Lexi Whitehead

Pathway to the Helping Professions:
Helping students help others

All the chairs were pushed to the side of the classroom, with two long tables in the center that made a T shape. The tables were haphazardly covered with magazines and 10 students were spread out around them. Some sat on the floor surrounded by their own magazine clippings, some relaxed in chairs, and some flipped through the magazines.

Students choose from an array of magazine clippings to use to express themselves. — Photo by Lexi Whitehead

They were making collages and were all very focused, consumed by their work. It was silent in the room except for atmospheric ambient music playing accompanied by scissors cutting and paper ripping. It wasn’t the Studio Art class. It was Pathway to the Helping Professions, taught by Dr. Jane Newell. 

Newell is the is the Director of Social Work for Undergraduates, which also includes Family Sciences. The Pathway to Helping Professions is an explorations module. “Helping Professions” is a broad term, including things like social work, family science, psychology, teaching, therapy, and more careers focus on helping others. However, Newell prefers the phrase “empowering others.”

“People are more remarkable than we give them credit for.”

Leona Peny lays out her collage on the floor. — Photo by Lexi Whitehead

Students in this module had hands-on experience in different professions on the several field trips they took. For example, they went to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House. They also focused on building relationships with each other and learning together, instead of being talked at by a teacher. Alejandra Aviles, a student from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, stated that “it doesn’t feel like a class” and described Newell as a good friend rather than a teacher.

Newell’s favorite part of the class was watching the students discover themselves, which is what the collage is all about. When a student had a question, she said, “You can do anything you want. It’s your self-expression so feel free.” She didn’t interfere with them at all and left them space for their own discovery. She said the collage was about finding meaning in things and described it as a subconscious experience.

Pilar Aguilar assembles a heart-shaped collage.  –Photo by Lexi Whitehead

She hoped that when they finished, they would have learned something about themselves. They also explored themselves through journaling and talking about their emotions/thoughts. “People who are drawn to the helping professions are people who want to help others and make the world a better place,” explains Newell. The better students understand themselves, the better they can help others.

Newell has faith in her students and the things they will accomplish. “This is the future,” she declares. 


Anthony Schilt: Working his way up

Anthony Schilt, left, oversees front-end operations at a Dublin, Ohio, Kroger store. — Contributed photo

When Anthony Schilt was a freshman, he got his first job as a bagger at Kroger. As a 16-year-old going into his senior year (he skipped kindergarten), he still works at Kroger, only now as a supervisor. He started working for the same reason most high schoolers do: he just wanted a job. He hated being a bagger and thought of it as “boring,” but his high hopes convinced him to stay. “When I was a bagger, my friend Matt worked there and he was in the position below where I’m at now… and I envisioned myself in that position, I told myself I could get there.” And he did.

Schilt is now a front-end lead at Kroger, which means he is the leader of courtesy clerks and cashiers; he makes sure they do their jobs and get their breaks. He also works at the customer service desk. Typically, employees have to be 18 to work in this position but Schilt’s boss makes exceptions. He emphasized the fact that he is the only 16-year-old supervisor at his job, but also made it clear he likes more than the title. “My goal now that I’m a supervisor: I try to make it better for (the baggers) because I know how I felt when I was in that position.”

Schilt’s favorite thing about his job is the leadership experience. “I like being a leader, I think that fits my personality and I like being able to reward people for doing a good job,” he said. He rewards employees with $3-off coupons for anything in the store, which they can save up. If he thinks they’re doing a really good job, he will recommend them to his boss for a promotion. Schilt’s commitment to work hampers his ability to participate in lots of extracurriculars but he also plays hockey and serves as an officer of the Spanish club at his school in Dublin, Ohio.

Titi Ekunsamni: Living a music fan’s dream

Panic! at the Disco, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Twenty One Pilots aren’t just big names in the music industry. They’re also the names of a few artists that Titilayo “Titi” Ekunsamni has seen in concert. As a 16-year-old rising junior, Ekunsamni has been to more concerts than most people have been to in their lives. Right now, she has at least 30 under her belt. She tries to go to at least one concert per month and has seen multiple artists more than once. Although she lives in Rockhill, South Carolina, most of the concerts she attends are in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Titi Ekunsamni, right, joins her sister, Tope, at Melt! Festival on her Make-A-Wish trip to Germany. — Contributed photo

Ekunsamni discovered her passion for concert-going through her older sister. In January 2016, Ekunsamni was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer. At the time, her older sister had been going to many concerts. The doctor OK’d concerts, so Ekunsamni went. It was one of her only chances to get out of the house between treatments. She started attending concerts and quickly fell in love with the scene. Now that she has had no evidence of disease for over a year, she can enjoy going to concerts more frequently.

Ekunsamni says she likes going to indie-alternative concerts because that’s her favorite genre plus they’re cheaper and have smaller venues, which means she can get in the pit. The pit is the front and center, where most of the jumping and pushing occurs.The best concert she’s been to is Glass Animals at Melt! Festival in Germany. She also mentioned seeing Chase Atlantic, where she crowd-surfed and jumped so much that she almost passed out.

