Published on December 16th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


CNN editor visits Irmo High School, talks to students about finding their voice

Pictured; CNN national desk assistant editor Stephanie Gallman (center) visits Irmo High School, returning to her alma mater to talk with journalism students and members of student government on the importance of following their passions, taking initiative and finding and sharing their perspectives. —

IRMO – Even before it was Stephanie Gallman’s job to play a role in national news, she made national news as reporters interviewed the then high school senior on the cancellation of a popular girls band concert over controversy.

“I can totally hear my 17-year-old self saying, ‘I mean, I think it’s bad that they’re not coming but I’m like three weeks from graduating, so…’ And that was my quote to some national media,” Gallman joked with a group of Irmo High School students gathered to hear her talk on Nov. 24. “Not exactly an example of standing up for what you believe. And now, here I am telling you to stand up for what you believe and to find your voice.”

The CNN national desk assistant editor visited the international arts magnet school to return to her alma mater and talk with journalism students and members of student government on the importance of following their passions, taking initiative and finding and sharing their perspectives.

“Find your voice as quickly as you can, and speak up for it because chances are there is somebody else that feels the same way that you do,” Gallman said. “In the newsroom, it’s tough to be a leader. I lose a lot of battles, but I’m happy to lose a fight knowing that I’ve spoken my piece…As leaders, as high school kids, as college kids; you should feel empowered by having those conversations.”

School officials say the visit by Gallman, a former writer for Irmo High School’s student-led Stinger newsmagazine, will help encourage students to pursue top jobs in their fields and points to the importance of the school’s arts magnet theme.

“Part of our goal with the arts magnet is for students to meet with professionals in a variety of arts fields,” said Irmo High School Principal David Riegel. “It’s something that we’re actively seeking as much as possible to try to make sure that students are connected in a professional setting and have an understanding of what it takes to make it in their chosen career fields.”

Irmo High School Assistant Principal Kaaren Hampton was a classmate of Gallman and also wrote for the Irmo High Stinger. Hampton said, “It was an opportunity for our students to see how you can take multiple avenues, hone your skills in the secondary and collegiate levels and then come back and share what you’ve done with the community and school. It’s a prime example of what we want our students and alumni to do – share what they’ve accomplish and pave an avenue for success for our students.”

During the informal 45-minute discussion with students, Gallman shared the steps she took to become a part of the staff at CNN. After waiting tables and doing odd jobs soon after college graduation, Gallman was hired as a tour guide at CNN and was able to work her way up to the newsroom by taking opportunities as they came her way.

“A lot of it is luck and just being in the right place at the right time, but I truly believe you put yourself in those positions to be lucky,” Gallman said.

Amazing opportunities have come along with her job at CNN. The week before visiting Irmo High School she travelled to Buffalo, N.Y. to cover the snowstorm that gained national attention. Meeting actress Anne Hathaway and nationally acclaimed ballet dancer Misty Copeland and covering national political events also are among the top experiences she says she’s had. And Gallman said her experiences and what she’s been able to do all started with a strong foundation.

“This is a really great school and a great opportunity for you to figure out what makes you tick, and what you like, and what you’re good at…” she said. “Here’s the girl that wasn’t blazing her own trail and just doing what everybody else was doing…I’m telling you to be really true to yourself and what it is that you care about. The sooner you find that out, the better off you will be regardless of what you do.”


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