College Media Geek: Gabi Wy, University of Southern Indiana

While many college students spent their sophomore years figuring out what they want to do, Gabi Wy of the University of Southern Indiana has spent her second year of college pursuing her passion and deepening her knowledge of an ever-evolving media landscape.

Gabi has already participated in the Asian American Journalists Association’s VOICES program and the Discover Your Drive Diversity Journalism Program, and those experiences have encouraged her to become a multimedia journalist. Additionally, she has grown her passion for diversity in journalism.

Gabi Wy Headshot.jpg

What is your year, major and title?

I’m a sophomore journalism and criminal justice major. I’m the incoming editor-in-chief of The Shield at USI, and an intern at the Evansville Courier & Press.

You are an underclassmen and yet have already participated in two advanced journalism programs. Why did you seek those opportunities?

I never really thought twice about applying for those opportunities the second I heard about them. At times, when you’re just attending classes at your school and taking local opportunities, you feel a little stuck. I’m a dreamer and envision myself traveling the world. These opportunities seemed like the perfect blend of getting valuable experience and also satisfying a little bit of my thirst for adventure. From both experiences, I’ve been blessed to meet professional journalists who are willing to vouch for me when I apply for other opportunities, and that’s priceless. I’ve made amazing connections I couldn’t have made otherwise.

What is your biggest takeaway from the AAJA VOICES program?

VOICES gave me the confidence I needed to cover really important stories. I’m fascinated by criminal justice, but until that point, I hadn’t covered much beyond the crime that happens on our campus. One of my projects for VOICES was a story about the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and their progress with body-worn cameras. To be honest, I got really scared for a second, because that was the first time I really felt like I was covering something that reached beyond our campus. With the help of my mentor, I was able to build up the confidence to write about a police department across the country from my hometown and talk to key figures about a pretty important issue today. As only a freshman, I had felt I didn’t have the capacity to be covering things like that. With VOICES help, I proved myself wrong.

Also, I interviewed a guy who was wearing nothing but a diaper, bib and bonnet for a video of Fremont Street performers. He calls himself the Lost Baby in Las Vegas. That’s something I’ll never forget.

What was your greatest learning experience from the Discover Your Drive Diversity Journalism Program?

Discover Your Drive was all about teamwork. With the help of some pretty awesome students and mentors, I helped produce a video on the top technologies that came out of the North American International Auto Show. I found myself focusing on things I don’t necessarily always gravitate towards, like photography and video editing. It pushed me out of my comfort zone (especially since I am the farthest thing from a car fanatic) and taught me to adapt. We were all really, really pleased with the result, which was published in Inc. Magazine.

Why do you think it’s so important for college journalists to be learning about diversity?

It’s crucial for college journalists and really just plain journalists to learn about diversity, simply because there is such a lack of it in our profession. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to be the only minority in your newsroom. There needs to be active effort to increase the range of viewpoints you have at news sources. Through these two very diversity-focused programs I’ve been in, I’ve realized how valuable it is to have individuals from so many different backgrounds working together on projects. Without diversity in newsrooms, critical stories about the American demographic could be missed simply because there isn’t anyone with the eye to catch it.

What advice would you give a student who is trying to get involved in programs like you have?

Apply for as many of these opportunities as you can. AAJA Voices, despite being the Asian American Journalists Association, is not confined to just Asian Americans or minorities. Most of these diversity programs (if not all of them) welcome any demographic who applies. It never hurts you to send in an application, and I wouldn’t trade the skills I’ve learned from them and the connections I’ve made for the world.

Also, don’t think that just because you’re an underclassman or haven’t had much professional experience they won’t pick you. My only experience when I applied for VOICES was at my school newspaper and school radio station.

What is your career goal?

I started out college thinking I was set on being a reporter either on the cops or courts sort of beat, but I think my tastes have expanded. I think now I’d like to be a versatile, multimedia reporter at a newspaper/news source covering lots of different things throughout my career. I picked journalism because it’s a career in which you never stop learning, and there’s always new things around every corner. With the competitive nature of the field, I probably need to be open to trying a lot of different things.

Dan Reimold, the founder of CMM, loved to ask people to write their memoirs in six words. What would yours be?

“She wrote because there was hope.”

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