By Nicole Raz, JAWS fellowships co-chair
Can you point to the exact moment when you realized, “Aha! Now I get to be in a position to pay it forward”?
I can. It was at the end of my JAWS Emerging Journalist Fellowship in 2014. The fellows and I organized on Twitter to take over the stage of whatever wonderful lunch or wrap-up session was taking place to say thank you to everybody for giving us the opportunity to be part of JAWS and 2014 JAWS’ Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP).
We each said a few words into a microphone trying to relay just how much the past few days impacted each of us on a personal and professional level. After we finished, it was former JAWS president Megan Kamerick who stood up and said something like, “This is the future of JAWS.”
That’s when it hit me. Despite my own professional limitations that came with being an “emerging” fellow, I had something to offer this organization that had already given me so much since I had first joined in 2010: Commitment, energy and inspiration.
Now equipped with the self empowerment that CAMP guarantees, I used these tools to become more involved with JAWS: posting on the listserv more than I had before, allowing my regional JAWS D.C. professional relationships to grow into personal ones, offering to help review the following year’s fellowship applications, and becoming nearly a walking infomercial promoting JAWS and reaching out to more women to join. I became very active in my regional JAWS group, pitching skill-sharing events, teaming up with other JAWS members on freelance projects and contributing whatever I could anytime I could. I learned how to speak up in my newsroom and advocate for more women sourcing.
Only three years later, I am helping to run the JAWS fellowship committee and have started a regional JAWS group in my new town of Las Vegas.
This is what a JAWS fellowship did for me. No way would I have been able to make it to CAMP that year without the generous support of JAWS members and others who contributed to JAWS’ annual crowdfunding campaign, which helps JAWS to cover the costs of CAMP registration, travel, hotel stays and meals for fellows.
I was only one of ten other emerging fellows, others of whom have since joined the JAWS board. What an opportunity.
Mark your calendars: Our crowdfunding campaign for the 2017 CAMP fellows will launch on Monday, June 26. To support an individual fellow’s campaign, click here. To make a general donation to CAMP fellowships, click here. We thank you in advance for your contribution to the future of JAWS.