This summer, 26 high school students will take part in the Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement, an intensive, three-week academy designed to expose students to media, technology, communications, journalism, civic engagement and their impact in our society today.
The program aims to expose high-school students from the communities surrounding USC's University Park and Health Sciences campuses, including South L.A., East L.A. and Boyle Heights, to the resources and potential career paths available right in their own backyards.
"I am excited about the Annenberg Youth Academy because it will offer young people from our community an opportunity to engage with one another in meaningful, rich ways, and enable them to participate in the creation of stories and multimedia about themselves, their communities, and issues that matter to them," said Taj Frazier, the co-director of the Annenberg Youth Academy and director of the Institute for Diversity and Empowerment at Annenberg (IDEA).
For Jaime Carias, who co-directs the academy with Frazier, his own upbringing motivated his work on the program. Born and raised in South L.A. just two miles from USC, he would often walk through the University Park campus with dreams of someday attending the school, but lacking the resources that would have pushed him to pursue those dreams.
"I wish that somebody would have exposed me to this [kind of program] when I was growing up in South Los Angeles," said Carias, Civic Engagement Coordinator at USC Annenberg. "I wish somebody would've told me that I could have the power to tell those stories of my community, of my people, of myself in a very tangible and real way. This is what motivates me: to provide opportunities for young people to tell the stories of their communities and of themselves."
Annenberg Youth Academy focuses on strengthening students' skills in writing, critical thinking, public speaking and debate, multimedia production, interviewing, and ethnography so they have the competencies required for excellence in and out of the classroom in the 21st century.
Taking the equivalent of first-year college level courses, these students will attend three classes per day: the first is dedicated to communication and civic engagement, the second to journalism, and the third to featuring guest lecturers and workshops hosted by USC Annenberg faculty members and industry professionals.
Carias sees the program as an incubator for young talented minds from nearby communities.
"Our goal is to develop a deeper relationship with this cohort of students, really follow them over the next year or two of their high school careers," Carias said. "My hope is that their experiences are memorable, and that they decide to apply to a communication and journalism school, ideally to USC Annenberg."
Frazier has similar hopes for the program.
"Of central concern to us is fulfilling the USC Annenberg mission of expanding our relationships, partnerships and service efforts with local institutions, and making our fabulous resources available to those who can best benefit from them and learn from them," Frazier said. "Annenberg Youth Academy is one of many steps in this direction."
For information on how to apply to the Annenberg Youth Academy, click here.