NATAS Lower Great Lakes Chapter Collegiate Scholarship
This year, the NATAS Lower Great Lakes chapter awarded two $2000 high school scholarships and one $2500 college scholarship.
The high school scholarships are awarded to two current high school seniors who plan to attend a four-year college and pursue a career in the television industry and are available for high school students attending a school anywhere in the membership area of our organization which includes Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Bowling Green, Toledo, Lima and Mansfield, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Lafayette, and Muncie, Indiana.
The college scholarship is offered to students who attend a college in our region and will be a college junior or senior in the next academic year and who intend to pursue a career in television or television related field. The membership area of our organization includes Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Bowling Green, Toledo, Lima and Mansfield, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Lafayette, and Muncie, Indiana.
We are pleased to announce the three winners for this year:
2017 Lower Great Lakes Scholarship Winners
Barack Obama once said, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.” During the darkest moment of my life, I knew I had to change thoughts of hopelessness into action. I utilized media in-a variety of forms-to create a culture of inclusion and acceptance nationally (https://youtu.be/f9hEzK53t4M).
During my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I was bullied to the point I didn’t want to go to school, get out of bed, or even live anymore. After months of reflection, I determined I could use my experiences to help others. I realized there were certain activities I engaged in that helped me overcome bullying. I developed a strategy called “TBH” that outlined these activities: Talk to someone, Block hurtful words from your head and your heart, Help others.
I shared “TBH” with classrooms and organizations. I wrote grants and received funding to produce and distribute “TBH” brochures in all Erie County middle schools (http://simplebooklet.com/tbh). I presented at state bullying conventions and appeared on the television network TLC. I was asked to help produce and record an anti-bullying theme song with Platinum Planet Records (https://soundcloud.com/user-352331332/tbh-theme-track-mix-burke-vox-1/s-mlUia).
I emailed the Hillary Clinton campaign and shared my strategy. I wanted to make the campaign aware of this growing issue amongst children. I received a phone call from Hillary Clinton’s staff asking me to meet with the presidential hopeful! I met with Hillary Clinton and, together, we recorded an anti-bullying video for YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLzZEueIa-8). In the September edition of Teen Vogue, Hillary Clinton penned an essay titled “Yes, She Can” discussing the biggest girl-power movement in American history. She opens her essay with my story (http://www.teenvogue.com/story/hillary-clinton-essay-on-why-our-generation-is-whats-right-with-america).
While I continue to help youth who have been bullied, I recently undertook a proactive effort to stop bullying before it starts by creating “Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day”. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for: Social Media Awareness, Respect and Timing. This day reminds parents to be a guiding force in their child’s social media use.
The Erie County, Ohio Commissioners have proclaimed October 6th as “Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day” in Erie County. I am working with Ohio Senator Randy Gardner, U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur and Director of Ohio Family & Children’s First Council, Chad Hibbs, to receive legislative support for a statewide “Be a S.M.A.R.T. Parent Day”. With the help of Hillary Clinton’s policy team, my goal is to make this a nationally-recognized day (http://www.britainbennett.org/be-a-s-m-a-r-t-parent-day).
Paul Mitchell Company recently announced the launch of its teen-geared line of hair products Neon. In keeping with the brand’s mission of giving back, the Neon campaign is focused on anti-bullying (a highly relevant and personal cause for Neon’s target demographic of 15-20 year-olds). I have been appointed as Paul Mitchell’s national spokesperson for Neon’s anti-bullying campaign. I was the guest speaker at the New York City Neon Launch Party. Throughout 2017, I will be featured on Paul Mitchell Company’s social media promoting anti-bullying.
