Tag Archives: WJMC

From WJMC to WJC

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

As soon as the plane landed, I looked out my window, saw this and knew that I was here at last. My home for the semester.

Staring out my window looking at the Capitol, I think back on all that has happened and can’t believe I’m actually here in Washington D.C. The last time I was in the nation’s capital marked the beginning of this blog and my “journey to journalism”…and what a journey it has been! Before the craziness that is living and studying in D.C. begins, I figured I would use this downtime to recap all the major events that led to this very moment.


Like I said, this blog, and consequently this journey all started almost four years ago when I was invited to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). This program gathered high school seniors from around the nation who had one thing in common – we all wanted to pursue a career in the media. That week in D.C. gave me a glimpse of the world of journalism and provided me with amazing opportunities such as hearing from successful professionals in the field from the Today show’s Hoda Kotb to film critic Kevin McCarthy. Since it was more of an academic driven program, we had some assignments and one of them included blogging about our week in D.C. Thus, my “Nothing But the Truth” blog began.

I can’t really remember if this is exactly how it went down, but I’m pretty sure I was looking up more information about WJMC when I came across something called the Washington Journalism Center (WJC). They offered a semester-long journalism program where we could take classes and intern just blocks away from the Capitol. It seemed like the perfect opportunity, but it was offered to juniors and seniors… in college. I was still in high school, so that got put on the back burner until a couple years later…

An Unexpected Guest

In my sophomore year, my journalism professor invited someone to speak to my Writing and Reporting I class. The special guest was Terry Mattingly who just happens to be the director of, yep, you guessed it, WJC. Okay, so the director of the program I was looking into two years ago comes to my classroom. That must be a sign, right? Well, at the time I honestly didn’t think so. You see, when Mattingly came to visit my class, I was in a love/hate relationship with journalism. I still wanted to pursue that major, but I was second guessing whether the hard-hitting, fast-paced, deadline news scene was right for me. No doubt, there were certain things that excited me about being a journalist, but there were also things that overwhelmed me, especially after I started realizing how much social media has changed the dynamics of journalism. I even started to consider ways I could use my degree in settings other than the newsroom. So, when we had the director of WJC visit our campus, I didn’t flood him with questions like I would usually do. I took the flyer and that was basically it. Little did I know, his visit watered a seed that grew into a determination to attend WJC no matter what the costs were… and boy, was there a cost.

The Big Move

After telling my professor about my intentions to apply for the journalism semester, I started what I thought would be a normal application process. At the beginning, everything was going well. I had started my application almost a year before it was due so I figured I had a lot of time to work out the little details along the way. However, summer of 2014 came and since I was working at a summer camp, I didn’t have much access to my computer. This put the WJC related communications between me and my school on hold. When I came back in the fall to get all the school forms signed and submitted, there was an unexpected financial issue that surfaced and, to make a long story short, there was no way I could afford going to WJC through my university. So, the first week of my junior year, I transferred to another college that had a more cooperative school policy, and moved from Texas back home to Hawaii where I took online classes for a semester. Four years and two schools later, here I (finally!) am, back where it all started. I have no idea what to expect of this semester, but after all those ups and downs in getting here, rest assured, I intend on making the best of it!


WJMC: Day 5-6 (The End.)

There’s a saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday (the 5th day). Of course there was one stressful moment (my day would not be complete without one), but that’s what happens when you let a directionally challenged teen roam free on Capitol Hill.

We started off the day with a couple of sessions/speakers and then went to Union Station where we had a couple hours to eat lunch, browse inside the mall, and look at the monuments around the area. This was a much needed and much appreciated break.

Then it was time to go to the Capitol to meet with my Congressional Representative. This is where it got stressful, but I will spare you from hearing that whole story and just sum it up this way: high heels + being on the wrong side of the Capitol (and if you haven’t seen it, the Capitol is HUGE!) = walking almost the whole perimeter of the Capitol in high heels. If that doesn’t stress you out then I don’t know what will.

Anyway, despite my major detour and unplanned trek around the Capitol, everything worked out. Even though I didn’t make it in time to have my individual picture taken in front of the Capitol, I made it in time for my appointment with my Representative (which was an awesome opportunity). Plus, as shown below, I took a couple of pictures in front of the Capitol with my own camera, so it all turned out fine and the world didn’t come to an end.

