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Voices Alumni Sto...

CANDICE NGUYEN

Name: Candice Nguyen

Voices year and role: 2010, Los Angeles, student participant

Current position: Reporter/Fill-in Anchor San Diego 6 News

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

Before Voices, I was a news writer and had little experience being on-air and meeting hard deadlines. Voices helped build my confidence and confirmed journalism was the career I had to pursue.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices?

To this day, I am able to contact journalists around the country, because I met them through AAJA Voices. The program opened an entire community to me that provides a great amount support.

Voices is also helping me help others. Fellow Voicers call me for advice, and I am always more than happy to help. A few months back, I helped one girl from my year land a freelance job at my news station.

KYLE KIM

Name: Kyle Kim

Voices year and role: Detroit 2010, multimedia

Current position: GlobalPost's Deputy Social Media and News Desk Editor

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? I wouldn't be working for GP if it had not been for Voices. The combination of hard work and respect I earned with the Voices editors eventually led me to a part-time job for GlobalPost. The program helped me get my foot in the ever-revolving journalism door.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? 

Networking used to intimidate me, but now it's something I look forward to. One of the big things I appreciated about Voices was how they teach the importance of being able to fearlessly interact with news bigwigs and professionals.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices:

If you support Voices, you're investing in the future or journalism and news leaders.

YIMOU LEE

Name: Yimou Lee

Voices year and role: 2011, Detroit Voices student reporter

Current position: Correspondent at Thomson Reuters, Hong Kong

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

AAJA Voices provided me a great opportunity and platform to show what I'm capable of doing -- finding out local stories that might resonate with a broader audience; not to mention great help from mentors and senior reporters in AAJA.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been inVoices?

To me AAJA Voices is a gateway in between journalism school and journalism, and I'm glad I chose the right path.

EMMA CAREW GROVUM

Name: Emma Carew Grovum

Voices year and role: 2007 (Miami) print and radio reporter

Current position: Data journalist at The Chronicle of Philanthropy

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? Voices exposed me to a larger network of AAJA-ers and the convention experience. Although I was primarily assigned as a print reporter, the time I spent with the radio staff led to mentorships and friendships that have endured over the past six years. I haven't missed an AAJA convention since, and have stepped up to give back to AAJA in a variety of positions, ranging from chapter president to programming committee.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? I have a strong sense of what makes a mentor and how to shape my own career, largely owing to a lasting relationship with NPR's Doug Mitchell. I'm also not sure I would have taken the plunge to commit financially to attending the convention in 2008 and beyond without the sneak peek I had from Voices. The little bit of the convention I was allowed out to see made me hungrier for more.

TRACY JAN

Name: Tracy Jan

Voices year and role: 1997 (Boston)

Current position: Political reporter, The Boston Globe, Washington Bureau

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? Through Voices, AAJA has provided me invaluable mentors and lifelong friends, both as a student first working on the project and in subsequent years in editing roles as a professional. I got my first daily newspaper internship through my Voices editor, Jonathan Gaw, at the Star Tribune. I will always be grateful to Voices and AAJA for setting me on my professional path.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? As a professional, working on Voices as an assignment editor has given me opportunities to develop editing and management skills that I otherwise would not have experienced. The hardest part is staying in the zone between motivating young reporters to excel and maintaining their voice and ownership over their stories. That week, as well as the months leading up to the convention, is always a chance for me to grow as a journalist because I'm thrust into a role I have not had since editing my college newspaper. It helps me understand, to a small degree, the pressures my own editors are under every day.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices: With all the downer news out there about the state of media today, there are still young people considering the important work of journalism as a career. We should do everything we can to foster the next generation, including providing training, a support network of peers and professionals, and their first internships or jobs. Also the editing roles give working journalists a unique opportunity to get hands-on professional development.

JAMES TENSUAN

Name: James Tensuan

Year and role: Voices 2011 in Detroit. Photographer

Current position: Junior at San Jose State University. Multimedia intern at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? Voices gave me confidence. My mentors taught me that it's okay to assert myself and to network with people I admire. Since doing Voices I have maintained a close relationship with my fellow students and mentors. Their guidance over the years has been invaluable.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? Without Voices I don't think I would have enough nerve to network. They taught me to carry myself and to put myself out there.

HELEN KWONG

Name: Helen Kwong

Voices year and role: 2003 (San Diego), copy editor

Current position: Research specialist at NBCUniversal

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

When I started out in journalism, I rarely saw any Asian American journalists. Voices introduced me to talented, amazing Asian American journalists at newspapers that I looked up to, and it also introduced me to young journalists who look just like me. The camaraderie we had in the San Diego hotel newsroom has continued 10 years later.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices?

I probably wouldn't have met many people if it weren't for Voices. Voices allowed me to easily strike up conversations with seasoned journalists because they are familiar with the newspaper and they know that I'm a student. It was amazing how many are interested to hear what I have to say because I was a student. (I understand that now as a professional). I remember this tip when I went back to school to study news librarianship and went to library conventions and programs.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices:

Voices is a great opportunity for students to work one-on-one with mentors, something that rarely happens at internships. A week of picking editors' brains and getting advice from talented journalists is the best opportunity any budding journalist can have.

