Before I made it into the ThreeSixty Journalism broadcast studio, a burst of energy flew into the hall.
It was Bri Bergin, the Southwest High School student I was scheduled to talk with. She told me she was feeling tired. It was still early for any teeanger– 11 a.m.
“I'm not a morning person,” Bergin told me, with great enthusiasm.
We were technically at the University of St. Thomas, home of the ThreeSixty Journalism program, which works with diverse high schoolers to help them tell stories about their lives and communities. The program offers an array of media camps including online and magazine writing, broadcast journalism, and digital media arts.
Bergin was waiting for a turn to record her broadcast script for a story she wrote during a one-week intensive TV broadcast camp in July. The day before, she interviewed her source, a medical director, on camera. While she waited to record in the studio, we chatted about what motivated her to join the broadcast camp.
“My dad, Daniel Bergin, works at TPT, so he knows a lot of the people,” the younger Bergin explained. “He was kind of in the know about it.”
Bergin said she was interested in the camp because of her aunt, Lea B. Olsen.
“She does broadcasting for the Lynx,” Bergin told me. Broadcast news runs in her family, to say the least. Both Daniel Bergin and Lea B. Olsen are Black broadcasting superstars in their own right, but Bergin doesn’t need that backing when she is at ThreeSixty Journalism camp. She didn’t tell people at camp who her family was.
Nonetheless, her skills were hard to miss. A big part of the student program includes working with mentors in the journalism industry, like former MPR producer and reporter Marianne Combs, now the news director for BLCK Press.
“You have got talent,” Combs said to Bergin in the recording studio a few minutes later.
The day prior, Bergin worked with “Ms. Brittney,” Brittney Ermon, her reporting coach from KSTP-TV.
“So it was really interesting, you know, a black woman comes in and she's like a veteran,” Bergin said. “She's been in the community. She's been doing this for years. And she told me, ‘I get tired too.’ Because I'm just doing one story the whole week. They do two stories a day. Yesterday I was exhausted, I had to write the story I had to film, you know, the interview. And it was, it was a lot, but she definitely helped me a lot through it.”
Bergin is in an advanced camp so everyone who completes this camp qualifies for a four-year scholarship to study emerging media at the University of St. Thomas. ThreeSixty Journalism helps the students fill out the scholarship forms as well.
According to ThreeSixty Journalism’s program manager, Theresa Malloy, there are currently 13 program alumni working in the Twin Cities newsrooms.
“We really get to be part of their journey,” Malloy said. “Bri is at the beginning of her career. If she continues to do journalism or story telling, we get to see her into her job.”
Bergin told me she thought about going to college in California because she has a lot of family out there, but her parents want her to stay in the state.
“I would definitely be considering St. Thomas,” Bergin said, after her experiences at the camps. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot about how the working environment feels.” Tommie Media is the university’s student news organization where Bergin could continue her work outside of journalism classes.
For her ThreeSixty Journalism broadcast story, Bergin interviewed Dr. Nathan Tseboh Chomilo, the Medicaid Medical Director at State of Minnesota and Pediatrician at Park Nicollet. The story is about Dr. Chomilo’s work in addressing how racism discrimination impacts mental health, especially with kids.
“He is a black male with immigrant parents. And so it was a really unique perspective to see a black doctor. Because I looked at the statistics, I was just curious,” Bergin said. “There is like a 1 in 15 chance of getting a black male doctor, as a patient. And that is like, insane. I don't think I've ever had black nurses, I've never had a black female doctor or male doctor, in my experience in the healthcare system.”
Bri Bergin’s story is published on ThreeSixty Journalism’s YouTube along with all the other stories from the broadcast camp. The stories also aired on Black Music America Cable Channel on Aug. 13
ThreeSixty Journalism is a partnership program with Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.