Home / News and Events / News / High School Students Experience College and Journalism at Cronkite’s Summer Journalism Institute

High School Students Experience College and Journalism at Cronkite’s Summer Journalism Institute

June 5, 2019

Jalen Woody, a student at St. Michael Indian School in Window Rock, Arizona, learns how to shoot video and record audio in the field during the first week of SJI. (Photo by Kynan Marlin/Cronkite School)

Top high school students are spending the next two weeks at Arizona State University practicing multimedia journalism and experiencing what it’s like to be a college student.

The students are part of the Summer Journalism Institute at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Most come from high schools throughout Arizona, while others are from California, Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Native American reservations in the Southwest.

The students live in a residence hall on the downtown Phoenix campus and attend sessions led by Cronkite faculty and local journalists on topics such as reporting, writing, ethics, social media and video production. They also visit the newsrooms of several news organizations and meet and talk with practicing journalists.

At the end of the two-week camp, students will have produced a news website and a student newscast showcasing their work.

Participants receive full scholarships to cover housing, meals and training, thanks to support from the Arizona Broadcasters Association, RIESTER advertising agency and several alumni, board members and friends of the school.

SJI is directed by Anita Luera, former president of the Arizona Latino Media Association, who now heads Cronkite’s high school outreach efforts. Other instructors include Cronkite Professor of Practice Fernanda Santos, the former Phoenix bureau chief for The New York Times; Craig Allen, Cronkite associate professor; adjunct faculty members Joseph Camporeale and Celeste Sepessy; and ABC15 multimedia journalist and Cronkite graduate Megan Thompson.


Megan Thompson, an ABC15 journalist, SJI camp coach and Cronkite alumna, leads a workshop on shooting videos with HD cameras. (Photo by Kynan Marlin/Cronkite School)

“The next two weeks will help these students see themselves in an entirely new light – as successful college students and journalists,” said Luera, who noted another benefit of the program: “They come in as strangers and leave as friends for life,” she said.

Paulina Verbera, a Cronkite graduate student and SJI camp counselor, was a program participant in 2015 while a senior in high school. She said the camp eased her transition to college.

“For two weeks that summer, I was able to get a taste of the wide array of options at Cronkite,” Verbera said. “I was more familiar with the different programs at school and had a better idea of what I wanted to try when I got here.”

Another SJI alumna, Yvonne Bustamante, who now works in production at ABC15 in Phoenix, said she had no exposure to journalism before attending the Cronkite summer camp because her high school didn’t offer journalism courses.

“I was completely new, so meeting all these people who had the same goals as me was fantastic,” she said. “I eventually discovered that I wanted to work behind the camera in production … and I got hired at ABC15 after college.”

The Cronkite School is hosting several other programs this summer, including two sports camps, the Scripps Howard Journalism Entrepreneurship Institute for journalism educators interested in introducing entrepreneurial concepts into their courses, and a program for international scholars and professionals on the topics of journalism, technology and democracy.

2019 Summer Journalism Institute Participants:

  • Joselyn Alvarez, Glendale High School, Glendale, Arizona
  • Mia Andrea, Westwood High School, Mesa, Arizona
  • Sarah Baker, Clayton High School, St. Louis, Missouri
  • DeAsiah Ball, La Joya Community High School, Tolleson, Arizona
  • Judah Brody, Dos Pueblos High School, Goleta, California
  • Isabella Castilblanco, Salpointe Catholic High School, Tucson, Arizona
  • Fernando Cervantes, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Dallas, Texas
  • Andrew Coan, Westlake Academy, Keller, Texas
  • Lydia Curry, Mission Viejo High School, Mission Viejo, California
  • Olivia Diem, South Elgin High School, Elgin, Illinois
  • Cassandra Duarte, James C. Enochs High School, Modesto, California
  • Gabriel Estes, Arizona Agribusiness Equine Center (AAEC) Estrella Mountain Campus, Goodyear, Arizona
  • Morgan Fischer, Dominion High School, Sterling, Virginia
  • Alexis Garibay, Ironwood High School, Glendale, Arizona
  • Isabel Gonzalez, Millennium High School, Goodyear, Arizona
  • Isabella Gordon, Independence High School, Spring Hill, Tennessee
  • Grace Hardy, Washington High School, Phoenix
  • Emma Kogan, Horizon High School, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Shreya Kosuru, BASIS Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Aubrey Pettitt, Ironwood Ridge High School, Oro Valley, Arizona
  • Justin Rombough, Hamilton High School, Chandler, Arizona
  • Cameron Salas, Lake Havasu High School, Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Marisa Serrano, Cesar Chavez High School, Laveen, Arizona
  • Desiree Smith, Hiroshi Miyamura High School, Church Rock, New Mexico
  • Daisy Tanner, Greenway High School, Phoenix
  • Esmeralda Valenzuela, Cesar Chavez High School, Phoenix
  • Jalen Woody, St. Michael Indian School, Window Rock, Arizona
  • Lauren Zaragoza, Kofa High School, Somerton, Arizona