by Vayne Ong and Katherine Powell, Class of 2020
In 2015, when we participated in the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program (SJP) as rising seniors in high school, we did not think we had what it took to come to Princeton; we couldn’t picture ourselves measuring up to our peers, never mind affording the cost of an Ivy League education.
But today, we are about to begin our sophomore years at Princeton. And we just finished our first summer internships, returning to the Summer Journalism Program as program coordinators through the alumni-founded and funded organization Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS).
Every summer since 2002, SJP has brought a cohort of outstanding rising seniors from diverse backgrounds onto campus for 10 days of rigorous learning, writing and reporting. After the program, students are paired with SJP counselors, who serve as advisers throughout the college admissions process. This year, the program brought together its biggest class yet — 39 students — all from first-generation and low-income backgrounds.
The program was founded 16 years ago by four alumni from the Class of 2001: Richard Just, Gregory Mancini, Michael Koike and Rich Tucker. Just, a two-time PICS intern himself, hired an intern through PICS to help plan the summer journalism program. For this first time last year, the program hired two interns. To this day, the rest of the program is staffed by volunteers — journalists who want to see more diverse newsrooms, college students, and program alumni who want to return and give back. Its two main goals are: to get a new generation of intelligent young minds excited about journalism, and to increase access to higher education. The hope is that students will go home with a reinvigorated passion for journalism and with the knowledge that they can both afford and thrive at rigorous liberal arts institutions like Princeton.
SJP is the one of the main reasons the two of us are here at Princeton today.