She thinks it’s fun to talk to new people while waiting in line, especially if it’s a concert she is attending alone, which she’s started doing recently. “You don’t have to know anybody. You can just be best friends for one night,” she says. The fact that people are protective and hospitable to strangers is her favorite part of concerts.

Up next, She will attend the final Warped Tour in Charlotte only three days after leaving Miami University. 

Ellie Yemm: ‘Oh, by the way, I’m deaf.’

When Ellinor “Ellie” Yemm was born, the doctors told her parents that she passed her hearing test, as most babies do. But when her parents took her home, her dad noticed that she was unresponsive to sound. After weeks of fighting, doctors agreed to re-test her and Yemm was diagnosed as deaf.

Yemm’s first language is American Sign Language. Before she was 2 years old, she was communicating with her parents with the little vocabulary that she had. When she 15 months old, she had her first surgery. “I don’t remember anything from the surgery, but I do remember waking up the next day with a huge bandage around my my head and I was terrified,” she said.

Ellie Yemm signs the word “friends.” — Photo by Lexi Whitehead

The doctors had cut behind Yemm’s right ear and put two wires into her cochlea, the part of the ear associated with hearing, and a magnet on the top of her head. After her surgery healed and the stitches came out, it was time to test her processor.

She recalled this day saying, “The first words that I did hear were ‘I love you’ from my mom and she was crying, she was sobbing because I reacted and I smiled at her when she said it.” She remembers pointing at her mom’s mouth, realizing that’s where the sound was coming. She started speaking about three months later. Two years after her first surgery, Yemm had a second and she could finally hear clearly.

After Yemm could hear, her family dropped sign language and focused on teaching her to speak English. She recently picked up sign language again and although she isn’t fluent, she can easily hold a conversation.

Yemm, 16, is the only deaf person at her school in Nashville, Tennessee. She has always embraced her deafness and tells people she is deaf the first time she meets them. So, it was shocking to her when she started talking to some deaf people online and they told her that they struggle with telling people about it and had been bullied. This led her to begin spreading awareness and educating people on deafness by being open to any questions they might have.

Media Matters: Finding myself
in the world of journalism

When I took the ACT and had to select a required major, it sparked a realization that I want to pursue journalism as a career. These past two weeks have only strengthened that by exposing me to the different types of journalism.

I never realized how many different career paths that journalism had to offer. I could work for a magazine, newspaper, news station, or radio station. It was great to see so many options because now I know where I can imagine myself, but also if that doesn’t work out for me, I can do something else.

Media Matters students visit The Miami Student newsroom. — Photo by Patricia Gallagher Newberry

I was shocked to hear that a lot of cuts are being made in print because people get most of their news from social media. This obviously makes sense but it’s not something people think about outside the world of journalism. Now, creativity is needed to write stories and think of new ways to profit. I learned that magazines and newspapers are very different. Magazines are planned out in advance while newspaper writers work at a faster pace. This means magazine writers always have put a twist in their stories to keep them relevant.

Media Matters students visit WCPO-TV on a field trip to Cincinnati. — Photo by Lexi Whitehead

Although I’m not as interested in broadcast journalism, it was interesting to see the studios where TV stories are  made. Broadcast journalism is shorter and more concise. A story might be told in only 2 minutes. Since not much contextual details are given, they use sound bytes on radio and visuals on TV to transport the reader into the story.

The thing I took away most from my two weeks here is that journalists have to take initiative and connections.

Initiative is needed to stay updated on the news, find your story, and follow it. You have to rely on yourself to make phone calls, go on interviews, and write on a deadline.

If you have good connections, it is easier to get sources and information. For example, when Bethany Bruner worked in Newark, Ohio, she knew the names of every person in the police department, which made it easier for her to get the information she needed.

My favorite piece of advice I heard this week, though, was from Dr. Richard Campbell, outgoing chair of Miami’s Department of Media, Journalism & Film: “If you’re good at writing, do writing.” This quote, as well as my experience here in Media Matters, gives me hope for my future in journalism, where I now see myself being a reporter for a magazine.

About the author

Lexi Whitehead explores Washington Park on the Media Matters trip to Cincinnati. –Photo by Lydia Mandell

Alexandra “Lexi” Whitehead, 17, is from Toledo, Ohio. She will be a senior this fall at Springfield High School. At Springfield, Whitehead participates in theater, varsity soccer and National Honor Society. She is excited to serve on the leadership team for her drama club, and as a student director for the winter one act, Check, Please. Outside of school, she is active in Venturing Crew, a co-ed branch of the Boy Scouts of America. Whitehead is the president of her crew and has traveled to three of the Boy Scouts high-adventure bases, earning her the Triple Crown award. Her favorite subject in school has always been English because she loves reading and writing. In her freshman year, Whitehead won first place in the Ohio High School Poetry Contest. She chose to participate in Summer Scholars to learn more about journalistic writing, in hopes that it will become a part of her future career.