By Sam Baranowski ‘12
When girls are young they dream in images; they see themselves as Disney princesses, ballerinas or the next Hannah Montana. Instead, I dreamed in words. Journalism has been my passion since I used my hairbrush as a microphone to interview family and friends at age 6. Needless to say, when I was applying to college I was only looking at schools accredited for Journalism. There was a small school in North Carolina that I dreaded visiting, but my mother’s better judgment got me on a train to take a campus tour. The main reason I picked Elon over the other schools I applied and was accepted to was the ability to be immediately involved. Regardless of what area you choose, or even if you have yet to decide, you’ll start with hands-on learning in small class sizes from day one.
Phoenix14 News is the #1 campus news show in the nation, so I assumed they wouldn’t want freshman coming in and shooting stories. Well, I walked into the interest meeting and was asked what I wanted to do. I said “I want to report”, and immediately was told… “Great! What story do you want this week?” I wish I could have seen my face… I was so nervous. But an upperclassmen, who had won the Hearst Journalism award, Randy Gyllenhaal, taught me everything I needed to know. Then sophomore year, I was given the opportunity to anchor the show! Elon even sent a group of us to the Radio & Television News Directors’ conference in Las Vegas where we met Russ Mitchell, Bob Dotson and Steve Kroft, and made great connections to reporters and professionals! I’m so excited to be an international correspondent for Phoenix14 while I’m abroad doing an internship in London, and I’ll continue to report until I graduate. Being able to start on the show early in my Elon career made all the difference in my time in college so far! Definitely join a club or two when you get here, it’s the best way to meet people and learn more about yourself.
I like to call Elon a small school community with big school opportunity. Recognition and faculty relationships were deciding factors for me. I’m a rising junior at Elon (time flies!), majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. I’ve been blessed with great experiences already because of relationships I’ve built with professors, and my story is not atypical. As a Comm student at Elon you have a required internship (though most of us do more). I am so grateful to have interned at 60 Minutes this winter term! The best part about my internship was that I didn’t even apply! We have small class sizes at Elon (max 35) and that helps us build strong relationships with our faculty. One of my professors was speaking to the Senior Producer at 60 Minutes and his family, when the said he loved our program and wanted some Elon interns. So my professor explained that I loved the 60 Minutes, was trying to find an internship, and he essentially listed off my resume. I had an email in my inbox the next day asking if I wanted an internship at 60 in NYC. I wasn’t the intern stereotype—getting coffee and putting papers out—I got to work with all the producers and do my own interviews with Scott Pelley, Byron Pitts and Jeff Fager. I helped produce, write scripts, research and do preliminary interviews for the biggest undercover story of the year, and even found an interview subject myself! I went to Evening News a few times too, just to check it out! I learned so much and had a lot of fun asking about journalism and discovering the ins and outs of network news. The connections I made at 60 are ones I’ll keep for life.
It’s incredible to have such unique opportunities to improve your skills and learn about your industry. 60 Minutes wasn’t the only one for me, I’ll be leaving my study abroad program in London this fall to travel to Vilnius, Lithuania with two other students and our professor. We’re going to report and participate in the Internet Governance Forum sponsored by the UN! It’s going to be a rewarding research opportunity for us to meet and interview some important people in the world and experience international policy conversations. It’s also going to be fun because it’s an international reporting project, which is what I want to do in the future! It is so easy to create opportunities for yourself here, because of the Elon name recognition, access to technology and access to professors.
It’s little things like this… relationships, opportunities and curriculum requirements that will give you the most rewarding undergrad program possible. I’m obviously biased; I have so much Elon pride and I love my faculty and staff. The people you are surrounded by each day are what make life so great, and I know that I wouldn’t have had any of these experiences without the small class sizes, engaging curriculum, talented faculty and upperclassmen who are so willing to help younger students feel comfortable and confident enough to set big goals. I wish you all the best during your college search; it’s stressful, but it will all be worth it when you find a place that makes you happy!