One of the pics I got in front of the Capitol. I’m a bit proud of this pic only because I took this really quickly, by myself, while waiting for the buses to come. I think I’m going to go into professional photography… just joking, I’ll stick to journalism.

Once that was over, we traveled back to our dorms, prepared and then had our “Gala.” It was a great way to spend the last night of the conference. We all got dressed up and just had a great time.

The next day (actually half a day), we had our last small group meeting and speaker session. It was a bitter sweet day because I was tired and was ready to go home, but at the same time, this week flew by and I didn’t want to say goodbye to everyone just yet.

The last speaker of the whole conference was Nicole Quiroga, the General Manager of Telemundo. I’m not going to lie, being that we got back so late the previous night, I was not up for another speaker, but she turned out to be a great speaker to wrap up the week. Her lecture was very light and inspiring. After seeing and hearing the challenges of persevering in the field of Journalism and Media, her optimism and cheery attitude was encouraging and refreshing.

Summary: While flying all the way back home and having a 6 hour layover, I had time to reflect over this whole conference and the different things I experienced and learned this week. Now that I’m not sleep deprived, I can see what it really has done for me. I am fully aware that there are definitely parts in my previous posts that are negative (and rant-like). While there were stressful and even frustrating times, those little incidences turned out to be lessons learned outside of the speakers, activities, and museums and I grew because of them.

Going into this conference, I was expecting a “journalism is great and you’ll be famous” type of camp with lots of spare time (or at least a lot of time to go sightseeing). Instead, this conference revealed the truth in journalism. Many of these truths I had already been aware of, but seeing and hearing it firsthand revealed the reality of those challenges. Even being on a tight schedule, running off of little to no sleep, and things not going your way, are all things that I’m sure journalists have to deal with. All in all, every single thing I went through, even the tough parts, really contributed to what I got out of this week, and let me tell you, I learned so much!

I ended my fabulous trip with going to Busch Gardens with my friend, and his family, who I haven’t seen in over a year! It was a great and ironically fitting way to end this week. You see, we were both scared of roller coasters and challenged ourselves to ride all the big coasters at Busch Gardens. In the end, it was a blast and I believe I am a roller coaster fanatic now. Anyway, what does that have to do with WJMC? Well, like I mentioned in an earlier post, this week has been a “roller coaster” full of ups and downs, inspiring moments and discouraging moments, energetic and tired, and the list goes on. However, like my experience with the actual roller coasters, this emotional roller coaster was always moving and carrying me forward (at what felt like 70+ miles per hour!) and I came off of it eager to go back on and do it all again (despite the “troughs” and STRESS ;)).

Life is a roller coaster! 

WJMC: Day 4 (C-SPAN, Smithsonian Museums, Dean Flagel, and Thoughts)

Surprisingly, I don’t have much to say about today (watch this turn into a 7 page essay). I’ll just kind of go over the main highlights of today:

  • C-Span: We had to wake up super early so we could drive to the George Mason campus in Arlington to be the live audience on two shows (Washington Journal and Q&A). In both recordings, the WJMC students got to ask questions to the guests and also took answers from the hosts. This was definitely a first, and the students that took the mic to speak (LIVE) never failed to amaze me with their confident and intelligent comments/questions.
  • Smithsonian Museums: At lunch time, we were dropped off in front of the Air and Space Museum and were free to visit any of the Smithsonian Museums on our own. Unfortunately, I thought the museum that I really wanted to go to (National Museum of American History) was too far to go and come back in the time we were given, so I stayed in the Air and Space Museum. That was both a good thing and a bad thing. I misjudged the amount of time I had and although the Air and Space Museum has SO much exhibits, airplanes and space shuttles aren’t “my thing.” It was good because right about when everyone was walking back to the Air and Space Museum for the buses to pick us up, it started to pour. So many people came in drenched from head-to-toe, and we still had about 40 minutes left before the buses were to come. Basically, we were rained in and stuck in the Air and Space Museum. People were sitting on the floor everywhere! It looked like an airport terminal when all the flights are delayed.
  • Dean Flagel: Dr. Andrew Flagel, the Dean of Admissions at George Mason University, spoke to us about the various things to consider when applying for college. As tired as I was (he was the last speaker of the day) he captured my attention and held it for the entire time. He spoke to us in a very casual and up front manner and gave us a different approach to applying for and picking our future college. I won’t list everything he said ’cause this post is already getting lengthy (told ya it was going to be a 7 page essay) but it was very non-traditional and real. On top of that, he is hilarious and kept us laughing pretty much the entire time.
  • Thoughts: This experience thus far has been far from what I expected. It has been a roller coaster ride in the sense that my perspectives, inspiration, motive (and energy) keep fluctuating. To say the least, this has been more of an eye-opener to me than anything else. I came here thinking it was going to be a fun and exciting week that would just make me fall in love with journalism and give me “everything” I need to succeed in this field. Please don’t get me wrong, this has been fun and exciting, but at the same time, one moment I hear something from a speaker and I’m like, “Yes, I can’t wait to do this. I will go far and it all makes sense to me now.” The very next session I could come out feeling, “Of course I still want to do this, but this is really overwhelming right now and I don’t know if I have what it takes to do this.” Now, when I say, “I don’t know if I have what it takes,” I’m not really talking about skill and drive because I have learned this week that if you really want it, you’ll get it. What I’m talking about are the things that these journalists go through and how they’re built. It’s really hard to explain. All you need to know is that my perspectives of this occupations has definitely been challenged and it has given me a lot of things to consider.

