Essay wins a day with a role model

January 03, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

The October day Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant was released by his Somalian captors was the day Columbia resident Joanna Bush had her brush with fame.

It came in the form of Cokie Roberts, ABC journalist and National Public Radio broadcaster, with whom Joanna spent an entire day at work.

The 17-year-old Wilde Lake High School junior was one of 22 Baltimore-Washington area students who won an essay contest in which the prize was spending a day with a role model.

The department store Woodward & Lothrop and a Washington, D.C., television station sponsored the contest, offering students a list of national figures as role models to choose from.

Joanna picked Ms. Roberts over White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and David Jenkins, an assistant director at the National Zoo, even though Joanna has an interest in government and animals.

"I see her a lot on TV. My father and I always watch Sunday morning news," she says. "She seemed to be the perfect woman for me to follow." In her winning essay, Joanna wrote that Ms. Roberts' "ability to raise two children, maintain her marriage, and achieve her career goals represented a tremendous achievement. Obviously, she has her priorities in order."

When Joanna arrived at ABC studios in Washington, D.C., for her visit with Ms. Roberts on Oct. 14, makeup artists were preparing the journalist to go on-air. Ms. Roberts gave an analysis of President Clinton's handling of the Somalian conflict.

Joanna got to sit in on a taping of an ABC newscast and took a tour of the studio, including the network's videotape libraries. She says she even got to shake Sam Donaldson's hand.

Ms. Roberts "was down to earth," Joanna says. "When we walked around, she was always looking out for me. She kept turning around and asking how I was. She was a very caring person."

Joanna was surprised at the number of behind-the-scenes people it takes to put on a network news show. She said there are numerous researchers, librarians and others "doing hard work every day."

"I like journalism," says Joanna, who draws editorial cartoons for the Paw Print, her school's newspaper. "I don't know if it would be TV, or newspaper, or magazine."

Joanna said she learned a lot from her one-day visit with Ms. Roberts.

"It was really important to me that she took the time to invite somebody in who's making decisions about the future and to give [them] encouragement," Joanna said. "It really helps us who are going to college and looking at possible careers."

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