My First: Summer 2017

During the summer of 2017, I experienced many firsts in my life. Some of which taught me so much about myself and will forever leave an impact.

1. I flew for the first time and alone to DC, where I had a life changing week at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference.

2. I went to two Arkansas State Parks with my family; Toltec Mounds and Petit Jean.

3. I experienced my first injury, a fractured patella.

4. My family and I successfully escaped a room with 13:49 minutes to spare.

5. I grew a mother scoby, and started the fermentation process to make kombucha.

6. I learned how to Stand Up Paddle Board.

7. My family harvested many different veggies and herbs in a hydroponics garden.

8. Lastly, I had many firsts in my veganism journey: making “cheese” dip, pickles, smokey tofu, and many new desserts.

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What I Ate In DC For WJMC (vegan)

As a vegan in DC for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, there were many meals where I didn’t know what to expect.

I knew before leaving for DC that I couldn’t rely on what the conference had to provide. I’ve been vegan for two years, and know better than to expect someone who isn’t used to cooking vegan know how to make a proper vegan meal. Especially walking into Southside, I knew to grab bananas and hope for the best.

Veganism is a touchy subject in restaurants, and most chefs don’t understand what exactly it is. So they just roast veggies and call it a day. Which isn’t what I would voluntarily eat on a normal day.

Day One

Dinner at Johnson Center


Day Two

Breakfast at Southside, Lunch at Newseum, and Dinner at Gordon Biersch


Day Three

Breakfast at Southside, Lunch at Buca De Beppo, and Dinner at Soutside


Day Four

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner at Southside


Day Five

I brought Breakfast, Lunch UberEats Fare Well, and Dinner at Westfields Marriott


There is no access to a fridge or microwave, so any food brought needs to be non-perishable. Therefore, I brought shelve stable Protein Shakes, Cliff Bars, Cookies, Pretzels and more to snack on through the day and at night. It became a running joke that at every meal, I would grab two bananas. Which came in handy because I would share them.

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WJMC Day Six

July 14, 2017, 7:12AM

We got up early just to have our last breakfast together as the 2017 Session 1 Pink Group. Even though some slept in and missed the party, we had a blast laughing together one last time.


My Thank Yous

To Melissa. You will always be my WJMC Mom. Thank you for being open to learning teenager slang, making me play those stupid team building games, talking to me about your daughters and keeping the group in check.

You taught me how to have a good time working.

To Nathan. From the minute I met you, I was a teary eyed mess with no luggage, but you handled me just like a mom would that day and all week. I applaud and thank you for that. You’re one of the best things that came out of this week. I will never forget you and the bond we made.  

From you messing with me everyday like the older brother I never had to dodging all my selfie attempts by using the pesky pink flag.  Also our night talks about who knows what while walking back to the dorm to the bus fist bumps that I dodged but had grown to love. You making sure I had my vegan meal to taking some of the most terrible photos of me and sending them to the gc to wheeling me around and making me laugh the whole ride to trying to make us all go to Mason. I was always having fun.

You taught me to say tarantula without showing my teeth and how to wave a pink flag. 

To Kennedy, Bryson, Pierce and Erick. We some how clicked on Day Two and were inseparable. Whether it be cracking jokes, laughing, toasting each other in the gc, messing around at meals, playing iMessage games, eating bananas or blowing up the gc during speakers. We were having fun either way. I will forever cherish the mems. 

Thanks for giving me Valet Parking.

To everyone else in pink. Thank you for listening to me when I talked about veganism, putting up with me complaining about food, having color group meeting where I would stare in confusion, dancing around me at the gala and for making me feel so loved after six days. I’m amazed that we grew so much in a short time period. After all this, we somehow never got a chant. 

To Elena, Ali, Rachel, Selina, Michael and everyone else on the A Team. You guys rock!!! You got my luggage to me, came to the rescue when I dislocated my knee, kept everyone safe and so much more that some will never understand. I honestly don’t know what I would have done with out this dream team at WJMC. 

To Future Correspondents

Be prepared for three, maybe four hours of sleep each nigh.

Bring comfy shoes, no one cares. I wore my heels for pictures, and switched into Birks.

Be prepared to eat cafeteria food and bring lots of snacks. Read about what I ate vegan HERE.

Bring a water bottle, and fill it up every chance you get.

Bring a pillow, blanket, and fitted sheet. They provide some, but trust me bring your own.

Connect with you FA and JFA. Talk to them on the walks back to the dorms, on the bus, at meals, really any chance you get build a solid relationship.

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Full Photo Album

WJMC Day Five

July 13, 2017 9:22AM

We started the day off by going to the Capitol to pictures. From there we got to explore inside the National Mall boundaries all afternoon.

I went to the National Gallery of Art with some people from lime. We went thru all the exhibits of the east building. Then, we explored the streets of DC till time to load the buses.


Then it was time for the highly anticipated gala. I was having a good time singing, dancing, and talking with everyone.

Until I dislocated my knee cap one hour in. I hopped to a chair and notifed the A Team. Selina and Rachel came to the rescue to calm me down, and doctor me up. They got me situated on a couch with an ice pack and elevated my leg with pillows.

To lighten the mood, everyone in my group circled around me to sing and dance, because I was incapable. It was one of the most heart warming things I have ever experienced. Although I missed the infamous last song, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, I was glad to get back to my room to sleep. I get carried by three of my group members to the bus, which was our last ride ever. And the last fist bump.

Full Photo Album
Big thanks to Nathan, Selina, and Rachel for getting me water, ice packs, a wheelchair, and checking on me.

WJMC Day Four

July 12, 2017 8:24AM

At my color group meeting, we started off with team building. First we played human knot, yes I am climbing over everyone’s arms, and we lost. Then we played ships and sailors, and I lost.


