It was hard for Mercer Island High School Freshman Yahnnica Tate to contain her excitement Saturday.
"This was amazing," she says, "I learned so much today."
Yahnnica was among about 90 students walking the halls of the African American Academy on a day and at a time when most young people are usually hitting the snooze button on their alarm clocks.
These students were up and to the school by 8:30 a.m. for a free workshop for high school and college students interested in a career in journalism.
The Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) spent nine months putting this workshop together so students would be informed about scholarship opportunities, mentoring programs and internships.
At the workshop, students attended different breakout sessions facilitated by various media professionals in radio, television, newspaper and on-line media.
The entire day was filled with learning opportunities for students even when technical difficulties delayed a video, clever improvisation by King 5 TV Anchor Joyce Taylor showed students what on-the-spot reporting can be like.
Students were captivated as Essex Porter showed video clips of his coverage of the February 2001 Nisqually earthquake and the Columbia shuttle disaster.
"Being a journalist sounds like a lot more fun than I thought it would be," says Mt. Tahoma Senior C.J. Rhone.
Seattle Times Columnist Jerry Large explained to students that you don't have to be loud and aggressive to be a journalist.
"I am a shy person," he said. "But I put on my journalist hat and I won't let the shyness get in the way."
In all there were 15 different sessions all led by veteran journalist from photographers to producers. Each class session was designed so students could ask questions and network.
C.J. said he initially decided to attend the workshop to explore what journalism could offer him, and what was required to be a journalist.
"I learned the most from the Internship session, from what it's like to be an intern and what you have to do."
University of Washington Senior Mwende Hahesy shared CJ's feelings.
"I will be graduating soon and I really need to start exploring career opportunities. The interning session showed me how to get my foot in the door."
The highlight of the day for Yahnnica was keynote speaker Sheila Brooks.
"Sheila Brooks really inspired me when she talked about how she sleeps, eats and breathes journalism because I really do and that influenced me a lot more," she said.
Brooks is an award-winning journalist with 29 years of experience in the field. It was standing room only as she spoke to the youth about her growth in journalism from writing for her high school paper, volunteering for her first internship, sending out 50 resumes to find a job, to founding her own production company.
"These kind of opportunities like this workshop did not exist when I was a student," said Brooks. "It is crucial that these students have this opportunity because they need to develop relationships and get to know mentors that can help them throughout their career in journalism."
At the end of the workshop, students were able to ask questions and network with professionals to discuss careers in media. They also had the opportunity to have their own work reviewed by journalists such as Kevin Henry, freelance journalist; Deborah Horne, reporter KIRO-TV; Gary Washburn, sports reporter, Seattle Post-Intelligencer; and Lisa Youngblood Hall, segment producer KING 5 TV and president of the SABJ.