The summer of 2011 was a very meaningful one for me. It was the summer I returned as a counselor to the program that helped me discover my passion for journalism. I was merely a budding reporter in high school the summer of 2005 when I was admitted into the highly selective Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. The program — designed to diversify newsrooms — has continued to inspire minority youth from low-income backgrounds to pursue careers in journalism and to apply to prestigious universities they would otherwise consider unattainable opportunities.

Each year, the 10-day program immerses high school juniors into journalism through workshops and plenty of hands-on reporting. Reporters and editors from The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, and The New Republic educate the students on the various avenues of journalism. Summer 2011, I facilitated a workshop on the basics of reporting and helped edit copy before the program’s paper, The Princeton Summer Journal, went to print. I had visited several times before, but that summer I stayed for the duration of the program.

I, along with my fellow counselors, also taught them to adopt the mannerisms of a gutsy reporter. I recounted tough interviews of my own and pushed them to summon their own composure and assertive voice out in the field. Gradually, the students absorbed the skills we taught them and became comfortable using their own styles. As a mentor, if there was anything I was most proud to see them learn, it was their commitment to each story.

For a closer look at the program, visit: http://www.princeton.edu/sjp/

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