By Nick Gibson

This last week at NPR Next Generation Radio has been an absolute whirlwind. 

It all started when my trusted journalism advisor at Clark College encouraged me to apply. As a self proclaimed OPB fanatic and aspiring audio journalist, I jumped at the opportunity.

When I submitted my application, I wasn’t sure if I was a strong enough candidate to be chosen. I believe in my work, but I’m not as seasoned as some reporters and opportunities like these can seem out of reach for community college students like myself. 

As an up-and-coming journalist, it can be hard to figure out how to get into the industry. It often feels like it’s necessary to go to a widely renowned school like Northwestern, Harvard, or Yale in order to gain access to internships and jobs.

An illustration of my story. (Credit: Ard Su)

Community college students often get overlooked for competitive opportunities across the nation. According to the Asian American Journalists Association, in 2018, 65% of summer interns from publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR came from “very selective universities”. The survey found NYT and The Washington Post in particular recruited from the top 1% of schools ranked by selectivity.

However, community college students are a valuable part of this industry and should be recognized as such. Those students are often working with limited funding and limited access to equipment while juggling other responsibilities like parenting or a part-time job.

When those students are overlooked it leads to a lack of diversity in newsrooms, which in turn leads to underserved and under-covered communities. On my own campus, a third of students identify as BIPOC and our newsroom is made up of several diverse, hardworking and thoughtful journalists. I believe in my peers — they deserve to be recognized for the valuable contributions they have to offer the world.

It meant the world to me to be selected for NPR Next Generation Radio because of what it means for me, my school, and community college students everywhere. I’m excited to take everything I learned this week and share it with my own newsroom.

I am so grateful for the guidance and support of everyone on the Next Gen team. Thank you all. It was such a pleasure getting to know everyone and to learn from them. I especially want to thank my mentor, Liz Miller from OPB, who was an absolute treat to laugh with, learn from and work with. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor; she’s a talented journalist and a lovely human being.

To my fellow mentees, you guys are incredible. Be proud of what we accomplished amidst a global pandemic preventing us from actually meeting face to face. I can’t wait to see where your careers take you and I will be rooting you on the whole way!

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