Sami Pye spent part of her summer in Washington, D.C., with American University’s Discover the World of Communication program.
How did you find out about AU’s Discover the World program?
I discovered DWC in the middle of the night surfing the web during my sophomore year. I had spent several summers at traditional sleep-away camps, and while I loved being away from my normal life during the summer months, the activities never clicked with me. I wanted to find a program with activities specific to my interests. I know many people do pre-college programs with their future secondary education in mind, but I actually didn’t consider it at all. I wasn’t thinking about college yet, I just thought it would be something cool to do. When I got there, I knew within days American University would be a great fit for me, and two years later I’m here!
How did you know AU was a good fit?
I knew DWC was right for me when I saw myself in so many classes offered. I knew I’d be learning in an environment with people that shared the same interests as me.
What was a typical day like in your summer program?
Each residential student participates in two classes in a specific area of communication. My first summer I took Professional Newswriting and Broadcast Journalism. Sometimes you’re in a classroom, other times you may work on a project outside around campus or D.C.. My first summer I toured Voice of America and made a news package on the National Mall during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. My second summer, I got to tour Comcast Sportsnet and photographed a basketball game at Capital One Arena. A great part about being in D.C. is the city is your backyard, and the opportunities are plentiful! Every day’s learning experience is something different! After class, we had an after-hours activity, which ranged from a game on campus, celebrating a birthday, or spending an evening with Georgetown. I grew a lot as a photographer and student in those two summers and a typical day was never typical.
What was the most memorable moment in your program?
I participated in two summers at DWC. One memorable moment was the day I got to photograph a Washington Mystics basketball game.The tips I learned photographing that a high-stress environment, with no pressure of deadlines or grades has stuck with me and made me a better photographer both artistically and mentally. Another special moment for me was when we watched the sunset and played a card game outside. It showed me you didn’t need much to have a good time. We just sat on my extra sheet talking and reminiscing on all of the cool things we had done in only two weeks. It was in that moment that I realized how much this summer camp means to me and how much I wanted to go to AU. Now I am an undergrad and it’s like one big summer camp all over again, with grades! The people I learned from are incredible.
Since the AU community is such a tight knit one, a lot of the professors worked at School of Communication. Now they’re familiar faces I see on campus, and one is even my professor now. I was also close with many of the teaching assistants, many of whom are AU students and recent alums who I see a lot. The TAs helped a lot with my transition to college and are now mentors I still talk to regularly. They’ve opened up a lot of opportunities for me, both on campus and in the D.C. area!
What’s your advice for teens considering a summer program?
Do research! There are great resources both online that can find you the most specific of programs to find your niche. Your guidance department or teachers also many have
insight about programs if you reach out to them. Ask the program questions before you sign up to see if it seems like a good fit. Stalk the program's social media and see if you could picture yourself. Don’t be afraid to do something untraditional if it’s something that sparks your attention.