“I knew spending eight weeks living and interning in Washington, D.C. was going to be a life-changing experience, but I learned even more than I anticipated,” said TFAS alumna Jessica (Eggan) Ray. A graduate of Mount Union College in Ohio, Ray attended the Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ) in 2007 where she interned at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA). “Beyond the lessons from our economics and ethics courses and work experience during the internships, I learned even more about myself.”
According to Ray, her internship supervisor Wendy Mann played a major role in polishing Ray’s skills by giving her real life experience in magazine and internet writing as well as marketing. “Wendy was a great mentor and gave me real projects and real critiques that I continue to use, even in my career as a radio news reporter,” said Ray.
Since graduating from college with a degree in media studies in 2008, Ray has had a great deal of success in her journalism career. In her current role as a radio news reporter at WJER Radio in Ohio, she produces stories and anchors newscasts. She has covered major events, including presidential campaign rallies, the Miss America Pageant and the search for a local man who drowned while swimming in a river. The Ohio Associated Press recognized her with an award for Best Enterprise Reporting for a series she did on the Cleveland Indians and for a series on living with diabetes. She also won an award for Best Continuing Coverage for a series of stories on a local hospital’s financial struggles. In 2011 and 2012, she was named the Best Reporter in Small Market Radio.
Despite her thriving journalism career, Ray has kept in close contact with TFAS, first as a Freedom Scholar and an Alumni Ambassador, and then as a member of the inaugural class of Journalism Fellows. According to Ray, sharing her experiences and staying involved with TFAS is an honor. “I’ve often referred to the summer program as the best eight-weeks of my life, and it still applies today as I learned more than I ever imagined and made lifelong memories.”
Among those lifelong memories was her wedding in Aug. 2012 to fellow TFAS alumnus David Ray. The couple met during the summer of 2007 while Jessica was attending IPJ and David was attending the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems (ICPES).