An Ode to The Washington Journalism and Media Conference

It’s that time of year again. When I woke up this morning and checked my TimeHop, I was reminded of The Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC). Three years ago today, I went to a conference that completely changed my life.

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Selfie on top of the Newseum (via Washington Scholars Flickr).

I was invited by George Mason University to attend The Washington Journalism and Media Conference during my sophomore year of high school. After amazing fundraising efforts by my aunts all the way in Australia, I was able to gain all the funds to attend the conference. July 7th, 2013, I found myself in a plane at Greensboro International Airport, flying to D.C.

This conference marked many milestones for me, at sixteen. It was my first real plane ride, my first conference that far from home, the first time I really exposed my writing to the world. Ultimately, I chose to go to D.C. for the city (it was my third time visiting) and the exposure–I wanted to learn more about writing, and meet others that enjoyed to write as much as I did.

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Sitting in a sports journalism panel (via Washington Scholars Flickr).

Five days later, I left Washington a completely different person.

I had found a new love for writing, and that fueled me to write more than ever before. It influenced my choices for college, my viewpoint of the world and made me so much more interested in politics.

I made lifelong friends in Washington. I was given a greater exposure to the real-world–more so than I ever had before. I met celebrities, conducted interviews at the Capitol, got a behind-the-scenes pass of D.C. The Washington Journalism and Media Conference was an experience I’ll never forget, simply because it was the greatest five days of my life–the most influential experience of my life.

Three years later, and I still remember that conference like it was yesterday. Three years later, I have a successful blog and podcast, go to my dream school, and aim to write for a

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Interviewing Chris Moyer at the Capitol. 

living. I am confident in saying that none of this would have happened without the push WJMC gave me–and 250 other high school students–during my time in D.C.

This blog–what is now “miareneecole.com”–was created over three years ago for WJMC, and

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My group leader, Brian, and I before the evening gala.

here I am, still writing on it. While at the conference, I wrote regular blog posts about my time there. Read them here.

Photo courtesy of: Washington Scholars

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