Students get taste of college and journalism at workshop

Tim Jacobs

Eman Hassouneh, a high school student from Cleveland, sat hunched over a computer in Taylor Hall’s first-floor computer lab, filtering through her notes and typing away.

She was one of about thirty middle school and high school students who attended Kent State last week for the Dow Jones Diversity Institute, a week-long summer program for inner-city and minority students who are interested in journalism.

Gene Shelton, assistant professor and academic diversity adviser for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said the selection process for hopeful program participants begins in the fall when he visits high schools and middle schools in northeast Ohio, mainly looking for “rising ninth-graders.”

“I talk, they fill out an application, write two essays, submit three letters of recommendation and some of their own work,” Shelton said. “Those who write the best are offered scholarships.”

Students in the Diversity Institute not only get experience in writing for the media, but they also get experience in college life.

Sasha Parker, senior magazine journalism major and BUS President, was the resident assistant for the students’ week-long stay at Kent State.

“I like to help minority youth because they (lack) fulfilling role models,” she said.

Parker said the students’ skill levels vary, but all of them are eager to learn.

“I’ve known (that I want to work in communication) since I was little,” said Kelsey McHerron, a Lakewood High School student. “I’ve always had a love for music, so I want to pursue a career in the music industry.”

McHerron and Shelton share that musical interest. After Shelton graduated with a journalism degree from Kent State, he worked in the record industry writing press releases rather that reporting for newspapers.

Shelton said part of the appeal of the program is you can find your skill and connect it with a passion.

“In my case, I connected writing with music,” he said. “When I graduated in 1972, did I think about being a reporter? No . I could apply skills from the classroom to being a publicist.”

For more information on how to volunteer or apply for the Dow Jones Diversity Institute, contact Shelton at 672-8298 or [email protected].

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Tim Jacobs at [email protected].