Annual journalism boot camp inspires students

Breauna Johnson

Contributing Writer

When you think of a boot camp you think of working out your body, struggling in the mud and rain to become stronger for your future goals. Where Professor Jennifer Shapiro’s Journalism Boot Camp has an absence of running in the rain and mud, there is an ambition to help get aspiring communications students’ goals into shape.

“Hearing about a career from someone actually in that profession is priceless, and I am glad I get to do that for our students,” said Shapiro and for the past 14 years she has been doing just that. On Feb. 7 at the Tigertail Lake Recreation Center, more than 20 students gathered for the 14th annual Journalism Boot Camp to gain insight into the landscape of their job field.

“I like the fact that students really learn about different aspects of journalism from professionals in the field and have the chance to network with these professionals, which is invaluable,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro takes her career experience and connections to enlist a range of speakers to showcase the diversity of options in communications each year.

Speakers included features editor Gretchen Day-Bryant and entertainment reporter Philip Valys from the Sun-Sentinel, WLRN radio news reporter Madeline Fox, University of Florida’s Katrice Graham from their journalism department and Marielle Kunhardt a public relations representative of CHG Healthcare.

Kunhardt has been a repeat speaker for the Boot Camp for the past seven years and has seen the event as an opportunity to improve the occupation and describes PR as a constantly evolving environment.

“I’m really passionate about what I do and want to share that with other people to help inform them and advance the field,” Kunhardt said

Kunhardt doesn’t limit the Boot Camp to just communications majors and feels that any student looking for a detailed map into pursuing their career plan can benefit from the event.

“One of the things I hope people come away with is goal setting, to get them to think about what they want for their future and how to get there,” Kunhardt said.

Ana Cordovi, who attended the bootcamp, was happy with the variety of speakers.

“There was a lot of information given for people to be informed based on their own goals,” Cordovi said.

Cordovi liked that in one place the steps that she needed to follow were explained by people that have been in her position as well.

After hearing about UF, Cordovi plans to follow up with Graham and apply after receiving her Associates degree from Broward College.

At a previous Boot Camp, a previous student of Shapiro’s was able to network and earned an internship at Miami’s Ocean Drive Magazine where she was able to build her resume and gained experience.

The Observer also invites speakers to their weekly meetings each Friday at 11: 30 a.m. Please contact Shapiro at for the workshop schedule for this semester, to attend a future boot camp or for more information.


Madeline Fox from WLRN talks to students about her day-to-day covering Palm Beach at WLRN.      Thandie Brown/The Observer