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SIPA Alumni: Mills Hayes

By Justin Brouckaert, scholastic media assistant
Posted February 17, 2017

Before she became station manager at SGTV, University of South Carolina broadcast journalism sophomore Mills Hayes was just another yearbook kid at Lexington High School, excited to attend the annual SIPA convention.

“You kind of bond over the fact that you care so much about this thing that nobody else cares about, except how many signatures they get,” Hayes said. “We always loved going to the Marriott because we felt so fancy. We were like, ‘Maybe the student body doesn’t necessarily care about yearbook, but these people do.’”

Hayes, a former member of both SCSPA and SIPA, served on the staff of Cat’s Paw all four years of high school, rising to the title of co-editor-in-chief her senior year. What she enjoyed most at scholastic media events was sharing ideas with other scholastic journalists, advisers and yearbook publishers.

“We would get up in the morning and go get breakfast and drink coffee and feel like we were real journalists,” she said. “It was almost like a trial run for how our lives were going to be.”

Yearbook took up most of Hayes’ time in high school, but she’s always been interested in television. When she was young, she wanted to be a singer or actress. Then, in middle school, she decided becoming a broadcaster might be a more realistic way to get on TV.

“I like talking in front of people, and I like talking with people, especially,” she said. “I like the spotlight. I like the attention.”

Hayes attended USC in large part because of its student media opportunities, and she wasted no time getting involved with SGTV, the student-run television network on campus.

Her first semester, she worked as a staffer on SGTV’s News 4 Show. Her second semester, she was co-producer of the Weekend Preview program on the News 4 Show. In Fall 2016, she managed the News 4 staff as news director.

In January 2017, Hayes was named station manager. She’s now in charge of SGTV’s 16-person executive staff, the producers and directors of all the station’s different shows.

“It’s a lot of dealing with people and making sure everybody is working well together and being respectful of each other,” Hayes said. “It’s hard, but it’s taught me a lot already. You have to learn how to work with all kinds of people.”

Hayes is growing into her new managerial role.

“I love being able to sit down with one of my producers and be like, ‘Okay, this went really well with your show,’” she said. “Before, I was only part of the News 4 staff, but now I’m getting to dip my hands in our sports, our video games, our productions. It’s nice to kind of help people revel in their success and be a part of that.”

Balancing SGTV responsibilities with a full class load has been a challenge for Hayes.

“It’s really hard, and I get stressed out, but I like stress. I thrive off it,” she said. “I do wish I had more time. I always feel like working with the station, I have so much to prove, and I don’t want to let anyone down.”

Hayes hopes to improve the visibility of the 14-year-old SGTV, an infant compared to some other student media outlets, like the 109-year-old Daily Gamecock.

“A lot of people don’t know who we are unless we’ve been directly involved with their organization,” Hayes said. “I want us to become more of a prevalent force on campus. I want us to be well known, to cover more events, to be that resource on campus for students to get news through visual communication.”

After graduation, Hayes hopes to pursue a career in political journalism, working either behind or in front of the camera for a major news network.

She encourages scholastic journalists not to let their fear or nerves keep them from getting involved.

“I was scared to go out and cover a story by myself when I was a freshman because the equipment literally scared me. I didn’t know how to use it, and I was scared of looking stupid,” she said. “The thing is, now is the time to look stupid and make mistakes. Now is the time to have a really terrible interview with someone or a really bad video that’s out of focus. Here is the time to make your mistakes and learn.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.