HOUSTON – The Houston Association of Black Journalists held its annual Student Mentorship Breakfast on Dec. 7 to a packed house of speakers and students awaiting media-related words of wisdom.
More than a dozen panelists participated in a series of sessions aimed at empowering the next wave of aspiring young journalists and public relations professionals. Groups of students from Prairie View A & M University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University and even one George Ranch High School student, Princess Sinkambe, lined up to shake the hands of media leaders and ask for advice.
Sessions included From the Classroom to the Newsroom: Skills You Need to Succeed Today and Beyond; Life Outside the Newsroom: Transitioning from Newsroom Life to Other Communications Careers; From the Veterans: Shifting and Shaping a Long-Term Career in Media; and Making the Most Out of Your Internships.
Esteemed panelists for the morning included Audrey Gilbreath, CEO of Gilbreath Communications; Lisa Ashley, media relations director for Port of Houston; Isidro Reyna, senior communications specialist for NASA; Kathy Sapp, executive producer of Judge Faith Show, Mary Benton, press secretary for Mayor Sylvester Turner; Meshach Sullivan, Houston Astros communications coordinator; and Shelley Wade, pop culture and entertainment expert known for her distinguished voice when she was one of Houston’s leading radio personalities.
“It was extremely exciting to see the amazing turnout of Black and Brown students from various colleges and universities, and the esteemed media professionals who dropped what they were doing on a Saturday morning to come and pour into the younger generation,” said Nakia Cooper, HABJ president. “My favorite panel was the one focusing on ‘Life outside the newsroom,’ because it shows the students that, even if they feel that newsroom life is not for them, they have so many more avenues in which they could put those journalism and communication degrees to good use – and in many cases, for more money in starting salaries.”
Students also sang praises of the event.
PVAMU student, Tori Summers, said she now understands the importance of being prepared for the industry.
“I attend and HBCU,” Summers said. “My university is preparing us with the truth: This is the color of your skin. You’re not socially acceptable in these parts. There’s going to be some things that they are not going to like about you, but I’m being prepared to maneuver through it”
The goal of HABJ is to encourage, uplift and motivate minority students chasing their dreams in the fields of media and communications. The organization, which has a new board, has been running full speed ahead on hosting valuable workshops and mixers to increase awareness and support, and raise money for the scholarship program.
To join, visit www.habj.org.