Ramos Named One of Four PBS Student Reporting Labs Student Journalists of the Year


Courtesy of Student Reporting Labs

Ramos Interviewed Greta Thunberg when she traveled to the DC Climate Strike.

By Morgan Fischer, Dominion High School

On December 31st, Karen Ramos, a senior and four year DHS Press staffer, was named one of the four PBS Student Reporting Labs Student Journalists of the Year for 2019. Ramos has been a part of PBS Student Reporting Labs (SRL) since her sophomore year at Dominion, where she helped to produce Tiny Coders, a feature which made it onto PBS NewsHour that same year. 

“I didn’t know how to feel. It’s obviously very rewarding and I honestly just feel a little shaken up because I just didn’t expect it,” said Ramos about her reacting to finding out. “I’m also very honored for amazing opportunity I have to be recognized.” 

As a part of being honored as one of the PBS Student Journalists of the Year, Ramos will travel to DC to attend the Public Media Education Conference where she, and the other three journalists, will be honored.

Journalism and broadcast teacher Mr. Schwartz said, “I thought it was totally awesome. I was totally blown away by it. It’s totally deserving. She’s worked so hard over the last three years.” 

In 2019, Ramos was one of the 25 fellows from across the country who traveled to DC for the PBS SRL Summer Academy, where she produced a story about a local food program which helps immigrants find amazing jobs as well as featuring one of the chefs named Oscar Leguia. The Summer Academy seemed to be a turning point in Ramos’ path in journalism, “It was really one of the best weeks I think I’ve ever had in my life. I met so many amazing students with amazing talents as well, and they I just learned so much from them.” She added, “It also gave me a chance to really realize my full potential that I have in student journalist and it made me want to set a professional career path in my life.” 

Another honor for Ramos was when she interviewed Greta Thunberg, a youth climate activist who was named the 2019 Time Person of the Year. The interview took place when Thunberg traveled to DC as a part of a climate strike in front of the White House. “She was the first person that I interviewed, who’s known globally for what she does. So I was obviously very nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Ramos said. The interview with Thunberg had an impact on Ramos, “It was an amazing experience. I will never forget it and it has impacted me [and] shaped how I view interviews now with people like that.” 

Ramos has had an impact upon the journalism and broadcast program at Dominion. Mr. Schwartz said, “The work that they [the group of three students who work together on SRL] have done has challenged me to become the type of teacher that they need, because they’re at such a high level and they work so hard and are so dedicated.”

Being a student journalist has had a large influence upon her life. Ramos said, “Its really opened up my eyes to view the world and everything that’s going on around me. It has given me so many opportunities I never would have dreamed of having.” As Ramos explained, “The first piece I’ve ever worked on made it onto the news, PBS NewsHour.” 

SRL Director Elis Estrada said, “She brought a wealth of knowledge and experience with her [Summer Academy] and demonstrated keen reporting and video production skills. During her time with Student Reporting Labs, Karen has always contributed invaluable insights on the importance of youth voice in journalism and we’re thrilled to honor her accomplishments with this award.”

She also explained another opportunity, “We got to interview a Senator Tim Kaine and [his opponent] Cory Stewart. That was really an amazing experience, it was an opportunity that not every normal high school student gets to [do].” Another experience was being a part of panels at national conventions. “[My] favorite part of working with PBS was when we went to the JEA/NSPA National High School journalism convention.” She said of the opportunity, “That was just an amazing opportunity because we got to go to a lot of sessions and listen to real life journalists who [are] doing this as a profession.” 

Ramos, a senior who is going off to college in 2020, plans to continue working in journalism. She said, “That’s the dream and to hopefully become a [professional] journalist one day,” she added, “[I would like to] get to know different broadcasting programs and also broadcasting stations and work with them interning.” 

The Student Press Law Center and the Freedom Forum Institute declared 2019 the year of the student journalist to honor the critical role student reporters play in keeping their communities informed. “I think that for future generations, journalism has to be really important to us because we can’t just do a half job on everything. We [need to] give our 100% all to change that in the future,” Ramos said.

Estrada said, “SRL is proud to work with Dominion High School student journalists and newspaper advisor Mitchell Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz’s broadcast program is committed to the highest of journalistic standards and the work produced by his students is providing a vital service to their school and community.”

This story was originally published on DHS Press on January 23, 2020.