During the 2019 SIPA convention, I was elected to the student board as a member-at-large. I wanted to run for SIPA Board because it is the convention that initially piqued my journalistic interest. I found the classes informative and inspiring, and I wanted to be a part of giving that experience to more budding journalists. SIPA 2020 was March 6-8. My duties included speaking at the welcome ceremony, assisting with running “SIPA’s Got Talent” and running the SIPA Snapchat. I don’t use Snapchat for Wingspan, so it was a unique learning experience on how to document an event through that platform. My student officer spotlight can be found here.
In addition to being on the board at SIPA 2020, I was also the recipient of the Mary Y. Inglis scholarship and the captain of West Henderson’s quiz bowl team. This was the first year we have participated in the competition, so we had no idea what to expect. I studied with my team on the three-hour bus ride down to the convention and made sure they felt confident. We ended up placing 5th out of all the teams, but we were very excited and happy to have had the experience.
I attended North Carolina Scholastic Media Association (NCSMA)’s Summer Institute the summer before my junior year, and it was a turning point in my journalistic career. I realized I could see myself in an editorial position, and then I became Web Editor-in-Chief for the 2018-19 school year. The next summer, I attended the Institute as a member of The Rush staff, who report on the events of the Institute. I got the opportunity to work with Erica Perel, general manager of the Daily Tar Heel, and Steve Hanf, adviser at First Flight High School. I wrote a profile about the 2019 NC High School Journalist of the Year, Ashleigh Fields, and then worked on design. Although I had never designed for newsprint before (as Wingspan is a newsmagazine), I picked it up pretty quickly and won The Daily Tar Heel scholarship.
Because I was Web Editor-in-Chief as a junior, I have learned a lot more about team building than I would have if I was a follower the whole time. Here, I am working with one of my feature writers and showing her how the website runs because I am currently the only person in our program who knows how to post stories. I have learned how to teach with humor and patience so that people stay interested in learning new skills, as opposed to finding it boring and quitting the class. I lead by example, staying spirited and optimistic so that nobody gets bogged down by the amount of work. It can be hard to be positive when in such a high-stress environment, but I find that remaining positive motivates younger staffers to work hard and not give up.