Nicole Livas, President of Nicole Livas Media, gave us tips on how to survive in journalism, as well as expanding your network.

“Know how to digest facts, and make them compelling stories”
“Don’t let people tell you journalism is dead, but it is not easy”


Kennedy, Pierce, and I bonding over stocking up on bananas for snacks after lunch.


I got to introduce, Alex Rosenwald, Director of PR for MediaDC. He talked about how social media affects how he does his job, how to build a clientele, and push past boundries.

“Resumes are your story, so take time to make them perfect”
“You can’t buy contacts and relationships”


Megan ATB Reese, free lance photographer and producer, whose resume includes working for Animal Planet, Travel Channel, National Geographic, and many more. She told us to take a chance at every event even if you think the email or call will get turned down.

“Everybody has a price, you just have to know how much your worth”


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Full Photo Album

WJMC Day Three

July 11, 2017 9:37AM

Rene Marsh, Aviation Correspondent for CNN, and Michelle Marsh, Anchor for ABC channel 7, talked to us about how to gain respect and make an impression as a female in the journalism industry. As well as taking care of yourself, in an industry that is so fast paced.

“You get respect when people think you know what you’re talking about”


David Culver, Reporter for NBC4, stressed about how building relationships is important to finding and covering compelling stories. He has been to Cuba 5 times to report on major events, and is allowed a visa to access these situations because he has a relationship with the Cuba Government.

“You have to have ambition and drive”



April Ryan, White House Correspondent, noted that journalism is a tough job to have, especially in The White House. Due to reporters being the enemy and getting attacked.

“By suppressing the press, the public doesn’t know what is going on”
“It is not what they call you, but what you answer to”


Kevin McCarthy, Entertainment Critic for Fox News, told us to ask questions even if you think the answer is no, which is exactly how he got into the industry. He has interviewed A-List actors and directors now for years all because he took a chance and asked a question.

“Do what you love and the money will follow”

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Full Photo Album

WJMC Day Two

July 10, 2017 8:24AM

Firstly, we went to the Newseum. My favorite exhibits were; the 9/11, wall of journalist who have passed, Berlin Wall, and Pulitzer Prize Photo Gallery.


Ron Meyer, Editor of Red Alert Politics, as a politician he had a great balance of talking politics and about issues millennials are interested in. He talked to us about being genuine and credible in journalism, as well as creating/developing your brand at a young age.

“Fit your brand to what is marketable and consumable”


We had a night of monumental site seeing planned; first we stopped at The White House. It was extremely hot, and all of us were smiling through it.

Then we walked over to the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.


When we arrived back at GMU, my luggage had arrived!!!

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Full Photo Album
big thanks to Elena, Ali, and Nathan for dealing with this luggage nightmare while running a conference!

WJMC Day One

July 9, 2017; 8:27AM

Three airports and two flights later, I arrive at Dulles, only to find out that my luggage was still in Arkansas. I filed a delayed baggage claim, and 2 hours later was notified that it was on the next plane to Dulles.


I met my FA and JFA, Melissa and Nathan. Then all of us in pink group, went to our small group room and started to learn about eachother.


My bag landed at the airport, and we had to figure out the logistics of getting it to GMU Campus. While that is happening, we went into our first small group, and attempted to learn every ones’ name.


Sonya Gavankar was the keynote speaker, and I was in awe of her, to say the least. She stayed relevant and added jokes, while telling us straight up truths about the journalism industry.

“When you start making small mistakes in your job, you know you have stretched yourself too thin”



My group spent the next 2 hours team building, creating our own elevator pitches, and talking about personal and professional image.


Many calls later, and my luggage was still not on campus.

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Full Photo Album
big thanks to Elena, Ali, and Nathan for dealing with this luggage nightmare all day and trying to make me less stressed as possible.

SUP Outfitters

Stand Up Paddle Boarding; A Relaxing Sport for just about everyone.

I drove 4 hours expecting to have a fun day, and that’s what I got. The first few minutes on the board where quite scary, and all about learning how to stand up/paddle correctly. Once we got the hang of the motions we were off to the waterfalls.

The scenery was something you couldn’t see from just being on land. So beautiful and relaxing.

The owner, Melody, was so nice and down to earth. She taught us about safety on the boards, and how to act when boats are passing by.


She was totally open to me filming the day, even had the attatchments that allowed the GoPro to screw into the board. So, I made a little video!

And Megan Graddy, from 5 news, came on the adventure with us. Here is her video/article!

If you live in the Eureka Springs area, or even Arkansas, I highly advise you to try Stand Up Paddle Boarding with SUP Outfitters. Be prepared to use your core and biceps more than you think.

Petit Jean State Park

Blueberries, Empty Water Bottles and a 5 Hour Hike

My family and a few friends decided we wanted to hike to Petit Jean’s Waterfall, we did it, and took a 2 hour detour and the way back.

When we get to this bridge, we can go right 1/2 mile for the Waterfall or left 1 mile for the Blue Hole.


We went to the right, along the way we hiked beside and thru the water that comes out of the fall. It had just rained the day before, so the water was gushing over hard and fast, misting us all. The pictures don’t even do the size justice.

We spend a hour at the waterfall; taking pictures, enjoying the view, snacking and resting. When it was time to go we packed everything up and started the hike back. On the way, we discussed and made the decisions to go the 1 mile down to the Blue Hole.

The trail was mostly flat and easy, we saw a snake, and ran out of water. but when we got to the “hole” it was overflowing due to the rain and we couldn’t see or cross the rocks.

Very underwhelming experience for a 2 mile round trip detour. On the walk back all I had left was my bag of blueberries, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed blueberries more than in that moment, when I had no water.

Next time I go hiking, I will bring more snacks and even more water.

full photo album HERE

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