My childhood heroes are now my peers

From a young age, I grew up in the world of media. My parents own a video production company in Denver, and I was always dragged in to help, whether it was being in a shot smelling flowers for the Garden and Home show or helping set up lights in a shoot with Governor Hickenlooper.

As a kid, I usually chose to wake up to the Today Show instead of watching cartoons like most other kids my age. As all of us probably did at some point, I had to present current events in elementary school but would always end with a question about the story trying to engage my audience and get them interested in the news.

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So naturally, I went into journalism as an incoming freshman at CSU and was involved in CTV before the year even began. This turned into an incredible opportunity, launching me into the field I have dreamed about since childhood.

Over my journalism career at CSU, I have interviewed some incredible people including the former governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, and Lee Daniels, the director of the movie Precious. I also had the chance to cover Condoleezza Rice’s speech.

However, last fall, I experienced the greatest moment of my career thus far when President Obama came to campus and we did live coverage from the event. We prepared for a week, working on stories specific to his campaign.

If you didn’t watch our coverage, or don’t even know what I’m talking about when I mention CTV, Dillon Thomas, my co-anchor, and I, along with support from other reporters in the field and in the studio, went live from the scene of the speech.

We expected to run our show first and President Obama’s speech would cap it all off, but it being live TV and having to constantly be on our toes, President Obama showed up first, and we ran with it.

This experience was incredible in the fact that Dillon and I had bullet points to cover in our time on camera, but were otherwise free to say what we wanted. In the excitement we had a few slip ups including crowd surfing babies and memory lapses on first grade level words, myself included.

Despite the blood, sweat and tears that came out of planning and producing the show, it was all worth it when we were nominated for an Emmy.

On Saturday, my co-anchor and producer went to the award gala for the Heartland Emmys hoping for the best. And although we left trophy-less, the greatest part of the night was being nominated for something my childhood heroes were also up for.

Already having an internship at 9NEWS in Denver last summer, I thought I was over the initial shock of seeing Adele Arakawa and Mark Koebrich walking around. But this feeling was a different one than being star struck. I felt as if I had become a peer journalist — obviously not up there with Adele and Mark, but at least some of the reporters at the award gala.

The Heartland Emmy chapter inducts a few people in the industry that have made significant contributions every year into the silver circle. Arakawa was an inductee this year, and along with the plaque comes a video of their history. And she, like everyone, started small and worked her way up.

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Working up to the top is part of the journey to becoming the best. Maybe one day I will be awarded and a college student will look to me in aspiration.

With Denver being the 17th most-watched news market in the nation, being recognized on the same screen with that high of quality of work gave me a boost of confidence that is just another reason to become the best.

Content producer Katie Spencer can be reached at news@collegian.com.