WJMC BLOG 1: The beginning of an adventure

Today was the first day of a week full of learning and growing. I was chosen to be a National Youth Correspondent to George Mason University’s Washington Journalism and Media Conference. I am one of 280 from the nation, and a select few from Illinois.

We left our hotel in Maryland at about 11 and drove an hour to GMU. I got checked in, received my badge, and brought my things up to my room to unpack. I got super lucky-I’m in a single! I then went down to the Hub to meet my FA Chrissy and my JFA Amanda. They were both super kind and welcoming 😊

At this point I had about 3 hours to kill yet until campus tours, so I hung out in the hub and played games and talked to other correspondents. I was the farthest away from anyone I had met, until I met a girl that was from Alaska-dang! I met Katie who was my partner for a gift exchange which we had created through a GroupMe chat. She’s from South Carolina and got me this super cute Simply Southern shirt with a pineapple on the back!

Campus tours left at 3:30, so I decided that I might as well go on one. I ended up really liking it! The buildings were all very modern and had lots of space everywhere as well. Our tour guide also said that they have a great study abroad program at GMU. I’ll probably end up apply to George Mason, especially since they are going to give me a fee waiver! 😊


After the campus tours, we changed into our professional clothes, had our first color group meeting, and then headed down to one of the student centers for dinner and our first keynote speaker. Dinner was baked Ziti-YUM-with Greek salad and potatoes. [Did I mention they still think I’m a vegetarian? I filled the thing out months ago when I was still eating meat. Now it’s too late lol whoops.]

Our keynote speaker was Sonya Gavankar. She is the PR manager for the Newseum in D.C. She’s worked with ABC, CBS, PBS, and QVC doing a range of things. She was hilarious. One of the first things she said was “but I don’t have a snapchat because I’m a grown-ass adult.” She said a lot of humorous things, but also delivered many good messages.  One of my favorite things that she said was “To be interesting, you have to be interested,” and “You have to always be cognizant of what makes you special.” [Passion + experience = platform]. (ALSO, ON CAPITAL HILL WOMEN NOW AREN’T ALLOWED TO WEAR SLEEVELESS DRESS/SHIRTS. EXCUSE ME. YOU WILL SEE AN OPINION PIECE ON THIS SOON)


After Sonya, we had our last color group meeting of the night. We played an icebreaker called something trains. It was exactly like “I’m special because…” from a leadership seminar I attend called Illinois Leadership Seminars. Then we worked on our elevator pitch. Mine was:

“Hi, I’m Maddie Kuhl. I am a senior at Durand Highschool and am earning my associate’s degree at Highland Community College. I want to find a career in media that fits my abilities and interests. Once I find that career I would like to tell the stories of people whose voices aren’t always heard, such as people of color and those in the LGBTQ community.”

The more I delve into media/journalism, the more unsure I am of my major. I love to write and to tell others’ stories, but at the same time, I really want to incorporate photography or video into it. Hopefully, this week will help me to figure this out.


Tomorrow is a super exciting day! We get to visit the Newseum, and then get to go on our moonlit monuments tour. I’m super excited to get some great photos as well! The next day is even more exciting, we get to go to the capital building and get to decide to either take a capital tour, museum hop, or visit the Holocaust museum. I’m leaning towards the Holocaust museum, but I’m not entirely sure yet.

Breakfast is from 7-8 tomorrow morning, and my color group decided to just go down anytime between then, and check in through our GroupMe with a selfie.

I’m so excited for this week, and cannot wait to learn more about all the different careers in journalism, and learn so many insightful things from other speakers!


Press Pass
My *very legit* press pass.
Some of my fellow ‘Blurred Limes’ and I with the #LimePeelPouch ❤
End of the first night!



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