Writing has always been my passion. Even when I didn’t know that I wanted to become a journalist, I had the habits of one. I asked tons of questions to everyone that I met growing up: teachers, my parents, store managers, you name it. I was learning the core of a being a good journalist, but I was completely oblivious.
I got a taste of journalism in high school with a news-writing course. I was writing for Patch and editor of my school paper by the time I was a senior. It was certain that I would attend journalism school at the University of Missouri at Columbia, and I was more than ready. There was one journalistic experience in high school that proved to be very meaningful.
I attended AAJA’s JCamp in Michigan in summer of 2011. I was under the assumption at first that JCamp would be like any other high school workshop I attended. I was wrong.
From the moment I arrived, I was immersed with 41 other students into a world of journalism. I faced expectations which made me feel more like a college student than a senior in high school. I learned the importance of paying attention to news at a local, national and global level. I met professionals from various mediums, including Richard Lui, Chris Lawrence, Joie Chen and many others.
I received a great foundation in journalism. Personally, I am very introverted, but JCamp helped me to become more social, even if only for a few days. I realized that the expanse of JCamp was not just the people I came in contact with for just a week, but connections that help me today. Now that I am half way through college, I find the AAJA Facebook page to be very helpful. My connection to AAJA did not end with my return home after JCamp, it’s still going strong. I have people I can depend on for the latest job and internship postings, as well as people who can help me with story ideas and sourcing.
Although JCamp lasted a mere 6 days, those days were so crucial and important to my development. The most valuable lesson I took from JCamp was to believe in myself. JCamp gave me the idea that I could accomplish my goals in journalism. I’ve never been one to think small, and having professionals around who’ve accomplished their own goals meant a lot to me. Since JCamp, I written for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Columbia Missourian and USA Today College.
AAJA means more to me than conferences, keynote speakers and membership. I’ve told so many people about my experiences with AAJA. I’ve told people how AAJA encourages diversity, raises social awareness and inspires its members to reach their full potential.
I’ll continue to sing the praises of AAJA because JCamp gave me the inspiration to continue in journalism and reach my goals.
Ymani C. Wince
JCamp Alum, 2011