I have directly impacted over 3,000 children in my community and a countless number nationwide. As stated above, I have utilized media to create a culture of inclusion and acceptance nationally. At a time when our country is divided and our inclusivity is in question, media plays a crucial role in unifying those of diversified backgrounds. In 10 years, I plan to be a reporter for CNN. Robin Meade, of HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” is my role model and I have discussed my college goals with the news anchor. Someday, you will watch “Breakfast with Britain”, a morning news program sharing the most positive stories from around the world to reinforce a message of inclusion and acceptance.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have had an interest in sports and in sports communication. I always would find myself commentating my video games as a child. And to be honest, I still do today. I find it to be a great way for me to practice my play-by-play skills. I was approached by one of my mom’s friends when I was in eighth grade about an opening for the play-by-play job for my high school, Homestead. I contacted the teacher, Mr. Schenkel, and he gave me the job as the play-by-play varsity football commentator. I was the first freshman to ever broadcast Homestead sports. After being given that opportunity, I ran with it. I got involved everywhere I could. I became Homestead’s first “Voice of the Lady Spartans,” doing the play-by-play job for our girls’ varsity basketball team my freshman year. I won third place in our state radio competition, the Indiana Association of Student Broadcasters (IASB) awards with a 5-minute clip from one of my broadcasts that year. I continue to broadcast girls’ basketball as a senior and am looking forward to an exciting postseason. I was the color commentator/side line reporter as a freshman for Homestead’s boys’ basketball team and worked under my friend, Cory Stace, who was the play-by-play broadcaster. Cory is now attending Ball State University and is heavily involved in their communications program. After Cory graduated, the play-by-play job was mine. I was fortunate enough to broadcast the 2015 state championship. Our boys’ team came back from ten points down with under four minutes to go and won in overtime. Overall, in the four years that I have been broadcasting Homestead sports, I have done 44 football games, 71 girls’ basketball games, 83 boys’ basketball games, and 3 baseball games. I have called 10 sectional championships, five regional championships, two state appearances, and a state championship. I hope to add to these numbers as both our boys’ and girls’ basketball teams head into the postseason. I cannot believe how fortunate I have been to be able to broadcast games at Homestead at a time when their sports teams thrived and became some of the winningest sports teams in school history.
I will be attending Indiana University next year to pursue a degree in Sports Media. Indiana just renovated their media school and I cannot wait to get involved right away. In ten years, I hope to be making a name for myself and getting into more prominent roles in the broadcasting field. I expect to start small out of college; possibly somewhere where I will be a local sports anchor on a news station. However, in ten years, when I am about five or six years removed from my college days at Indiana University, I hope to be involved with the bigger companies such as Fox, CBS, NBC Sports, Big Ten Network, or even ESPN. I know that it will take time to really establish myself in the field, but I like to think and dream big. I always strive to be the best that I can be. I have had a strong work-ethic throughout high school when it comes to my job as the play-by-play broadcaster of Homestead sports, and I don’t expect that to ever change. I am excited to see what the future has in store for me and to embrace all the opportunities I could be presented as a sports commentator.
As a lifelong fanatical sports fan, I grew up reading the sports page of the newspaper every morning and watching sports programming on television every night. Once I learned that people could make a living watching and analyzing sports, I knew that I wanted to work in the sports media field when I grew up.
My other passion has always been storytelling. Whether it be as simple as telling my friends around the lunchtable what happened at recess, or as complex as telling a feature story on one of Ball State’s athletes, I loved the ability to captivate, inform, and entertain people through stories.
I don’t know where I will be in ten years, because the sports media industry is changing so rapidly and so significantly right now. With the rise of internet streaming, the decline of cable subscriptions, and the emergence of social media dominating the landscape, the rules of how to be successful are being rewritten right in front of me.
I do have role models that I look up to in the field. I enjoy the reporting of a Tom Rinaldi, the persona and vision of Bill Simmons, and the creativity of Martin Khodabashkian. Outside of sports I am a huge fan of the film industry, where I learn cinematic and storytelling techniques from watching directors such as Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu or Damien Chazelle. But I think it would be foolish to pencil myself into the exact roles that these people have created for themselves.
Instead, I think I have equipped myself with a very diverse set of skills, whether it be audio/video shooting and editing, on-air reporting, writing, or social media marketing. With those tools combined with a strong passion for sports and storytelling, I feel ready for whatever the sports media field is becoming. In my limited exposure to professional industry, it seems that companies value whatever skills one possesses that can move the needle and get eyeballs on their platform. “Roles” within a company are less and less defined. With this in mind I think I have the capability to tell great stories and give great analysis in a variety of ways that people will respond to.
I enjoy the precision of writing, where you can define exactly what you’re thinking and convey that to the audience. I also enjoy the authenticity of talk shows such as podcasts, where you can have conversations and debate in a way that seems genuine and not too polished. Being on-air is a dream of mine, to be able to inform and entertain. And finally the beauty and engaging nature of video storytelling is compelling because of the connection the audience feels with the subject. I could see myself working and really enjoying any or all of these fields within sports media.
Whatever I do, I feel like I have a chance to be successful because of my strong work ethic. I know that I have a long ways to go and I am focused on improving each and every day!