All posts by Jason Reid (Baldwin High School)

A short stay with lasting impressions

Today was the last full day I have here and it was by far the most fun.

I interviewed someone everyone should strive to be—a 20-year-old student named Ruchi Shah. Seeing how passionate she is about her goals really lit a fire in my belly about kicking my plans for the future into overdrive.

Today I also learned just how fun video editing can be, and I can safely say that it could be my career.

I realized this type of work truly can be fun—I found my love for not just video editing but word editing as well. I’m so excited to go back to my school’s newspaper and teach them everything I’ve learned here. Even now I have so many stories  in mind and I’m so ready to take on every single part of their completion processes on my own.

Coming out of here, I feel like I have evolved into an entirely different journalist. I thought they were joking when the advisors said they could cram an entire college program into a week and see dramatic change, but I know better now, because they were very much correct.

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Ruchi Shah is a junior at Stony Brook University where she is currently in the pre-med track and minoring in journalism. While there she developed a mosquito repelant and she was featured in IMPACT magazine's top 30 under 30. (Sharon Ahmed)

Communicating science and passion

At 20 years old, Ruchi Shah has achieved more than many people do in a lifetime.

A junior biology major at Stony Brook University, Shah has participated in a Forbes Women’s Summit, already given a TEDx talk, and secured provisional admission to medical school.

“My dream job would be to marry my interest in biology and in science with my interest in journalism and communicating science,” said Shah. “I’d love to be a medical correspondent.”

Shah said her journey began with little more than passion and high school-level science equipment to go on. With the help of mentors, she developed and now plans to market a low-cost, all-natural mosquito repellent that she hopes will bring about global change.

“I think by travelling and talking to people and getting different perspectives, you gain a lot in terms of just different advice,” said Shah. “. . . I’ve also met a lot of women who are now my mentors in a lot of ways.”

This summer, Shah has interned at Fox News, with a focus on science reporting. Her own science research informs her work, she says. “I’m really passionate about investigating diseases and how to improve diagnoses and really improve healthcare in the United States.”

Shah credits careful time management with enabling her to juggle academics, research and a social life.  “It’s really hard balancing everything during the school year,” Shah said. “ I have a planner and it’s almost like every hour there’s something going on.”

Shah said despite how far she’s come, she feels like she’s only beginning. “I’m nowhere near being done,” she said.

“I think when you really find that one thing that clicks with you,” Shah said, “it’s not an effort to be passionate about something.”

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Jason at the Ducks

Lies – it was all work, all day yesterday

Yesterday was by far the longest day of my life. We covered stories at the Ducks game. Along with figuring out a story to cover, we had to figure out how to cover the story without violating any rules given to us by the ballpark staff and our advisors. We spent most of our day running up and down the stadium stairs lugging around video equipment.

Finally we were able to take a break and get some snacks, I had to order the largest most sugary smoothies in the place from Tropical Smoothie. I learned yesterday that it’s not easy stopping a random stranger for an interview, let alone trying to do it as a teenage boy. It was humid and all I wanted to do was sit and nap, but I had to keep my balance and composure. It was difficult maneuvering through the large crowds of people; it was even more difficult to politely accept being denied an interview after managing to find a person. The coordinators claimed yesterday would be work in the morning but fun in the afternoon, but honestly it was just all work. Though strenuous, the work really opened my eyes to what it’s like to be a reporter and I consider yesterday to be a great learning experience. Not every story you cover will be easy to cover, and even more importantly, not every person is willing to talk to a group of teenagers about a September 11th memorial outside of a baseball stadium at 8 at night.

But that was last night and this is today, and I have to take charge in video editing for the footage from the game and also the Camp Kesem story we have been covering, today will be just as long as yesterday, if not, it will definitely be longer, but the work has to be done sometime am I right?

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Jacqueline Napolitano

Jacqueline Napolitano: Born to broadcast

Jacqueline Napolitano, a Commack High School junior, has her eyes set to be in front of the camera. When she was as young as 12 years old, Jacqueline was inspired to report: Her idol was none other than former NBC “Today Show” host Katie Couric.

She wants to broadcast news, not just write it.

“I hope to work for something like The ‘Today Show’ or even ‘E! News’” Jacqueline said, speaking of her future.

In her sophomore year in high school, Jacqueline took a TV studio class and saw just what it was to be a broadcast journalist along with expanding her horizons, both socially and creatively.

“I took it in 10th grade, and that’s when I found out I could be myself and I found other people who were just like me,” she said. Jacqueline said that, although she had already found her clique of best friends, she would have never made many of the good friends she has now without that class.

In her junior year, Jacqueline rejoined her school’s newspaper, The Courant. She used the newspaper office along with the TV studio as a place to escape the everyday problems of high school.

It became apparent to Jacqueline that being in the newspaper office or in the studio was where she could really express herself. “It was a way to expose who I was”, she stated, “When I was on camera especially, I could be goofy and serious while reporting.” Not only did she show her charm on camera, Jacqueline was able to show her personality on the page as well.

After a brief hiatus, she returned to the school newspaper as a staff editor with high hopes of becoming editor in chief. She credits Christina Semple for her talent as a journalist.

“She taught me everything I needed to know in such a short time” Jacqueline said.

When it comes to college, Jacqueline has her sights set on Syracuse and just about any other major journalism school. She expects to change her minor countless times, but states that broadcast journalism will be her major throughout college.

In the near future she expects to learn a lot from the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists, not just from advisors but the other attendees as well, and she hopes to get a taste of college life.

The “Today Show” had put broadcast journalism in Jacqueline’s mind, and it hasn’t left since. Her parents supported her in this and have encouraged her every step of the way from then to now.

“They are extremely supportive in whatever I do,” said Jacqueline. According to the future journalist, Jacqueline’s parents always raised her to believe she could accomplish everything she set her mind to.

This passion was accompanied by great personality and optimism.

“Jacqueline has the potential to be a great journalist because she is outgoing and she can get along with everyone,” said Melissa Minerva, Jacqueline’s friend of 10 years. “The greatest quality about Jacqueline is her personality.”

When she reached middle school, Jacqueline found herself chasing her dreams as part of her school newspaper. Although she had always been fascinated by reporting, Jacqueline states that it was a good step towards the real deal. Although she excelled as a journalist, Jacqueline says she feels that she belongs in front of the camera, broadcasting the news.

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And so the work begins

This morning we met Sandra Peddie an investigative journalist for Newsday. Hearing her talk about her experiences with Bob Greene and watching how excited she was to share her stories truly made me realize that investigative journalism is my career goal. Photography is also on my mind, though yesterday was the first time I ever truly did photography other than vacation snapshots or the more-than-occasional-selfie.

Capturing Prof. Ahmad capturing students. Photo by Jason Reid.
Capturing Prof. Ahmad capturing students. Photo by Jason Reid.

Everything we started yesterday really does have me hungry to learn more. We had our first press conference and we practiced with video cameras later that day as well. Oddly enough, never once did I feel overwhelmed by a task. I even came out of my shell a bit and asked Shawn Heilbron, SBU’s new athletics director, a question during our press conference. Today is a new day, however, and apparently this is where the work truly begins.

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A great week ahead

Coming here, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was, in a sense, worried about what it might bring. “What will my roommate be like?” “What if he’s rude?” “What if he smells bad?”

Luckily for me my roommate, Alejandro, is cool. It made this first night here really cool. We found out our interests are very much similar. It wasn’t so difficult making friends with the rest of the boys in this group, simply because there are only five of us. But fitting in isn’t all that hard here, it seems like everyone here has at least several things in common with each other, which makes getting along fairly easy. We ordered in pizza our first night, which was a great way to kick off the week.

Upon retiring into my room for the evening I realized that staying here for a week won’t be so difficult. Despite the beds being harder than the tile floors here, sleeping wasn’t much of a problem, mainly because just thinking about our schedule for the week. In all sincerity, I couldn’t be more excited about the what’s to come.

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