WJMC: Day 3 (National Press Club, Hoda Kotb, Media, Humidity and Chaos)

I have mixed emotions about today. On the positive side, I got to experience so many amazing opportunities that have definitely shaped me more as an aspiring journalists. We heard from panels of speakers who have excelled in a wide variety of media from entertainment news to political news to public relations. It was a great way to get a little taste of what types of media are out there and the many types of jobs and experiences you can have as a journalist. Also, all the speakers had interesting insight on how journalism has changed and how influential social media is in this industry. Last, but not least, we got to go to the National Press Club, which is a private club for those in the journalism and communication field. While we were there, we had key note speaker, Hoda Kotb, come and speak to us, and she. was. the. best. I don’t think there was a single person in that room that didn’t fall in love with her. Hoda’s personality is so likable and she was just so real, open, and encouraging. There wasn’t even a split second of a dull moment when she was speaking.

The National Press Club building

Like I said, I had mixed emotions, so that means there was also a not so positive side to today.  A lot of it had to do with the lack of time that we had every where we went. Transitioning from one place to another was really hectic and by the end of the day I was exhausted and tired of being yelled at. This is probably due to the lack of sleep, but I really felt that even though we followed the directions, no matter what we did, we were always in the wrong place or not moving fast enough. In addition to that, we didn’t get much time to take pictures and meet with the speakers. As soon as they were done we had a little time and then we were rushed out and off to the next session. I understood that we were on a tight schedule and the speakers have busy schedules of their own too, but it was just really stressful and chaotic. I kind of got a “picture with Hoda,” IF you can even call it that. Now that I look back on it, it just makes me laugh, but hey, its proof that I saw Hoda, right? To top it all off, we had the moonlight monument tour which was really beautiful but it was extremely hot and we were all tired. In fact, we skipped the Jefferson Memorial because it was just too late and let me tell you, there was not one complaint about going straight back to the dorms.

My "picture with Hoda" (I'm uploading this in hopes to share the laughs that I get everytime I see this and think of how desperate I was to just get one picture with Hoda. I can laugh about it now but I was on a mission then! ;))

Even though that last paragraph was far from optimistic, I am truly enjoying this week. I think the lack of sleep and sore feet are really getting to me. We got back at 11 p.m. and we have to be at breakfast tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. As I’m typing this, it is 12:21 a.m. and I still need to shower and get ready for bed. Yikes.

WJMC: Day 2 (visiting the Newseum)

The main part of today was going to the Newseum which is basically the Disney World of news and journalism. With about 27 hours of video, 7 floors of exhibits and interactive studios, and much more, I am convinced that I could spend at least 4 full days there and maybe fully experience everything there. It is absolutely amazing to see all the various displays they have there and I can only imagine all the work that went into putting this whole “Newseum” together.

