By Brian Howard
Florida A&M University (FAMU) student Maya Ellison has always loved journalism and sports.
Ellison, a sophomore broadcast journalism student from Stone Mountain, Ga., just recently began an internship with the Orlando Sentinel.
The Orlando Sentinel, founded in 1876 and sold to the Tribune Company of Chicago in 1965, is located in Orlando, Fla. Some of the more notable newspapers the Tribune Company owns are The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and The New York Daily News.
Ellison, who’s official first day at the internship was on Oct. 6, was assigned by sports content director Iliana Limón Romero to be the beat writer for Florida State and Florida A&M. This was mainly in based on location, and that most of the sports staff is based in Orlando, Ellison said.
The journey to land the internship began in elementary school as Ellison worked on a TV show. She continued to expand on her skills, which included some work in sports, while attending Mountain High School Academy in Lithonia, Ga.
“The high school was a STEM school and I chose the communications route because I had been doing it for a while,” said Ellison.
During her junior and senior year in high school, Ellison began working on a documentary called “Buck the Ram.” The documentary centered around the football team’s quest to win a state championship.
“It was a great experience because I was able to talk to coaches, players and administrators throughout the season,” said Ellison. “That’s when I really got a true feel for sports and where I belong.”
Ellison, whose father Ron attended FAMU from 1978-1982 and played for the Rattler baseball team, earned an internship with CNN after graduating Mountain High School Academy.
“Maya is one of the most outstanding School of Journalism & Graphic Communication majors from the 2019 freshman class,” said Bettye Grable, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication. “She came to college with CNN News source service experience as an Atlanta-area FAMU recruit.”
During her freshman year at FAMU, Ellison worked sporting events and continued to network.
“I reached out to those in the business to seek advice and get my foot in the door, whether it was shooting video or writing stories for the FAMUAN,” Ellison said.
One of the biggest adjustments Ellison has had to endure, along with many college beat reporters, is watching and participating in virtual press conferences.
Ellison gave kudos to Florida State with the way they’ve handle to the COVID rules and regulations.
“They’ve been really strict when it comes to media credentials but have done a great job in maintaining social distancing in the pressbox,” said Ellison. “Due to the virus, we have to stay in the pressbox and can’t take our masks off, while postgame interviews are conducted through Zoom.”
Ellison, who is aspiring to be like her role model and former ESPN anchor Josina Anderson, gave some advice for women who are looking to become sports journalists.
“You have to be ready to prove yourself,” said Ellison. “The women I see in sports, especially in journalism, have worked hard to get to where they are. It is a male-driven field and you are talking about sports 24/7 with a mostly male audience. You have to continue to believe and continue to shine during each opportunity.”