We’re (proudly) training future journalists, doctors, policy experts and more
By Jayne O'Donnell
Youthcast Media Group®
Oyewumi Oyeniyi doesn’t want to be a journalist. Despite that, she’s one of Youthcast Media Group’s success stories.
She’s been published in USA TODAY and the Philadelphia public radio site, Billy Penn, and wowed attendees with her insightful questions when she covered one of our grantors’ national conferences. She’s also Philly’s new Youth Poet Laureate.
On Friday December 15, she was accepted to Harvard University through its highly competitive restrictive early action program (applicants can’t apply elsewhere, and only 7.5% were accepted through this program last year). I wrote her a glowing letter of recommendation and a longtime connection who attended Harvard for undergrad and medical school helped her prepare for the admissions interview.
All this even though she wants to be a…psychiatrist.
When some read Courtland Milloy’s column about YMG in the Washington Post last month, they thought we might be disappointed that he quoted the four high school students presenting at our fundraiser who all said they aren’t currently planning to be journalists. They seemed like “just the kind of budding reporters our nation’s troubled news business needs,” wrote Milloy.
That’s true — and we have many others who do want to be journalists. More still don’t know yet where they’ll end up, but we know they’ll use the multimedia skills in health-related journalism and social media we’ve taught them.
We also know what hasn’t changed, and what won’t change, are the basics needed to produce any story regardless of the medium. That is: solid research, thoughtful questions, critical evaluation of the evidence and clear writing.
That’s what YMG teaches.
And that’s why YMG continues to offer exceptional value, not just to students who may pursue careers in the ever-expanding field of journalism but to any student whose success in work and indeed in life will be bolstered by an ability to think critically and write clearly.
It’s still about the five Ws— who, what, where, when and why of the story. And that’s why YMG remains committed to its mission.
We encourage youth who have the passion and grit necessary to succeed as members of the fast-paced, often-pilloried press to do so. And we’re proud of all our alumni, including those who’ve elected to pursue careers in fields that are allied to or seemingly unrelated to traditional print and broadcast journalism.
After all, we are helping them break into the workforce while breaking the cycle of poverty that is the biggest social determinant of poor health they cover.
Consider Princyana Hudson. She isn’t pursuing journalism or a college degree, but oh how she’s grown.
The former high school participant turned former operations intern at YMG graduated from Richard Wright School for Journalism and Media Arts in 2020. A couple months before she graduated, Hudson was featured in this Washington Post column about how she was writing about mental health for us while struggling with her own diagnoses when a close friend was shot to death outside her window at home in Southeast DC.
Hudson, who was salutatorian of her high school class, commuted to a local college that fall but dropped out after the pressure and isolation of school and the pandemic became too much. She interned part time for us for about a year after, helping with graphic design, administrative tasks and general operations.
“Y’all helped me believe in myself,” says Hudson.
Hudson became a “relationship banker” for a major national financial institution this year after completing a rigorous year-long training program. She recently got her own apartment and, she says, “finally a fresh start.”