Although I felt much better than yesterday, I was still a bit dazed and I can’t remember every single exhibit I saw, but I can tell you that a few exhibits there had a HUGE impact on me. Of course there was the interactive, fun, and historical things, but what really stood out to me were exhibits like the 9/11, Katrina, and Pulitzer Photo Gallery. In these exhibits there were photos and videos depicting the horrors and striking reality of tragedies all over the world.

a piece from the top of the North Tower (of the Twin Towers)... all the newspapers on the wall behind it are front pages from various publications around the world with headlines concerning 9/11

The one thing that I never forget from this visit is the respect and gratitude I have for journalists and photo journalists. Just seeing some of those pictures of people in the midst of tragedy and loss affected me because, as obvious as this may seem, it occurred to me that this is real. It’s not make-up and the people aren’t actors, this is real life and real lives. It definitely made me realize how brave and heroic journalists are and I hope to one day join those amazing people and report from the front lines of disaster and tragedy (I’m not going to lie, it does scare me A LOT, but the excitement and challenge appeal to me so much). That pretty much summarizes what I experienced at the Newseum, and if you’re ever in the DC area, I highly recommend you stop there, but give yourself a lot of time to spare because you’re going to need it!

After getting back on campus, (and getting a very needed 1 hour nap on the bus ride) we came back and went to two various sessions. I got to hear from Dr. Jack Censer, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason) and Donna Leinwand (national crime/disaster reporter for USA Today). They were both very interesting and informative. Censer talked about the stages of publication and how it evolved over time due to factors such as cost, T.V., and the Industrial Age. Leinwand is actually in the exact career that I wish to be in. She travels and writes articles on “disasters and mayhem” all across the world. She really opened up about her career and all the things she has experienced. It’s amazing to hear all that she has seen and been through (including being shot at and seeing horrible injuries and casualties in person). Both sessions were really inspiring and cleared a lot up for me in regards to pursuing this career path.

Other than my email NOT working and refusing to send messages, this has been a great day and I can’t wait to visit the monuments at night and meet Hoda Kotb tomorrow.

WJMC: Day 1 (running off of no sleep)

Just a head’s up, this is going to be a super short post. 1) Because this is after 12 hours of traveling and then some and 2) Because it was only a half day and most of it is a blur due to the fact that I’ve been dead tired the whole day!

Honestly, I’ve never felt this tired before, I actually don’t feel too well. However, I’m going to take what our first guest speaker, Mr. Chris Cillizza, said and just continually push on and keep writing (which is why I’m blogging even after all my roommates are in bed). Anyway, what he shared was really motivating and a great way to kick start this amazing week.

Tomorrow’s going to be a super busy (but fun) day, I’m going to go to bed so that I will hopefully be more functional tomorrow and give you a better account of what’s happening.

WJMC has officially begun. Maybe not with as much energy, on my part, as I expected, but I’m still super excited. Hope this post is at least somewhat comprehensible. Good night.


I frequently mention how so many opportunities have come my way on this “journey to journalism,” but never really get any more specific than that… until now.

The biggest, most amazing thing that has happened to me so far, is, without a doubt, being nominated to be a National Youth Correspondent at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC).  I wish I could tell you that I submitted all these essays, and did all these outstanding projects that got me recognized and nominated, but this whole thing came about with close to no effort on my part. You see, students can only be considered to be invited through nomination by a teacher/educator. The thing is, I’m home schooled, so I didn’t really understand how I could even be nominated in the first place.  Turns out, they also look at PSAT scores, and when I took the PSAT, of course, I put “journalism” as my desired major. I actually still don’t know how my PSAT info got to them, but to sum it all up, I got nominated for this just for filling in a few bubbles on the back of my PSAT answer key (and not bombing the PSAT probably helped a little too).

This is what I mean by amazing. The biggest opportunity in my journey to journalism came when I was least expecting it (I didn’t even know what WJMC was until I received that invitation in the mail). On top of that, I didn’t do anything to pursue it (although, I’m not saying that good things come to you by being complacent and lazy.)

Anyway, I feel like this experience is exactly what I need to prepare me for college, set me on the right track , and show me what it takes to thrive in this industry. I can’t really explain fully what this conference entails because (1) I haven’t gone yet and (2) I tend to get giddy and ramble too much whenever I start talking about this upcoming trip. However, what I will do is post entries about my experience as I’m going through them. Ideally, I plan to do one entry per day and post them at the end of each day, but depending on how busy it gets, I might cram my whole experience into one post or just post the daily entries at the end of the conference. Either way, you will be hearing about it–so stay tuned!