Chevening Scholar Andrea Chisholm living lifelong dream at BBCWednesday, October 13, 2021
AS a pre-teen growing up in Portland, Jamaica, the words: “BBC News with Marion Marshall”, accompanied by a sweet-sounding voice at the end of a radio newscast, was Andrea Chisholm's cue to leave home in the mornings for primary school.
As she grew older the content piqued her interest, and by the time she got into journalism she was, admittedly, addicted to the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC).
Fast-forward to 2021 and the two-time Jamaican Journalist of the Year-turned Chevening Scholar has completed her master's in media and communication governance in the United Kingdom but isn't on her way home just yet. Instead, she has secured a slot in the prestigious Chevening/BBC World Service Group Professional Placement Programme.
The 3.5 months-long highly competitive placement programme is for Chevening scholars pursuing media-related courses, or those with experience in journalism. Around 10 Chevening scholars are selected annually. The process for acceptance included essays, critiques of previous BBC work and interviews.
Chisholm noted that she was in a session with one of her professors and classmates when she received the email confirming the BBC placement.
“I had to convert my ear-to-ear grin into a simple smile and act professional. After the Zoom call I said my prayer of thanksgiving, jumped on my bed for a few seconds, responded to the e-mail, and informed my immediate family and a few close friends,” she beamed.
“Working and receiving training at the BBC has been a lifelong dream, and the experience so far has been fantastic. It began with one week of intense training with a cadre of highly accomplished professionals at the BBC Academy. I'm now based at BBC's headquarters in London,” added Chisholm.
“From the moment I entered the building I concluded there was no room for complacency. I've had to quickly adapt to their systems. It's an amazing feeling working alongside, and learning from some of the BBC journalists I've admired over the years. They're very easy to talk to, extremely accommodating, always willing to explain or clarify issues, well-organised and brilliant.
“Initially, I was nervous. Being part of a star-studded team that produces content for an international audience is not for the faint-hearted. It requires a firmer grasp on global issues. The nature of the job requires me to liaise with people from all over the world, including non-English speakers. I have to write in a particular way. Regardless of how daunting a task I'm assigned, even if the deadline is tight, I do everything possible to get it done. So far, I've adjusted well but I still have more to learn,” said Chisholm.
She further contends that her overall takeaway will be to extend her network and sharpen hands-on skills and knowledge of the media industry while tailoring best practices to improve journalism in her homeland.
“This experience is not just for me, it's for the benefit of every Jamaican journalist. We do such much work, with so little. This further demonstrates that Jamaican journalists have the ability to thrive in an international setting. With resources and support, we are capable of doing great things,” she reasoned.
Responding to questions from the Jamaica Observer, British High Commission spokesman Syranno Baines lauded Chisholm as he declared that she continues to blaze a trail of excellence across classrooms and newsrooms.
“Andrea's credentials speak for themselves and we're confident that over the next few months she will continue to fly the Jamaican flag proudly in the hallowed halls of the BBC,” said Baines, who encouraged Jamaicans to apply for the Chevening Scholarship which closes on November 2 this year.
“There's roughly 20 days still to try for a once in a lifetime opportunity. Case in point is Andrea who went for a master's degree but will end up leaving having fulfilled a childhood dream too,” added Baines.