From Southwest Virginia to New York City, Olivia Bailey is taking a big leap in the field of communications though she’s had a few large stepping stones along the way.
The 2010 Chilhowie High School graduate is anticipating graduation from Emory & Henry College in May while also working on a master’s degree and preparing for a potential career in communications and leadership.
With no set job in mind, Bailey says she “will end up in a place that respects the community, tells its stories and honors its citizens, holds governments accountable, and cherishes the stories it tells.”
During her years at E&H, Bailey has had the opportunity to work in her field at WCYB-TV in Bristol and CNN in Atlanta. After graduation she is headed to CBS National News in New York City.
Bailey has been a producer and reporter with WCYB-TV since January and served as a news intern and freelance video journalist with the station from May 2012 to January 2013. She went to CNN from June to August 2013 as a newsource intern.
At CBS, Bailey said she will spend nine weeks working with the organization and learning from industry executives. This opportunity comes through the International Radio and Television Society Foundation (IRTS).
“Fifteen students were selected to receive the IRTS Fellowship,” said Brent Treash, assistant director for media relations at E&H. “The schools represented in this year’s class include Stanford University, University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, M.I.T, and Tufts University. Often referred to as a ‘media boot camp,’ this highly selective program teaches a talented group of up-and-coming communicators the realities of the business world through an all-expense-paid internship in New York City, which includes practical experience and career-planning advice.”
The program, said Treash, includes a one-week orientation in broadcasting, cable, advertising, and interactive media. Fellows have the opportunity to question industry professionals during panels, lectures and group discussions. They also take related field trips and attend industry social functions to learn career planning, networking and interviewing skills.
“Bailey’s early career climb has been impressive,” Treash said, “but she is quick to point out that it was a journey that included significant support from the Emory & Henry College faculty and staff.”
“Emory & Henry is built upon the strength of the faculty,” said Bailey. “The professors here have believed in me since before day one.”
But E&H wasn’t Bailey’s first choice for college.
“E&H was actually the last college I wanted to attend,” she said. “Because I was local, I wanted to get out. I was actually planning on attending Carson-Newman before I was encouraged to visit E&H. I came to the college for an official visit on a winter day. There was probably an inch or two of snow on the ground, and I was scheduled to visit three different classes to see how the curriculum operated and what students thought. The professors were walking me from the classes in the snow, and dedicated time for students to talk about their experiences. I felt like a priority. It felt like a family. That's when I decided I was coming here, and I haven't looked back since.”
Bailey became immediately involved in campus media programs. She has been editor-in-chief of The Whitetopper campus newspaper since May 2012, co-host of EHC-TV campus television station since September 2010, and news and sports reporter and board operator with WEHC 90.7 radio station since April 2012.
She has had many interesting and exciting stories to cover with all these media outlets, but her favorites include stories with WCYB-TV and The Whitetopper.
“My most exciting story was probably the first that I was let loose at WCYB,” Bailey said. “I was an intern with the station, and I was shadowing a reporter and videographer. We were about to bring the story back to the station when two homes were in flames in Russell County. The reporter stayed back at the station to finish her previous stories, and the videographer and I headed to grab video and interviews at those locations. While I could feel the empathy of those families, the adrenaline was rushing. I keep that in mind every time I go out on a story.”
She had another exhilarating experience with her college newspaper.
“We broke a story on the NCAA investigation happening at Emory & Henry. I was able to work with a couple of reporters and editors on that story in a leadership role,” Bailey said. “To date, that's probably been the most collaboration and best journalism I've been a part of. My writers and editors were thorough, honest, and direct with the process that we had to go through to verify facts and ensure we were telling the story correctly. I felt honored to be associated with those students presenting that article.”
Bailey said there are many incidences like this that have shaped her interest in communications.
“Reporting helps me capture and maintain little moments in time,” she said. “I love hearing people's stories. I see it as a real honor to be trusted with people's personal lives, accomplishments, and tragedies. Sometimes it is difficult to tell someone's true story in a minute and a half or two minutes, but I always give it my best effort. If I am ever in a place where I become complacent with telling the life stories of people, a change will need to be made.”
Bailey has also had some international experience in helping people firsthand. She went to Ireland in the fall of 2013 through E&H’s Public Policy & Community service program and a partner, IPSL.
“While I was there, I performed almost 300 hours of community service with an organization called Jobcare,” she said. “The organization is based out of Dublin. They assist people with getting resources to get back into employment or education. The unemployment rate is still at double-digits, even though Ireland has somewhat successfully exited their depression. I worked with people on social networking, interview preparation, and job training skills. I was a facilitator for their Jobnet programme, where they work with unemployed professionals. I was alongside some Microsoft HR people and career coaches in that position.”
“Going to Ireland was a chance for me to see a multicultural city in action,” Bailey said. “Since the Celtic Tiger era, Ireland has seen tons of nationalities moving into the country. At any given time, I could hear over 10 languages and dialects on public transportation. I needed that time to explore what it was like to live in a community outside of my own.”