By the University of Cincinnati News
Her mentors call her passionate. She calls herself eager to learn. We call her a Bearcat.
And on January 28, University of Cincinnati sophomore Mary Williams' name will be called as "Student Journalist of the Year," at a National Educational Telecommunications Association ceremony in Washington, D.C.
The award is for Williams' video reporting and mentoring contributions over the last year to the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL), a nationwide, high school based, broadcast journalism program designed to help students produce news stories for the network's evening news broadcast, PBS NewsHour, that relate to their own lives and the experiences of their peers; SRL students are mentored by volunteer teachers, graduates and PBS professionals at 150 schools across the nation.
"I didn't know what to expect going into journalism, but as soon as I heard you’re going to get to ask questions, work with cameras and lighting it all just spoke to me," says Williams, now an electronic media major at UC's College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She started her journey to the awards podium at Hughes STEM High School, part of the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS), in 2015 while in 10th grade.
While at Hughes, Williams says there were two programs that piqued her interest. The first was the ShareIT program, a collaboration between UC and CPS schools where students get to learn about and experience different aspects of information technology, talk in-depth about what it takes to be successful in each field and create pathways to achieve goals. Significantly increasing the number of Cincinnati Public School students who enroll and graduate from UC requires systemwide support that UC calls CPS Strong. These deliberate investments in preparation and access, support and engagement, scholarships, mentoring and professional development are outlined in UC's strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Student Williams earned a spot at Hughes as a ShareIT intern, honing in on web design and the intersect of photos and full-motion video over the internet.
"She has an immeasurable amount of talent and passion and I can’t wait to see what she does with it," says one of Williams' ShareIT mentors Josette Riep, director of the university’s information technology department. She adds that Williams was the first of a handful of high school students to enroll in the program, and her achievements are applauded by everyone in the IT department. "We are all behind her," says Riep. "It's part of our mission here. We all believe that we are here to serve the students and do anything that we can to create a more inclusive environment."
"Mary has a personality that makes you want to help her, because you know that she's going to do something with that help," said Melissa Sherman, Mary Williams' mentor at Hughes STEM High School.