Reporter for a Day: Military-Raised Students See What It’s Like

Last month, the Military Child Education Coalition’s 20th National Training Seminar took place in Washington, D.C., supporting military-connected students who attend public and Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools.

During the event, two high school student journalists, Anika Davis and Leah Lee, both incoming seniors at Quantico Middle/High School in Virginia, had the opportunity to meet and interview leaders in the military education community. They also got to experience firsthand what it’s like to be a reporter for the day, getting mentorship by current Department of Defense communicators from the Defense Media Activity. Below, they describe their experiences:

Anika Davis

A few weeks ago, I was able to go to an event for the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and work as a cub reporter/interviewer with my friend, Leah Lee. It was a really huge honor to be selected to go, but at first I wasn’t too sure what all the excitement was about, especially because I wasn’t all to sure what I was even going to be doing aside from playing journalist for a day. In my mind it wasn’t super exciting until I actually got to the event, then I got what the big deal was and I was excited (and a little nervous) for the rest of the day.

Anika Davis

The conference was in D.C., and we had to be there early, which meant we had to wake up even earlier; I had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. in order to get on the highway by 5 a.m. and fight rush hour traffic until we got there at 7 a.m. When I got to the hotel where the conference was taking place, I was a little intimidated by how fancy everything was and how well-dressed everyone was; it was definitely not the kind of environment I’m used to, but that just made it even more exciting. Leah and I met with the team of people that would be showing us around, and we finally got started.

Throughout the day, we got to interview a lot of different people. While we didn’t get to talk to everyone we’d hoped for, we did get to talk to a lot of cool people with some pretty interesting jobs. One of my favorite parts of the day was getting to use the camera; while Leah went up to people and did most of the talking, I got to hold the camera and record it. I love photography as well as taking videos, so as far as using the camera went, I was right at home. My arms were completely sore by the end of the day from holding the camera up without moving for so long though; it was completely worth it.

All in all, it was  a really great experience. Interviewing people made me realize it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was, it could actually be really fun! The questions seemed to become less rehearsed and more freeflowing like a conversation should be. After interacting with so many people, including the reporters who got to follow us around all day, I definitely learned a lot and I will keep what I learned in mind for all my future journalistic endeavors.

Leah Lee

Leah Lee

With summer break quickly coming to an end and school steadily approaching, participating as a student reporter for DoDEA in Washington, D.C., made for a great segue back into my educational career. Not only was waking up before the sun reminiscent of the past school year, the fast-paced learning experience as an on-the-go reporter mimicked that of the heavy course load of a senior.

Going into this program, I had been expecting to learn just what it would be like being a reporter – mainly the basics such as how to conduct an interview and how to work with the cameras and behind the scenes of reporting. What I had not been expecting was to be pushed out of my comfort zone, learn to quickly deal with disappointment and move past it, and to think on my feet and just go with the flow. It wasn’t my expectations that made this experience, rather, it was the unexpectedness of the entire program, which had made it a completely memorable and enjoyable learning experience.

Starting off the day with a speech from Karen Pence, the Second Lady of the United States, only proved that this experience was bound to get better. Soon after the speech is when we dove head-first into the experience of a reporter, rushing to hopefully catch an interview with Mrs. Pence as she was exiting the conference and unfortunately learning the first lesson as a reporter, which is that you may not always get that interview. However, the key is to quickly move past it and look for your next scoop, which is exactly what we did.

Throughout the day, we moved from person to person, taking interviews and holding conversations with a few people that were a part of the conference, sitting in multiple sessions ranging from Kids and Media to Programs for DoD and Non-DoD schools, and vlogging during our free time – even holding an impromptu interview with some men from the wait staff of the hotel the conference was held in.

Overall, the day had been exciting, new and easily held my interest the entire time. I hope for the opportunity to be presented again to the next group of rising seniors at Quantico Middle/High School. 10 out of 10, I would recommend.

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Reporter for a Day: Military-Raised Students See What It’s Like