Most students took the summer off from classes trying to make the break as normal as possible due to COVID-19. But University View Academy senior Cecilia Spenser of Baton Rouge immersed herself into one of the most intense learning experiences of her young life. She had to master channeling her usually subdued personality into one charged with energy. “I’m not much of a talker,” she stated flatly.
Cecilia was one of 36 Fellows from across the country selected to be part of an elite group for the 2020 Student Reporting Labs Academy held by the Public Broadcasting System, PBS. Each had to produce a short video on changes in the everyday world forced by the coronavirus. The subject she chose for her video was Telemedicine, where technology enables doctors to consult patients using video-conferencing tools. One result of COVID-19 is fewer in-patient visits to doctors due to quarantine or fear of contracting the virus. Doctors, clinics, and hospitals in Louisiana and across the U.S. report a vast increase in Telemedicine calls. Cecilia’s interview was with Dr. Rani Whitfield who owns a clinic in Baton Rouge. You can watch portions of Cecilia’s report edited into a montage with other student stories HERE.
One significant change the students encountered was the academy itself. Usually, the 2020 fellows would go to Arizona State University in Tempe for face-to-face instruction. Still, in the interest of safety, it became a ten-week online lab. Cecilia confessed that was a disappointment since she would “… honestly prefer the physical version.”
In a series of Zoom Meetings, instructors and the fellows shared ideas on equipment, photography, and audio. For her video, Cecilia used an iPhone. But most important to Cecilia, instructors talked about the art of the interview. “I didn’t know how to set up an interview. Before this, I didn’t know how to conduct an interview very well,” she confessed. Cecilia learned quickly she would have to draw out her personality, as uncomfortable it could be, to engage someone in a fruitful and insightful conversation for her report. “I did get some new skills in interviewing,” she said proudly.
The other students’ videos are HERE. “I think we all did well. I had a lot of fun on that project,” she said proudly.