Not many 15 year-olds know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. But one Uniondale high school junior, Danie Henry, has known exactly what she has wanted to be ever since her adolescence — a broadcast journalist.
She says her love for storytelling started as a youth, crediting her father with introducing her to the profession at a young age and teaching her about the ins and outs of American politics. “I first started to get into journalism with my dad,” she explained, “He always had the news on the TV.”
Henry and her father really bonded over the news as she was growing up, she said, and since most elementary aged children aren’t well versed in the complexities of the American political system, she would ask questions as they watched — questions her father was more than happy to answer for his curious daughter.
As the years passed, these lessons from her father grew into a passion. This fostering passion, combined with her future graduation and thinking ahead, ultimately lead Henry to fill out a career quiz on College Board, a non-profit organization based in the United States that is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education, as well as for providing various resources and programs to support students, educators, and educational institutions.
It was this quiz that would propel her head first into the world of journalism. Following its completion, Henry says she received a letter in the mail from George Mason University inviting her to the annual Washington Journalism and Media Conference, a week-long experiential learning program for “highly engaged high school students.” The conference is funded by George Mason University and is held each summer in Washington, D.C. in July.
The Washington Journalism and Media Conference is designed to give students a behind-the-scenes look at the world of journalism and media, allowing students an opportunity to learn from and make connections with industry leaders, award-winning journalists, and international media outlets in various workshops, lectures and lessons, such as first amendment and newsroom “simulations,” as well as fun and educational field trips around the nation’s capital city.
The guest speaker list featured well-known journalists, editors, and other experts from around the country offering insight, knowledge, and advice on this unique industry and its inner workings. For Henry there was one speaker — Randi Richardson, a reporter for NBC News — that stood out to her amongst the rest.
“You should have seen my face when I saw Randi Richardson, I was like, ‘oh my God, somebody that looks like me,’ and she had her hair out like I do and everything,” Henry said.
According to a 2023 demographic and statistical report from Zippia, only six percent of journalists in the United States are Black. Both Henry and Richardson are Black women, a distinction that sets them apart in a heavily white dominated industry and world. “It was really refreshing to see somebody that looked like me, that really made me feel confident. People like her paved the way for me and for other black women to get to where they are now,” explained Henry.
But it isn’t just Henry who is excited about her future, she has an entire community and school district backing her. “As a school community, we are tremendously proud of Danie for taking a leap of faith and following her dreams,” said Uniondale high school Assistant Principal Janine Bradley. “We have a quote here, that we expect our students to graduate ‘empowered, responsible, resilient and prepared,’ and Danie embodies all of those things.”
Henry has one more year left at Uniondale, but since attending the conference, has no doubts about her future. Her goal is to make her way back to D.C. full-time, hopefully working for CNN. “I was actually thinking now after the conference that I would study political science as my major and then minor in journalism.”
But for now, it is one step at a time. Henry is focused on getting into college and going through the application process. “My dream college is Howard,” she explained to the Herald, “second is Clark Atlanta, the third is Hampton and then actually George Mason is my backup school, but don’t tell anybody that.”
Assistant Principal Bradley is beyond proud of all of Danie’s accomplishments in just three years and believes that Danie will too pave the way for future Black women in this field. “She's not a senior yet so she still has another year with us, but she's definitely the exemplar of the direction we want our students to go in.”