On the Way to Journalistic Excellence

By Soledad Mendoza 01/06/2012

by Soledad Mendoza, RLHS '12

I first found out about the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program from a search I did online, but it was an e-mail I received from Rob, the director of College Counseling, that really encouraged me to apply. I had to write a couple essays, send in transcripts, teacher recommendations, test scores, and go through an interview, but on April 15, I finally received my acceptance e-mail to the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program. I was surprised but incredibly happy to be one of 21 students selected to attend this all-expenses paid program, which ran from July 29 to August 8.

  I met journalists from the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Daily Beast, CNN, Politico, and NBC. One of my counselors, who has now turned into my second college counselor, is also the current editor-in-chief of the New Republic. The majority of our counselors, however, were past SJP alums who now write for their college papers and came back to the program to help the new students.

Our journalism seminar culminated in two activities. The first of these, the investigative report, came about halfway through our stay. After a morning of visiting the New York Times headquarters, Daily Beast/Newsweek headquarters, and CNN in New York, we received our first investigative journalism assignment: we were to visit various drug stores around the city and investigate whether the stores were following a New York City law that required them to remove expired items from the shelves. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but after being harassed and kicked out of the first store we visited, I changed my mind. Collectively, in a little over three hours, we discovered dozens of expired foods and medications. Three of my fellow students wrote an article about it and it was published in an edition of the Princeton Summer Journal, which was our final project. Everyone contributed at least one story to the paper and it was published on the final day of the seminar. I wrote a feature story about Princeton reinstating early action and an  editorial about sexual education in high schools.

The work was hard. We suffered fromwhat we called “SJP syndrome,” which pretty much meant severe lack of sleep, combined with an extraordinary amount of pizza, bagels, and writing. It was also the most fun I’ve ever had. I made friendships that will last a lifetime, became a stronger writer, and learned to step out of my comfort zone. If I could, I’d do it all over again.

Addendum: Soledad Mendoza was recently accepted to Princeton University after applying through Early Action. Congratulations, Soledad!


Soledad poses proudly at the completion of Princeton's Summer Journalism Program

Soledad poses proudly at the completion of Princeton's Summer Journalism Program

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