Wilton Jackson, a junior broadcast journalism major at The University of Southern Mississippi, has been chosen to participate in the USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Program which runs from Jan. 13 – May 9.
The Jackson, Miss., native earned a spot on the 20-person correspondent team after completing two rounds of competitive writing submissions. The program serves as a virtual journalism internship offered in the fall and spring semesters.
“I was so happy and excited. I was smiling from ear-to-ear,” said Jackson. “If it were not for my editors of the Student Printz (Southern Miss student newspaper) and those individuals I interviewed for the second round story, I would not be writing today as a Collegiate Correspondent. I appreciate them as well as everyone else who has pushed and motivated to do great things.”
During the first round applicants are required to submit their resume, GPA and best and most creative clips. Candidates are required to have an extensive amount of experience with print writing, social media or broadcast.
When Jackson was selected to continue on to the second round, he was required to submit an article, along with a sample tweet, to the USA Today College staff based on published piece from the USA Today College or USA Today website.
Jackson will submit a total of 14 stories about a variety of topics that affect college students and could have the opportunity to cover hard news story as well. Aside from writing, he may also be asked to assist other USA Today writers as needed.
“USA TODAY always provides good top quality stories in all categories of news, thus it is truly an honor to be a USA TODAY College Collegiate Correspondent,” Jackson said.
Jackson believes that this experience will better equip him for his future in the journalism field.
“I hope to gain valuable journalism experience in terms of fine tuning my storytelling skills, top notch expertise from world renowned print journalists and learn how to better transition from simply a print journalist to more of the digital journalist surrounded by social media,” Jackson said.
Jackson plans to pursue a job as a sports anchor or digital journalist for a midsize city market, such as Nashville, Charlotte or Memphis. His dream is to work for Sports Center or a sports show affiliated with ESPN.
"I am truly grateful, privileged and honored to be one of 20 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondents,” Jackson said. “I feel this program will give me greater opportunities that will help me to reach my ultimate dreams in life."