While most children pretended to be superheroes, Jenni Williams, a senior news producer at WYFF 4 and 2013 South Carolina Honors College alumna, grew up pretending to be a reporter.
“I would watch the news with my parents, and then… my friends and I would do like a fake newscast when we were like 10,” Williams said.
As a child, Williams loved writing, being informed and taking leadership positions, leading her to build an interest in journalism.
When looking at colleges, Williams was initially attracted to the University of South Carolina because of the broadcast journalism program offered at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The degree involves a senior year semester experience where students create their own newscast, something which few colleges in the country offered at that time.
Williams decided on USC for this unique journalism program and because she was accepted into the Honors College, which presented her with the opportunity to have the benefits of a small community in a big school.
Throughout college, Williams learned how to perform various jobs in the broadcasting field. Her professors placed her in front of and behind the camera to ensure that she had experience in different roles. The most beneficial experience SJMC offered Williams was the senior semester, which simulated a real newsroom. It taught Williams to work at a fast pace and make consistent, high-quality content regardless of the job she performed that week.
“You really do get that 360-view of the industry, and it helps you relate to your coworkers [and] helps you have reasonable expectations for your coworkers, which is very helpful in the real world,” Williams said.
Williams also excelled in the Honors College because it provided her with unique opportunities, like taking special honors courses and building strong connections with other Honors students.
“A lot of my friends were just like me. They were high achievers…they were involved on campus,” Williams said. “We pushed each other, I think, to be the best we could be.”
One of the courses that Williams took through the Honors College was a service-learning class where she learned medical Spanish called Spanish for Healthcare Professionals. The class presented her with the opportunity to learn new terminology and to visit clinics as a translator for Spanish-speaking patients.
After college, Williams used her broadcasting and Spanish skills to get a job as a producer at WYFF 4. She has worked there for nine years and is now the senior producer. One of her recent accomplishments was launching a Spanish newscast, utilizing the broadcasting and Spanish skills she learned during college.
Williams continues to carry the lessons from her journalism program and Honors experience with her today as she lives out her dream of being in the news.
“I learned so much when I was there, not just knowledge from books, but learned about the world, learned about different people [and] different ways of doing things.”