that made Stuart Scott great when he was interning in North Carolina. She helped me realize I can be better than the arrogant, 20-year old Tyler would have believed.”

After working in numerous places in just a short span of his journalism career, Tynes offered some advice for college graduates who prepare to enter the media industry.

“You aren’t too good for any job. Find one. Take one, dig in and commit yourself to that job,” Tynes said. “Then, get the hell out of there for somewhere that’ll pay you to eat dinner out once a week. My first full-time gig was in a dying casino town for $36,000 a year. It was pretty great money all things considering. But that’s the reality of this field. Take what is offered.”

While he has a job that he loves, for Tynes, his future now will consist of being a voice to the voiceless but more importantly, being the voice from a place he so desperately has no desire to go back to: the hood of north Philly.

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