By Livi Lesch
Wando High School
Before camper Willie Daniely could enter the Georgia Bulldog football office, the coach stopped him to go over rules all journalists had to follow in the building.
No filming football players.
No filming in certain rooms.
Before any camera was turned on for the interview, the coach ordered for Daniely to show him all the questions he came prepared with.
“It was an intense experience because they were treating us like we were real journalists,” Daniely said.
The journalistic environment that Daniely found at the University of Georgia’s Media and Leadership Academy became a big factor in determining his enrollment at UGA and what he envisioned for his future. The comfort Daniely found in the camp was not his only motivation for coming back three summers in a row, but also to get ahead of the curb and establish a name for himself in the Grady community. Daniely knew he wanted to be a counselor for the camp the first time he ever attended.
“[The camp has] opened my eyes to the field of journalism… given me more information in the field. I feel like if I didn’t do this camp I probably would have never been able to get an internship at CNN [and] be able to comfortably talk about journalism in a place like CNN,” Daniely said.
The relationships Daniely made at the camp came into play at his new internship with CNN when he reconnected with a former camp counselor, Teman Worku, who now works for CNN. Daniely credited his internship at CNN and enrollment in UGA to his positive camp experiences.
Like Daniely, Worku credits the camp with inspiring her journalism career.
“Doing the camp in the first place changed my life I would say … we have some of the most intelligent minds and outside thinkers and innovative people go through our doors,” Worku said.
Worku said Daniely is following a similar path she took.
“[Daniely] really utilized the connections he makes at Grady… If you see his social media or how he is as a person, he’s very much about meeting people, knowing people, talking about his passion, and seeing what opportunities he can find for himself then going for it,” Worku said.
Although Daniely loved the connections he made and opportunities that came out the camp, he believed Grady College was what made the camp special. The college’s ability to make a teenager feel like a professional journalist inspired Daniely join the camp as a counselor.
“Grady College. That’s what I really love about this camp. If it was anywhere else I probably wouldn’t be apart of it,” Daniely said, “This camp really did a lot for me so I am sure it could do something for other people too.”