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West student in leadership program
CNN session aims to challenge, inspire
Madison Chilton, a rising senior at West Forsyth High, joined dozens of other Georgia students as a part of the Leadership Unplugged experience at CNN. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

A West Forsyth student was among the 75 Georgia high school scholars selected for this year’s Leadership Unplugged experience at CNN.

“I applied for this internship through a recommendation by my U.S. history teacher at school,” said Madison Chilton, a rising senior. “She thought it would be a great experience for me and a great way to broaden my leadership skills.”

Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience included a weeklong series of training sessions to teach the students the ins and outs of media skills.

It aimed to enhance their leadership abilities and offer an inside look at what the media professionals at CNN do.

The students lived last week on the Georgia Institute of Technology campus, where they participated in discussions and workshops.

Prissy Stewart, assistant director, said the most beneficial aspect of the program may be “the connections that the students are able to make.” 

“In addition to the volunteers from all areas from CNN, who share stories of their careers, education and experience, the students also connect with young people from across the state,” she said.

“They learn how to work with other students with backgrounds, experiences and points of view that may be very different from their own.”

CNN staff members have designed a curriculum that gives the students a chance to focus on learning about topics ranging from ethics in the media to production. Participants can learn and experience what broadcast journalism is all about.

“I have really enjoyed listening to all the panels’ points of views and seeing every aspect of how this program is operated,” Chilton said.

“I hope to study internal affairs at Georgia Tech in the future, so this is a great opportunity to get ahead and see what it is all about.”

According to Stewart, the students “leave having gained an understanding of what it means in broadcasting to take a story from an idea to production and a sense of themselves as leaders of the future.”

“Many students tell us that before our program they did not see themselves as leaders,” she said. “We hope to inspire them to take on new challenges as leaders.”