Weimer Hall at the University of Florida. Photo by: Naidine Conde

Four Days at the University of Florida

My time at the CJCSI pro workshop

Day 1

I arrived at the university, from Miami, at 1:30 in the afternoon. As I sat in the lobby at Broward Hall I looked around and felt out of place. Some of the campers from the regular workshop were down stairs and already knew each other. I felt like the new kid who just transferred to a new school.

After I got my room key, I dropped my luggage off in my room and I headed down stairs with the rest of the camp. I started talking to a few campers who were also new to the workshop. I’m not a shy person and find it fairly easy to talk to others. Making friends made it easier to be in a new place five hours away from home.

That afternoon we had our first keynote speaker. He was from public relations at UF. Once that was over the camp got split up into their corresponding groups (broadcast, mobile production, and writing) and the camp had officially begun.

I was going to be attending the writing workshop taught by Professor Michael Foley.

The first class with Professor Foley lasted about four hours. During the first two hours I learned some tips and tricks about news reporting and interviewing that will help me for years to come. During the rest of class we all sat down in a room, on the third floor of Weimer Hall, and got right to business.

Our first assignment was to grab a partner and write a profile on them. Before we began sat down and read some sample profiles to help get us started.

After class all the campers headed down to Gator Dining Hall (which contrary to belief, isn't so bad). I was starting to settle in and felt welcomed by all the campers and staff members.

That night after dinner the students who were part of the writing workshop got to the dorms and we went straight to work. I spent hours with my partner and got all the facts I needed to start writing in the morning.

Day 2

I woke up in the morning, 6:30 sharp, and got ready to start my day. Breakfast started at 7:30 and class started at 9, which was more than enough time to eat and chill out with the rest of the campers.

Once I got to class we all went straight to the computers and started to write. Most of the students were afraid to turn in their first drafts to Foley, but not me, I was excited to have my work reviewed and edited by one of the best professors from the University of Florida.

After class it was time for lunch. I sure needed a break. I went to the bookstore, bought some gator merch, ate some panda express and grabbed coffee from Starbucks because I was drained.

Me along with fellow pro workshop high school student. Taking some notes down while interviewing Van Ness. Shot by: Emily Cochrane

Once lunch was over we headed back to class for our next assignment. We were off to interview Carl Van Ness, the University historian, at the George A. Smathers Libraries.

After the interview I learned a little about the origins of the university, headed back to class, and began to write my first draft. I was so glad when Steve Johnson walked into the room and told us we'd have more time to keep working after dinner.

After a hard day of work, it was time to from some self rewarding.

At 7:30 I hung out with a few of the campers at the Gannett Auditorium and watched the Women’s World Cup, while the rest of the campers went to the “bat house.”

Afterwards we headed back to the dorms and a group of us ordered midnight cookies. I had never heard about midnight cookies until that night, and all I could say is WOW. Not only do they deliver at late hours, but they are great!

Day 3

After breakfast I headed off to class (again) and to finish up my profile and the story on Van Ness.

Even though we had a bit of work to do in such a short amount of time I loved it. I love to write and I love journalism. I found pure bliss within all this work.

Photo by: Naidine Conde

After lunch we had a quick little photo workshop with Steve Johnson and got to walk around and see more of the UF campus. We learned tools and techniques on how to take professional quality pictures with iphone cameras.

Afterwards it was time for dinner and I realized, this is it, my last night at the camp.

It was a blast!

We played spoons (a card game) with 15 people! Then headed up to the third floor lounge and had a huge karaoke night.

Day 4

Final keynote at CJCSI. Photo by: Naidine Conde

June 28th. Our last and final day at the camp. We had class for an hour to publish our final articles. Then headed off to our last keynote. It included a panel with all three professors. They shared some of their experience in working in the world of journalism and some advice on how to succeed in this field.

Overall my experience at the College of Journalism and Communications Summer Institute was one I will never forget.

Left to Right: Sinclair Feldman and I in front of Bryan Hall. Shot by: Raeven Rodney

The people I met were incredible and made such an impact in my life. I hope to see them again one day. Spending these four days at UF reassured my decision in wanting to attend this university once I graduate.

I'm sad this is my first and last time attending the summer institute, since I am a rising senior.

In such a short amount of time I feel I've improved and have become a better writer. I can't wait for to school start and bring all the new skills I've learned to my journalism club. This was an amazing experience that reaffirmed my decision in making a career out of journalism. I honestly recommend this camp to students who aspire to be journalists.

Who knows maybe next time instead of being a student attending the camp I’ll be a volunteer, contributing to the wonderful College of Journalism and Communications Summer Institute.

Go Gators!

Photo of me. Shot by: Raeven Rodney
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