Haddonfield Memorial High School student wins WHYY Youth Media Award

WHYY winner

Following a dream or passion can be hard for someone to pursue if time or effort isn’t put into it. One young Haddonfield resident fed her passion by going to the WHYY Young Journalist Camp, and was rewarded for all of her hard work.

Haddonfield Memorial High School senior Ana Axmann was one of a group of young aspiring journalists to win a WHYY Youth Media Award. Axmann, along with her group made up of Paul Liermann, Joshua DeSouza and Sruthi Srinivasan from the WHYY Young Journalist Camp, received first place in the News Report Category for their coverage of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in “National Veterans Wheelchair Games Comes to Philly.”

“It was completely unexpected. I didn’t even know that WHYY had this ceremony and competition for teens, but it was also the best surprise,” Axmann said.

Axmann went to the WHYY Young Journalist Camp in 2014 because she had an interest in journalism and writing. For the camp, the attendees worked in a group, chose a topic of interest and reported on it. Axmann’s group decided to cover the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Philadelphia, as a member of the group knew someone who worked behind the scenes of the games.

“We were able to get passes inside and speak to a diverse group of veterans and volunteers,”Axmann said.

Though Axmann was nervous, she volunteered to come to the forefront of the camera and do some interviews and speak to viewers. Her favorite part was meeting Doris Meryl, who has a positive outlook on life despite being paralyzed from the waist down. She also said it was hard to choose what to include and not include; she would’ve liked to create a whole documentary on the event itself.

“We met this woman named Doris Meryl who was the sweetest woman you could ever meet. She had the best attitude and had an atmosphere of positivity around her. She told us that she was paralyzed from the legs down, but that didn’t stop her from using the rest of her body to its full potential. She never regretted her accident and says it only opened a door to even more possibilities and opportunities to meet people. We were able to get an interview with her and see her receive an award there. It was the most moving moments while reporting at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games,” Axmann said.

A year went by, and this fall, Axmann received an email saying she and her group were a winner for the WHYY Youth Media Awards, which recognizes the best film productions from students in grades six to 12. There are several categories for documentary, news report, narrative and open. When she got the email, she said she was screaming in happiness.

“It was the most surreal feeling. Since we made the newscast in 2013, I had nearly forgotten about it. Then hearing that it had been nominated in the Youth Media Awards was completely unexpected, but also pretty awesome,” Axmann said.

WHYY in Philadelphia held a screening for those winners of the Youth Media Awards, all of them either coming in first, second or third place. There were 18 film productions screened and each had something different to offer. According to Axmann, some made you laugh, some made you scared, some made you sad and some made you think. You can check out the videos at www.whyy.org/hamiltoncommons/yma2015.php. At the ceremony, Axmann and her group were named first place.

“After seeing all the videos that were nominated, I saw how much work, creativity and emotion you can create through the camera lenses,” Axmann said.

Axmann is focusing on college and getting more journalistic experience under her belt. She really would love to learn about the writing that goes on behind the scenes in the newsroom, but would also love to take a class to learn more about the mechanics of filmmaking.

Whether Axmann will continue to work in front of the camera or behind the scenes is not determined just yet. However, she recommends those who are interested in pursuing a career to do so and get experience when and where you can in what you like.

“Pursue whatever you’re interested in. It doesn’t matter if you continue with it in college or even in the real world. Have as much experience as you can and exploring your interests can, only make you more well rounded,” Axmann said.