WJI Alumni Profile: Heather Bridges
Mar 13, 2017
WJI Class of 2015
Profile by: Sarah Wedel
Heather Bridges was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Growing up, telling stories was a way of life in her home. Heather’s father worked as a journalist for the International Mission Board frequently travelling internationally. He wrote stories about the lives and work of missionaries around the world. Heather loved reading these stories of unique people in far off places she had never been to.
Although Heather enjoyed reading and writing growing up, she never knew what she wanted to do until college when she realized her love of writing could be translated into a career. Heather majored in communications and minored in journalism at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.
Heather spent the summer after her junior year interning with the International Mission Board. For two months, Heather travelled Southeast Asia writing about students and their experiences. Heather excelled at finding stories and telling them in a way that portrayed their importance. The experience showed her how important each and every story is.
“I really do believe that everyone has a story and when you are a reporter it’s amazing how easily people will open up to you and share their story,” Heather said.
Heather first learned about the World Journalism Institute her senior year of college. Because of her father’s work as a Christian journalist, he was familiar with Marvin and Susan Olasky as well as the WJI program. He encouraged Heather to apply even though she would attend after college graduation. At first Heather hesitated thinking she should go right into a full-time job instead of attending a two-week workshop.
It turns out attending WJI ’15 was the perfect way to get warmed up for the real world. Heather said the best thing she learned from WJI was confidence. Many of the assignments during the two-week workshop required going outside of the building to report.
“The part (of WJI) that was most helpful was the fact they shoved us out into Asheville and said go do this,” Heather said. “That was nerve-wracking, but I think we all benefitted from it.”
The journalism department at Heather’s college didn’t offer experience in mediums other than writing. WJI exposed Heather to a range of other communication outlets and experiences including radio, photography and videography.
For the past year, Heather has worked as a features reporter for the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg, Virginia. She said being exposed to different forms of communication at WJI has been helpful in her job. Since the staff for the paper is small having a diverse set of skills is important to making the paper successful.
Heather isn’t sure what her future holds, but she said she knows she will always be a storyteller in some form.
“Everyone has a cool story whether it’s someone in Williamsburg or someone in India,” she said. “Every story is equally valuable.”
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