FRANK SHYONG

Name: Frank Shyong

Voices year and role: Detroit 2011, Reporter and news anchor

Current position: Reporter, Los Angeles Times

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

The people at AAJA Voices were the first people I met in the industry to truly believe in me and take real interest in the direction of my career. When I did the program, I was a year out of college, struggling to find journalism opportunities, and considering a move to public relations. The program opened my eyes to all of the opportunities and possibilities out there, and I was told - in no uncertain terms - that I needed to give journalism a try. Suddenly I had this big crew of people in my corner rooting for me. Their high expectations drove me to work harder, and they wrote recommendation letters, sent me job postings and coached me on big interviews. They transformed what had been a lonely, often discouraging job search into a team effort. If it weren't for Voices and the people I've met through it, I wouldn't be a journalist today.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices?

Voices made me a stronger job applicant and a better journalist. Voices staffers helped me identify the standards of professional communication. I learned how to conduct myself with recruiters and during job interviews. My mentors suggested edits to my resume that helped me appear as a serious applicant instead of an aspiring college journalist. But they've also helped me set my own moral compass. I've learned to not only seek opportunities but to deserve them and appreciate them, as well. Voices mentors have also helped me make the right choices in painful, emotional breaking news situations.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices:

These days, most newsrooms, facing layoffs and instability, don't bother to train young journalists. They may offer internships but will rarely view their interns as anything other than cheap, temporary labor. But young journalists are not just cheap labor - they will shape the industry in the future. Giving them your time and money is the surest way of keeping journalism and its principles strong. Voices is one of the very few remaining programs in the country whose mission is to not only train but to create the next generation of journalists. The program reaches aspiring journalists at a critical point in their careers - just as they are forming impressions of the industry and confronting the economic realities of journalism as a profession. This annual intervention has directly created hundreds of journalists with a strong sense of the AAPI community's issues over the past two decades, and I am just one of them.

DEREK LIEU

Name: Derek Lieu

Voices year and role: Los Angeles 2010 as a photographer and videographer

Current position: Graphics producer at Chronicle of Philanthropy

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? In Voices, I had the chance to test my mettle working in a seriously fast-paced newsroom. Because the expectations were so high, I produced great pieces for my portfolio, and met wonderful mentors who gave me advice and helped me find a job later on.

What can I do today that I couldn't have done without having been in Voices?

Say that I jumped on a party bus full of European high school students to get the photo essay due the next day!

Other thoughts? Quality journalism experience is hard to come by, especially if you can't afford to take on unpaid internships. In Voices, you can build connections and a portfolio quickly. The mentors are all deeply invested in making it a great experience - many are Voices alums paying it forward. It's a wonderful program that is worthy of support.

MARIA HECHANOVA

Name: Maria Hechanova

Voices year and role: Boston 2009 (student), L.A. 2010 (mentor)

Current position: Reporter for KOLD/KMSB in Tucson, AZ

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

It's hard to navigate the professional world as a college student, because you're unsure of how it works. Voices helped me feel involved with AAJA. The support AAJA gives its members is amazing!

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices?

I wouldn't have made the connections I did with Boston 2009 Voices alumni Carolyn Chin and Sherene Tagharobi. It's such a small world! We all ended up in Michigan at one point in our careers and have become good friends.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices:

These students are the next generation of journalists. Why not invest in the future?

BAO ONG

Name: Bao Ong

Voices year and role: 2003, San Diego, student

Current position: Freelance journalist

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? My experience as a student on the 2003 Voices project left me more motivated and prepared than any internship did throughout college. I've never had as much one-on-one time with editors. They constantly challenged me to write faster and more clearly with style--all under deadline pressure I hadn't faced before. It wasn't easy, but it showed me how professional journalists approached their jobs. I fell in love with journalism through this experience.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? I learned a lot about being a professional in the newsroom, and the high expectations editors expect you to meet no matter how big or small the story. It's an attitude that I try keep at all times.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices: Voices is an experience that's invaluable for any student of journalism. It's a perfect training ground for the next generation of Asian American journalists.

YOWEI SHAW

Name: Yowei Shaw

Voices year and role: 2009, Boston, student reporter

Current position: Freelance radio reporter and audio producer

How did AAJA Voices shape your path?

I came to AAJA Voices with zero newsroom experience. Sure, I had reported radio features with an editor before. But working with a whole team of reporters and editors under tight deadlines to produce a collective product? Boy, did it kick my butt! AAJA Voices was very stressful and hard. There was a lot of Red Bull involved. But getting shown the ropes by tough, caring professional journalists was invaluable. It was my first taste of the real journalism world, and even though I wasn't quite ready for it at the time, I loved it and knew I'd be back for more.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices?

Talking to editors without being absolutely terrified.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices:

For a young reporter, building meaningful relationships with mentors is probably the second most important step to making it in the real world. The first step, of course, is to report challenging stories and learn from your mistakes. And Voices provides students with both.

SEWELL CHAN

Name:  Sewell Chan

Voices year and role: reporter, Honolulu 1995; editor, San Diego 2003

Current position: deputy editor, The New York Times, Op-Ed/Sunday Review

How did AAJA Voices shape your path? It exposed me to wonderful journalists from whom I learned valuable skills, and were useful contacts.

What can you do today that you wouldn't be able to do without having been in Voices? Voices helped me get my start in journalism. It exposed me to an extremely supportive community of API journalists that I hadn't known existed.

Any other thoughts on why people should support Voices: Because it's a valuable student project that exposes young people to professionals at a critical time, when they are figuring out whether journalism might be a good career for them, and how they might contribute to it.