YMG alums find success in their careers, change their communities
Antonio Hardy’s company, ACW (A Conversation Worldwide), amplifies artists and their stories of accomplishments and struggles with mental health and other challenges through events and programming from its base in LA - an idea that sprang from his work with us dating to our 2017 launch.
Anthony Vidal of Miami, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis, plans to double major in environmental science and mathematics, spurred by an introduction to climate change and health in an early ‘22 reporting workshop that led to his publication in the Miami Herald.
And West Chester (Penn.) University junior and psychology major Aliyah Vines says her work with us gave her the confidence to pursue her dream of creating a space where Black people can feel comfortable talking about mental health.
These young people and others you’ll hear from and about below, are from different parts of DC and the country but share experience with Youthcast Media Group (formerly known as Urban Health Media Project) that in big and small ways changed the course of their lives. Not only did they learn skills and health-related subjects, they are doing things that are measurably different because of YMG.
After four (!) decades in journalism, I know well the power of the personal story. My July 6, 1996 USA TODAY front page story showed rows of children’s smiling faces before “deadly air bags” ended their lives. That article and our others that followed led to the safer air bags and warning labels now in every new car. Here at YMG, we have a lot of good news to tell you about our next generation of changemakers. But I acknowledge we haven’t told students’ stories enough to make the case for YMG - as college preparers, career trainers, voice uplifters and, yes, donation recipients.
Here’s a closer look at some of our success stories:
Vidal worked on the school newspaper at Miami Lakes Educational Center while in high school, but says he got a much better feel for the field of journalism and the importance of data science and environmental policy, during his work with us. He plans to pursue one of the options for student journalism at Wash U, where he got a full ride, after he gets a little more adjusted to college life.
“I was able to experience journalism in a more realistic and professional way than I had before and I was able to get the best glimpse I have had so far at real journalism. It was also rewarding and exciting to see my name printed in the Miami Herald for the first time. The workshop experience also allowed me to learn a whole lot more in terms of journalism techniques, and overall issues that affect communities throughout. It made me a better journalist but also a better citizen.”
Hometown: Washington, DC
Hardy, who founded “A Conversation Worldwide” in July 2022, has worked as a freelance creative consultant for influencers and businesses including Nike, NPR…and YMG. He and partner Tesheara Nelson have held 11 sold-out ACW Fusion events in the last nine months and are starting to offer training by creative experts at the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM).
His work as a student participant and then intern with us between 2017 and 2021, “really taught me how to communicate with other people, how to appreciate their stories and, first and foremost their perspectives. I’m eternally grateful for the experience because I feel like out of everything in my life, that has really really shaped me to be the person I am today and it’s helped the thing (ACW) I’m so happy to have grown.”
Hometown: Baltimore County, MD
Burnett, who was in our 2017 inaugural cohort, is a senior journalism major at University of Maryland’s Honors College who spent the spring semester of her junior year as an intern at The Today Show. She spent the last four summers interning with WBAL-TV as an Emma Bowen Foundation fellow and credits her work with YMG (formerly known as UHMP) with helping her compete against much older students to earn the prestigious fellowship.
Along with knowing what “B-roll” (secondary footage that adds context to a story), wide and medium shots were, Burnett says she had already been published in USA TODAY.
“That's very impressive for a senior in high school to have,” said Burnett, who is the featured speaker at YMG’s Fall Student Expo and Fundraiser in McLean, Va. on Nov. 15.
Hometown: Washington, DC
Vines, who did a video documentary on autism in children and teens during a summer 2018 workshop, also contributed to a USA TODAY story I did on patient safety. Now she hopes to be a psychologist.
“I now have confidence to do something about the stigmatization of mental health in my community. In my community, mental health is seen as a weakness and something to be frowned upon. I want to break that barrier. This program has really helped me take those steps and be more confident in launching my career.”
Hometown: Washington, DC
Duncan, a 2021 graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School, participated in our fall 2020 workshop, which involved profiling people who survived and were thriving despite earlier trauma. She profiled a trans female sex worker and advocate and followed it with a freelance story on a survivor of childhood sex abuse that involved interviewing local and national experts and community leaders.
She is now a sophomore at North Carolina A&T studying computer science while working to launch a clothing brand called So Far Gone. Duncan says her YMG experience “helped me to become a better communicator…I learned the importance of reaching out to and speaking with diverse groups of people” and plans to continue to use the skills she gained in her work and schooling.
Hometown: Elkridge, MD
Wilmore who, like Hardy and Burnett, was part of our inaugural cohort in 2017, co-authored a story with me for USA TODAY on accountable care organizations (ACOs) and did an article and video on the downsides of “sneaker culture,” a fascinating cultural and sociological look at the financial and personal safety risks of young people’s obsessions with the latest brand and style of pricey sneakers. She interned and did freelance photography and social media for YMG during her years at Syracuse University and is now a digital engagement and event specialist for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy (OACCE).
“I’m excited to continue growing as a communicator and visual artist through my work with OACCE!,” said Wilmore. “I’m grateful to YMG for helping me foster my interest in communication and digital media. Now that I have graduated, I can’t wait to see what else this field has to offer!”
Hudson, who also attended Miami Lakes Educational Center, a magnet school, was part of our 2020 trauma reporting workshop. Now, he’s working for the student newspaper, TSL (The Student Life) at Pomona University, wherehe’s attending tuition free thanks to a Posse scholarship. He was part of Stanford Law School’s pre-law pipeline program over the summer.
An Africana Studies major with a philosophy minor, Hudson says that during his work as a DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) staff writer on the oldest college newspaper in Southern California, he often thinks back to our lessons on how to “craft stories” and to let interviewees speak for the topic of the article.