Guest Blog: Student Journalists Meet Jane Pauley

This week, I’m happy to hand over my blog to several extremely talented student journalists. On January 29, 2020, as part of the inaugural season of The Chesapeake Forum, student media representatives from each of our high schools had the unique opportunity to interview award-winning journalist and host of CBS Sunday Morning, Jane Pauley. The experience allowed these students to hone the interviewing, photography and writing skills they are learning every day in their classes. I was also thrilled to be able to join over 50 additional high school students and teachers who were invited to the event as part of a grant provided by Chesapeake Regional Health Center. Thank you for providing these amazing opportunities for our students. Here’s a look at their experience:

An icon in the world of broadcast journalism and a strong advocate for mental health, Jane Pauley has built a legacy spanning over four decades.  The Chesapeake Forum held its premier event on January 29, where Pauley was invited to speak about her life and career. Pauley’s speech was preceded by a wonderful performance by the Deep Creek High School Orchestra, the presentation of an esteemed badge by three Girl Scout Cadets, and a quick introduction by local famed journalist Barbara Ciara of WTKR News Channel 3.  

Throughout the speech, Mrs. Pauley referred often to her book Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, detailing stories of those she has met or heard of who did not find their passion or “life calling” until later in life.  The thing that stuck out to me most from this was how she acknowledged and welcomed the unpredictability of life, as seen through the many people she discussed. Pauley also made it a point to acknowledge the role of mental health in her life, specifically her struggle with bipolar disorder.  Being someone who struggles daily with anxiety, Pauley’s awareness of her bipolar disorder and ability to cope demonstrated to me that it is possible to follow your path and your passions, passing obstacles and roadblocks along the way.

Personally, the most remarkable moment of the event was before Mrs. Pauley’s speech even began.  The student media representatives from each of the Chesapeake high schools, myself included, were presented with the opportunity to speak with Pauley earlier in the evening, where we were able to ask her questions about her life, her career, and journalism in general.  Although we were only given time to ask her one question each, her eloquent, yet passionate words charmed each of us, furthering my understanding and fuelling my passion for journalism. As someone who has always had an adoration for the journalism field, I saw it fit to ask Mrs. Pauley: “What advice do you have for young people with a passion in journalism, those who want to ‘give a voice to the voiceless?’”  She responded, “They’re [the ‘voiceless’] waiting for you, waiting to be identified. Nothing is stopping you. If something inspires you, go do it.” I could not be more grateful for Mrs. Pauley’s inspiring words or for the opportunity given to me by Chesapeake Public Schools for being able to attend this life-changing event. 

– Samantha Piver, Oscar Smith High School

The quote “Television is not my dream, it’s just my best idea,” resounded in my mind as Jane Pauley answered questions from all of the student media representatives. It had not been my turn to ask a question, and I had forgotten and abandoned the, suddenly vague and dull, questions I had already prepared. It was my chance to finally ask the legend of journalism, Jane Pauley, a question. I asked her to explain how she discovered who she was even after the pressures of societal norms were all around her. She honestly stated that she fell into the same challenge of finding herself as a journalist. She encouraged me to be completely myself but always learn to improve and distinguish myself from others. I was utterly surprised by the kindness Mrs. Pauley exhibited as she talked with all of the student media representatives. 

After our interview with Jane Pauley, I was also privileged to witness WTKR’s Barbara Ciara introduce Pauley and I was starstruck. My family and I love to watch the news show WTKR every night. When I saw her in person, it was like a dream. I have a list of female leaders who inspire me to become successful and she is definitely on my list. 

Then, I watched in awe as Jane Pauley spoke of her life and her accomplishments. I took as many pictures and videos as I could to remember this opportunity forever.

The best part of the evening was when my forensics coach, Jane Pauley, and I were the last ones left in the program. We talked about the importance and significance of forensics. She even asked me for speech advice. I was very surprised and shakily wrote down a few tips on how to deliver an effective speech. Then, she even asked for my autograph. I often reflect that if I had never stayed back, then I would have never received an unforgettable experience quite like that one. 

This was an incredible and memorable experience that can never be replaced in my memory. It was an honor and privilege to meet, interview, and advise Jane Pauley, and I hope I can have other opportunities such as this one.

– Aderonke Adeleke, Indian River High School

You can see more coverage, including more interviews with our student media representatives, produced by Chesapeake TV below: