This summer, 16-year-old PHS sophomore Rachael Cross will travel to Washington D.C., to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC) at George Mason University.
Rachael chose journalism as a “career of interest” after realizing she wanted to stay as close as possible to her passions of reading and writing, while also being able to make a career of it. “I originally wanted to go into creative writing but it’s hard to make a career out of that. I wanted to stay in the field of writing, and that’s when I started to explore journalism,” said Rachael.
The WJMC is intended to teach, inform, and inspire aspiring high school journalists by offering them the opportunity to learn from proven professionals in the industry. This year’s speakers include CEO of C-SPAN Networks, Brian Lamb, who has interviewed presidents like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Carol Guzy, who covered both the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti, will also be one of the many seasoned professionals in attendance.
During the school year Rachael stays busy, and when asked about possibly contributing an article for the Irrigator’s “Teen Corner,” Rachael’s mother Mindy said, “We would really like to as soon as we get some time, but right now Rachael is very busy,” she said, listing her activities.
The Lions Club and the Soroptimists have helped to fund Rachael’s trip to D.C., with the Soroptimists planning to mentor Rachael for the next two years while she prepares to pursue her career. They began by helping to organize a fundraiser dinner to help pay for Rachael’s trip. “The Lions Club made a donation to cover the cost of the food, and my Dad, who went to culinary school, prepared the dinner,” Rachael said.
Organizers for the WJMC have arranged a trip to the White House as part of the conference, and they have encouraged the aspiring journalists to write letters to U.S. Representatives beforehand. “I wrote a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, and one of her secretaries wrote back and I’ll meet with one of her assistants,” said Rachael.
Rachael started reading the Harry Potter books at a young age, and recently dove into the classics, mentioning Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare as recent authors of interest. “English is my favorite subject because there is no strict rules and formulas like in math. You just write, and as long as you can defend your answer there is no right or wrong. What I like about journalism is that you get to take events and share it to people who might not otherwise find out about it,” said Rachael.
The Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University will take place from July 14 to the 19.