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The experience of Next Generation Radio’s 2018 project in Sacramento has left an inspirational feeling in me that I expect will stay forever. The intensive one-week digital first project taught me about the commitment that is needed to produce a meaningful radio story with multimedia elements. I am proud of the story that I produced with the help of my great mentor Monica Ortiz Uribe along with other staff who showed high proficiency in their roles. As I reflect on my experiences, I will touch on two main aspects that I most admired about this project: my mentor and the program’s value.

Before I even packed my bags to travel to Sacramento for the week, I was already thinking about the project. I wouldn’t have done so if it wasn’t for my mentor. Monica communicated with me early and often, many days before she and I even arrived to Sacramento. We chatted about the project’s focus and brainstormed story ideas together over the phone, by email and text. It began to sink in that I was in for a week full of work and learning. That excited me. But, nothing prepared me for the rigorous and fast-paced nature of the program. We had been told to clear our week of other obligations. It all made sense.

Following an in-depth blueprint bootcamp to kick things off Monday morning, it was time to talk about my story and what my focus would be. This is when I realized the value of Monica in my week of training and multimedia production. Monica challenged my thinking processes as we discussed what to ask about and how to approach my interview. Aside from taking time to show me radio equipment and how to conduct a productive interview, she provided crucial critical thinking opportunities that resulted in strong and focused reporting. I challenged myself to keep up with her advice and to ask questions in order to develop my ideas further. Monica’s patience and helpfulness with me went a long way, considering my background in radio work is minor. I am thankful that my little experience in radio reporting did not deter me in keeping up with her leadership. In the end, I believe my story was thoughtful, meaningful and important. My many thanks to Monica for the assistance and advice that I will always keep with me.

That brings me to my next point — the value of this program. There was never a minute to spare this week. At any given moment, I had something due and I worked with my mentor to catch up and get done. The busy week is a glimpse at the life of radio reporting as it continues its digital-first approach. The audio, social and sourcing experience I obtained is greatly cherished. I have to thank Monica, Traci, Patrice, Andrew and Lita for their committed teaching during Next Gen Radio week. The value of this training program can’t be underestimated.

It also can’t go without saying that the student networking opportunity I had this week was rewarding. Just as I learned radio work, I learned about other students like me who, despite our fears we wouldn’t get into the program, took on the project this week in a dedicated and productive manner. Having taken part in this project gives me more reason to pursue other opportunities like it. My professional aspirations were magnified thanks to Next Gen Radio.