Ask the Alumnus | Devin Newby
Devin Newby was one of SRL’s very first fellows who traveled to Washington D.C. back in 2014 for our student academy. At the time, his teacher, Julie Tiedens, said, “Devin is a rare student. As a high school junior, he has some of the best news leadership skills I’ve seen. He’s smart and curious, two qualities that, combined with his commitment to excellence help make him a great editor and journalist.” During high school, he served as the editor-in-chief of his school newspaper and anchored his school’s morning announcement show. Now, he’s at the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities, pursuing a degree in physiology. Devin shared with us how the skills he learned through SRL have translated to other areas of his life.
What have you been up to since SRL?
Since SRL, I have been a VERY busy college student at the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities as a junior physiology major with a premedical focus. Though I have not been pursuing journalism as a career, I have used EVERY skill that I learned through being a student reporter for SRL as I prepare to apply for medical school.
What experiences or lessons do you value most from your time with SRL?
As a student reporter, I gained so many skills that have helped me in college and generally throughout my life thus far. The technical experience helped me land my first job as a production assistant for Gopher Athletics in which I’ve been able to be “in the action” for live broadcasts. I’ve been able to be on field at football games, talk to new and interesting people, and I’ve even gained some of my closest friends: the student athletes our production team has interviewed. The experiences were also pivotal in allowing me to become a medical scribe in Minneapolis Emergency Departments, which has been a fast-paced and exciting environment to gain some medical knowledge from medical professionals. The practical experience, such as gaining confidence in talking to all different kinds of people, getting plenty of practice writing, and thinking outside of the box, are the skills that are honestly unparalleled when it comes to student opportunities. It’s very rare that high school students get to visit DC to interview a colonel in the White House, have their voice aired on a national platform, and meet some close friends that they can also network with.
What advice do you have for current SRL participants?
My advice to current SRL participants is to soak up the experience and knowledge like a sponge! A lot of students will never have this opportunity, and it is an opportunity that puts you far ahead of all other students in any field you decide to pursue (journalism or not). In my experience, having friends in college journalism classes, the knowledge and exposure SRL gives high school students even puts you ahead of most college journalism students. Another piece of advice I’d give SRL Participants can be boiled down to one word: NETWORK! The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is a very true statement as I have come to find out. You, as SRL participants, have the rare opportunity to meet TOP journalists and industry professionals. Use it to your advantage! They want you to succeed, and they want to help you! Finally, I’d tell them to reach out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or talk to people. Taking the first step and putting yourself out there is probably one of the most important first steps.
How has being a journalist helped you grow as a young adult?
Being a SRL journalist has helped me as a young adult in so many ways. Though my career path is no longer journalism, the interviewing techniques, writing, research skills, and confidence gained have put me so far ahead of my peers that I can go into any situation feeling comfortable and prepared. Whenever I get nervous, I just tell myself, “Devin, you walked into the White House as an invited guest, you were mentored by MSNBC/PBS NewsHour professionals who believed in you, and you’ve accomplished so much at such an early stage in your life already. Use those skills, be confident, and understand that you can do anything that you want to do.”