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Far From Home

By Chandler McCollough
Co-Editor in Chief

Erin O'Neill during a "learning" photo shoot. Photo by: Chandler McCollough

Erin O’Neill during a “learning” photo shoot. Photo by: Chandler McCollough

Erin O’Neill was one of six students that crossed Arizona state lines to attend the Cronkite Institute for High School Journalism at Arizona State University. Her hope was to gain journalism experience, and learn techniques to bring back to her newspaper staff.

The 16-year-old native from York, Pa. attends Central York High School and was the editor-in-chief of The Prowler, her school’s newspaper.

When O’Neill’s newspaper advisor first suggested O’Neill apply for the program, she was weary. She was interested in journalism, but wasn’t sure if it was a potential career path for her to pursue.

She travelled 2,251 miles making her commute the longest of any institute member. She attended the Summer High School Digital Journalism Institute along with 17 other students who also focused on digital media. They also interacted with 16 students who were enrolled in the Summer High School Broadcast Institute.

Faced with the challenge of adapting to new surroundings, one of O’Neill’s struggles was Arizona’s weather.

“The weather is a lot different,” she said. “In Pennsylvania, we have a different heat; it is more humid and it rains often.”

As she made her way into Phoenix the change of scenery brought her joy.

“I’ve never seen a palm tree before and we only have hills, no mountains,” she said. “They made me so excited!”

Prior to her trip to the desert, O’Neill saw a change in the news coverage as she researched Arizona’s environment.

“In Arizona, immigration is a big topic of news, however in Pennsylvania immigration is not a discussed topic,” she said. “Being a journalist, I find it interesting that news is very localized, and changes with the area you are in.”

Thirty-four students participated in this year’s summer journalism institute where they were exposed to classes in videography, photography, digital media, production and broadcast journalism. After two weeks of the program, each student developed new skills and sharpened old techniques to take back home.

Reach the reporter at chandler_mccollough@hotmail.com or via Twitter @channybigmac


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