Communications students, alumni attend NABJ convention

Simone Jasper ’16, Atoria Mills ’17, Jasmine Spencer ’11 and Zora Stephenson ’15 traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota, in August to attend the National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention.

<p>Pictured (from left) are Jasmine Spencer &rsquo;11, Simone Jasper &rsquo;16, Atoria Mills &rsquo;17, Nagatha Tonkins and Zora Stephenson &rsquo;15. Photo courtesy of Tonkins</p>
​Two students and two alumni of the School of Communications attended the National Association of Black Journalists’ annual convention and career fair, held Aug. 5-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Atoria Mills ’17, a journalism major, and Simone Jasper ’16, a journalism and Spanish double major, attended the convention with Nagatha Tonkins, director of internships and external relations for the School of Communications. The convention celebrated NABJ’s 40th anniversary. It is the country’s largest organization of black journalists.

Zora Stephenson ’15, a media arts and entertainment major, participated in the highly selective NABJ Student Multimedia Project program, an expenses-paid fellowship for outstanding students to report on the convention and chronicle local stories in its host city. She worked alongside professional journalists and educators for the program’s broadcast team. 

Jasmine Spencer ’11, a WGHP-TV reporter in High Point, North Carolina, was also in attendance.

“Participating in the Student Multimedia Project at the NABJ Convention was a rewarding, challenging and amazing experience,” Stephenson said. “I learned more than I ever thought I would. I not only created professional contacts and mentors, but friendships as well. The program will put you in challenging and time-sensitive situations that are guaranteed to make you a better journalist. During the program students get the chance to work side by side with some of the best in the business as they create their own content each day.”

Stephenson encourages aspiring journalists eager to improve their reporting skills to apply for the Student Multimedia Project. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” she said.

Jasper and Mills attended various professional development workshops, with topics ranging from writing for social media to reporting on law enforcement. Through the workshops, career fair and other events, the students networked with industry professionals and gained knowledge about different facets of the journalism field.

“My NABJ experience was electrifying!” Mills said. “It was amazing to be inspired by all of the black professionals doing amazing work in the world of media and news. It really proved that working hard now will be worth the career you aspire to later.”

Added Jasper, “I thought the NABJ convention was a great way to meet media professionals and learn more about the journalism field. I had the chance to meet so many influential people in the industry, and I was glad to represent Elon University.”

Year after year students enjoy their experiences at the NABJ convention, Tonkins noted.

“The best part of the convention and career fair is always seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the students,” she said. “They always walk away with more confidence and passion for the industry. When they see so many national and international journalists who look like them excelling at their craft, it’s just a powerful experience.”

Simone Jasper ’16 contributed to this story.