I never knew it was possible for one week to feel like an entire college semester’s worth of work. Wow, what an experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I met some amazing people whom I felt genuinely cared for my progression as a journalist. As a senior at Sam Houston State University, I never believed in limiting myself. The journalism field is evolving at a rapid rate and journalists nowadays need to know and develop skills in every area possible. That’s why this program was so appealing to me. I saw this as an opportunity to grow my arsenal of reporting skills alongside an established professional who has already done their fair share of learning.

And that’s exactly what I got out of it.

The week leading up and the Monday of the workshop was rough. I’ve always been an anxious person and my anxiety level was at the highest it’s been in years. I knew the main reason for this was because I didn’t have a story idea. Everyone else had their stories picked and ready to go, but all of my leads fell dark when it was actually time to start on the project. Luckily for me, I had my mentor Brenda Salinas by my side. She kept me calm and we found a place to go fishing for a story.

That’s when I met Amisty Ali.

It’s cliché I know, but one of the reasons why I love journalism is because I love telling people’s stories. Walking into Texas Rock Gym that Monday at 5:30 p.m. I didn’t know who I’d meet or what story to expect. It was a thrill walking around the gym talking to all the climbers, trying to find the right story to tell the world. I finally found it 54 minutes into my visit. Looking around the place, Ali appeared to be just another member of the Texas Rock Gym climbing the rock wall like everyone else, but hidden in her history was something deeper. Ali presented a story of love and overcoming fear.

I didn’t choose to spotlight a prominent Houston area or report on hard news or culture. I decided to tell a story everyone could relate to. A story that had a deeper meaning, which ties into what I learned this week. I learned that no matter what there is always a story to tell. Brenda taught me a new story organization technique that I’ll use starting Monday; and Ali taught me that no one should ever give up on love, and that you should always push forward despite the intensity of my anxiety.

I will cherish this experience for the rest of my life, and I am determined to make an impact on the next generation of young journalists when my time comes.

Thank you, Next Generation Radio.