Senior year can be an exciting, yet stressful time for students. After four years of hard work, graduation is finally on the horizon, but there is a question that is left unanswered — will I get a job?
For Averett senior Dakota Rogers of Keysville, that's not a question he has to worry about. Rogers, a communication studies/journalism major, had an internship this summer with ABC 13 WSET-TV, a local news station based out of Lynchburg. He impressed them so much that after completing his internship, he was hired as a full-time video-journalist. Rogers does not graduate until May.
"A lot of the staff really appreciated my work ethic and my dedication. It was humbling to hear what some of the staff had to say about me, and to be given this opportunity is amazing," Rogers said.
While Rogers was an intern at WSET, his positive attitude was something that stood out to his superiors. Len Stevens, news anchor and acting news director at WSET, was impressed with the talent that Rogers brought from his education at Averett.
"He made a huge impression on everyone here as an intern, and many people in the newsroom were excited about hiring him," Stevens said. "He has one of the best attitudes of anyone I've been around."
According to Stevens, Rogers' tasks as a video-journalist will include going out with reporters or on his own, with station equipment to cover a variety of stories for WSET. He will also help edit video for newscasts as needed.
"We expect our new hires to hit the ground running and get up to speed very quickly, and Dakota has already shown he's doing that. We're very happy to have him."
Rogers credits Dr. Susan Huckstep, assistant professor of communication studies/journalism, for informing him of the internship opportunity at WSET, as well as the entire department for preparing him for his success.
"Dr. Huckstep helped me out a lot," Rogers said. "I received criticism for the things I needed work on, as well as praise for the things I did well. She really cares about her students which was extremely helpful for me to succeed."
Being in a smaller demographic, Rogers says the stories he covers aren't typically major headline stories, but in his short time at WSET, he has already covered at least one major news story. Rogers was assigned to go on scene with WSET reporter Parker Slaybaugh in Nelson County to cover a story on a local missing teen, Alexis Murphy.
"By the time we got back to the station, it was almost midnight, and since I had an almost two-hour drive home, I didn't want to go all the way back home just to come back the next day. So I slept in the WSET parking lot."
Rogers then went to a local Burger King to freshen up, and spent another full day covering the Alexis Murphy search.
"We got back to the station about midnight again, but this time I didn't spend another night in my vehicle. It was two 15-hour days in a row, but it was definitely worth it."
Many would think being a full-time student and working a full-time job would be too much to handle, and Rogers originally thought so too, but he knew he could not turn down such an amazing opportunity.
"I am more on top of my classes than I was before. I think it's because I really have no time for a lot of extra things. I'm pushed more to get it done, and because of that, I don't lose a lot of time with unimportant activities."
The only hard part for Rogers is the late hours. Rogers finishes his classes and begins the commute to Lynchburg, located a little over an hour away from Danville. His shift ends at 11:30 p.m. and he does not return to campus until after 1 a.m., but he is adjusting to the new routine.
To have job security before actually graduating is uncommon, but Rogers proves that hard work, dedication and a positive attitude make anything possible.
"I'm very, very grateful to be given an opportunity to work in my potential profession, and to be working before I have even graduated. It still hasn't completely sunk in yet."
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