EMAC gains insight from Katie Couric


EMAC students eagerly wait outside the lecture hall in which they will hear from Katie Couric. Photo by Elizabeth Sims.

EMAC students eagerly wait outside the lecture hall in which they will hear from Katie Couric. Photo by Elizabeth Sims.

By Christina Burke
Staff Writer

One of the many advantages of being in the academies at Coppell High School is being able to take part in extraordinary opportunities that are not available to other students at the school.

In my time with the Emerging Media and Communications (EMAC) Academy, I have had many experiences that are great for a developing journalism student such as myself. My most recent experience was a question and answer session with the experienced journalist, Katie Couric.

Couric’s well-known television career began in 1979 as a ‘low-level’ assistant for ABC news. She has made it all the way from brewing coffee and answering phones to being the first woman to regularly anchor on CBS without a man beside her and even writing a best selling book The Best Advice I Ever Got.

Naturally, she had some pretty good advice for a high school journalism student.

Ironically, many of the EMAC students attending the event had no idea who Katie Couric was. Others had seen her as an inspiration for all their lives. I fell somewhere in the middle. While I was familiar with her work, I was not aware of some of the really cool things she has done and everything she has gone through until after I heard her speak. Despite amounts of prior knowledge about the speaker, I can vouch for everybody when I say that we all took something away from the experience.

A large crowd packed into the conference room to hear Couric speak, but this did not phase her expertise. We sat among students from local high schools such as Dallas Hockaday and Dallas Jesuit along with SMU students and faculty. Couric’s humorous personality helped the shy crowd warm up to her as she took the first questions. With two microphones in the crowd and a twitter feed coming in, Couric delivered her best advice to the room derived from her multitude of experience.

In the moment of this event, I sat trying my hardest to take in everything Couric said about every question she answered, knowing that her wise words of advice could be well applied to my future. Her morals and beliefs were made obvious as she re-iterated similar phrases in similar questions and her personality and professional abilities to speak kept the crowd interested.

I was able to break everything that Couric said down into two categories; advice and experience.

The field of communications is becoming a riskier business to enter into every day. Students who are about to be introduced into the business world of media questioned Couric on how to make it in the big time. Her best advice was to start with a small career out of college and work your way up to the national level. Coming from such a nationally well-known journalist, I found this really interesting to hear. She also reminded us to always be on your toes during a segment because you never know what can happen, in case say, President Bush walked in the room or you are being intimidated by your interviewee, both of which she has experienced. As a sophomore in high school, I can really take her advice in account for my future.

Naturally, questions were asked about Couric’s experiences too. The crowd was interested in the ups, the downs and the hard work in-between. With such a record career in media, she shared about moments that were heart wrenching, joyful, and spiritual. Her wisdom came from experience, and it was captivating to hear even a few of her stories.

Couric shared emotional memories about her coverage on 9/11 and how she continued broadcasting despite the anticipation of wondering what would happen next. She also shared about her most memorable experience: an interview with families of the Columbine High School Shooting in 1999 calling it “almost spiritually moving”. Couric also communicated about her work with organizations like ‘Stand Up 2 Cancer’ where personal experiences inspired her to get involved.

Through all the trials and the extremely hard work, it is amazing all of the interesting people you meet and the extraordinary things that come to you in a good career of journalism. Getting to hear Couric speak was a very interesting experience. It is defiantly something I will never forget.