DePaul alum highlights DePaul/Kenya Program Through Video

30 Sep

Renita D  Young PhotoEarlier this year, Demon Tracks stumbled upon alumna Renita Young’s (COM ’07) blog (http://renitagoestokenya.blogspot.com) and we were fascinated by her tales of living and working as a broadcast journalist in Nairobi, Kenya. DePaul reached out to Renita, who graciously agreed to use her talents to create a video highlighting the Tangaza College collaborative learning program, run by DePaul’s School for New Learning, which graduated it’s first crop of students last year

We chatted with Renita about her time in Kenya and her experience working on the Tangaza video, which you can check out on the DePaul alumni and FriendsYouTube channel or at the end of the interview.

Tell me about your background at DePaul and how it prepared you for your current career path in journalism and social media?

At DePaul, I majored in communication/TV, radio, film production with a minor in English/professional writing. About half way through my studies, I took a journalism class and have been hooked ever since. It was at DePaul that I developed some of the little-known core values of journalism through liberal arts training: A good ear to listen, a good mind to analyze and curiosity that sparks good questions.

What eventually took you to Kenya? How long did you stay and what was your job there?

I went to Kenya to complete an internship as part of my graduate studies in journalism. From January through March of 2009, I worked as a business reporter for Nairobi-based K24-TV, which is the country’s first 24-hour news network. I reported on topics ranging from trade and mobile competition, to disaster preparedness and how Kenyan banks are seeking to prevent a local market meltdown.

How was that experience for you?

Well, at first I found that it was hard to find news in Kenya. It’s not a country that has a tradition of a free press or of working directly with reporters, but coming from an undergraduate liberal arts background at DePaul, I was able to use my research skills to tease out unusual ideas and follow up on leads. It gave me the background to be able to tell a good story.

What were some of the most notable stories that you worked on?

I had the chance to interview many influential people in the country, including U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger about US-Kenya relations. On one assignment, I interviewed Deloris Jordan from the James Jordan Foundation and mother of “His Airness,” Michael Jordan. That was a pleasant surprise to run into another Chicagoan while far away from home. I also had the honor of reporting on President Barack Obama’s inauguration from the U.S. Embassy’s counselor for foreign affairs’ viewing party. It was an unforgettable experience!

What made you decide to start a blog about your time in Keyna?

I initially used the blog to keep friends and family abreast of what I did while I was there. It was a “reporter’s notebook” style blog and served as my online journal of my experiences working at K24. My postings discussed the difference between business reporting in Kenya and the United States, and some of the stories I wrote for K24. It also highlighted some of the entertainment I enjoyed and my overall experience of living in Kenya.

Can you tell us more about the video project you’ve recently completed for us at DePaul?

While I was in Kenya, DePaul’s office of Advancement contacted me to document via video and photos its Tangaza College Program. In 2005, the School for New Learning created the partnership, offering social ministry and spirituality students at Tangaza College a bachelor’s degree in leadership and management. Previously these students had access only to a two-year program and received the equivalent of an associate’s degree.

So I took a day and went to Tangaza College to interview students, faculty and alumni about the degree program, how it has changed their lives and how they will use the knowledge gained to change their communities. Once I got back to Chicago, I interviewed Dr. Derise Tolliver, DePaul’s director of the Tangaza project and produced two videos for the program, including six short vignettes of faculty, students and alumni sharing how the program has changed their lives.

This was particularly groundbreaking, because the {Tanzaga] teachers, students, faculty and alumni from the program say that they’d never seen a program that broke the traditional course structure and combined experiential learning with classroom learning and community involvement, the way this program does.

What’s next for you, career wise?

Currently, I’m the director of social media at Women of the World (formerly with World Trade Center, Illinois), a Chicago-based networking organization that provides opportunities to professional women through collaboration, networking and mentoring.

As the job market picks up, I look forward to reporting business news full time for a major network television station. My passion is to produce reports that are relevant to average citizens in a depressed economic climate, so that they know how to best plan their futures.

Find out more about Renita at www.renitadyoung.com.

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