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GALLERY: Our JEA Experience


From Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, I got the chance to not only spend an amazing three days in Chicago with 10 of my fellow 42Fifty students and my adviser, Ms. Sarah Hands, but I also got the chance to capture our adventure through my love of photography.

Over the three days, our team got to walk through the “Saturday Night Live” Experience at the Museum of Broadcast Communications, learn from sessions presented by experienced journalists at the Journalism Education Association Conference, and connect with one another on a more personal level.

The sixth floor of the Palmer Hilton Hotel, where we stayed,  was definitely 42Fifty’s hangout spot during the trip. The floor consisted of only offices, ballrooms, and lobbies—no guests were staying on the floor, and it was mostly vacant all three days, with the exception of a hotel worker doing a security check once in a while. The table where we all sat was where we held our daily debrief meetings, shared what we learned in our lectures, and gave ideas to improve our publication. When we were there, we also had free time. During free time, I don’t think there was a moment when we weren’t all together. Our team always wanted to do things as a group—even after bed check, we would still be talking over the phone with one another.

Our JEA trip was where my classmates became more than classmates—more than just people who sit next to me for 45 minutes of my day. I got to watch my classmates’ eyes light up with passion for journalism, share meaningful conversations, and make jokes that made us laugh until there were tears in our eyes. JEA was where our classroom-setting relationships developed into sincere friendships, and our overall care for one another increased.

Capturing each aspect of those moments was overall my favorite part of the trip. Some people have said the worst part of being a photographer is that you’re in none of your photos, but in those moments of pure happiness and joy, I rarely think about being in the frame. I think about capturing others’ happiness because I already know how I’m feeling, but the real challenge is showing how they feel in a single still moment. As I’m sure my friends who went to JEA would agree, the trip was both an educational field trip as well as a personal adventure, and I was so happy I got the chance to capture “Our JEA Experience” through the lens of my camera.

The 42Fifty team stops on the walkway of Chicago to regroup on where to head next, and to take a look at the famous Chicago riverwalk view. Managing Editor Jacob Anderson cracks a joke, making the group break out into laughter.

Pictured, left to right: Charlotte Conkrite, Lizzy Sorensen, Jacob Anderson, Riah Trevino, Ms. Hands, Charlie Recchia.

”This was a big trip for us, so our energy was high,” Anderson said. “Everyone made me very happy in those moments.”

Adviser Ms. Sarah Hands leads the group in discussion and has fun with her students as well.

“I was so happy to see my students bonding with each other and growing their passion and enthusiasm for journalism,” Ms Hands said.

Managing Editor of Editorial Content Jamani Reed sits in one of the “Saturday Night Live” cast makeup chairs at the Museum of Broadcast Communications on Thursday.  

“Walking through the ‘Saturday Night Live’ experience was a huge deal for me,“ Reed said. “I have always wanted to be a part of it for as long as I could remember, so seeing the process they go through weekly made me more excited to eventually be on the show myself as a cast member or even as a host.”

At the  museum on Thursday, Entertainment Editor Charlie Recchia enjoys the set of Wayne’s World as he sits on the couch, pretending to play the guitar.  

“I felt like a part of history,” Recchia said. “Sitting on the Wayne’s World couch felt very special, as it’s one of my favorite skits.”

Walking through the museum, Blog Editor Kenzie Cook also stops for a moment on the set of Wayne’s World, laughing while lying on the couch of the set from the show “Saturday Night Live.”

“I always wondered how they set up the show, and seeing the behind the scenes really put it in perspective for me,” Cook said.

Entertainment Editor Dylan Jahnke walks into the JEA Convention on Friday,  excited to start his seminars for the day.

“I couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Jahnke said. “It was like a dream come true to actually be doing something in the real world…that was journalist-related.”

Exploring the “haunted” Palmer House Hilton, Managing Video Editor Charlotte Conkrite vlogs the group’s ghost hunt on Thursday.

“Videotaping the trip was so much fun,” Conkrite said. “Being with that group of people…I felt I was part of something, part of a group where I fit in.”

Sports Editor Alex Mielcarz shares laughs with the team on the way to the convention on Thursday.

“The whole experience was a good one. It was very useful,” Mielcarz said. “It got me hyped up, because this is something I’m considering pursuing in life.”

A game of Jenga breaks out in the exhibition hall between the 42Fifty students.

“I learned the importance of working as a team and really communicating,” News Editor Lizzy Sorensen (pictured left) said. “The game of Jenga was just one way for us to build the team mentality within 42Fifty.”

Together at the exhibition hall, Anderson and Sorensen win as a team in Jenga.

“It was very exciting…just the people with Lizzy and everyone made me very happy,” Anderson said.

Every night, the 42Fifty team debriefs the information from the lectures on the sixth floor, which is also is where the team plays games and talks during free time.

“My overall favorite part was the down time, because we all were able to bond as a class and get to know each other more on a personal level rather than just on an educational level,” Jahnke said.

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