Junior and broadcast major Ashley poses front and center (with O magazine) with her classmates in our JRN 421 Journalism in Perspective class. I asked each student to pick a professional journalist whose career he or she admires. Ashley picked Oprah Winfrey–and invited her to visit our classroom via Skype.

This term we’ve already conducted a Skype interview with Jodie Steck in Texas, who is the former assistant director of photography at the White House and a former national editor with the Associated Press. Today we interviewed Daryl Mitchell, a news photographer with KPTV-12 in Portland, Oregon. We have other professionals who’ve agreed to share their stories and advice, including a still photographer who covers conflict and a sports reporter who covers college basketball. Skype is a great tool that allows us to bring people to our remote classroom in the interior of Alaska.

And we hope Oprah will be our finale–our final is December 16 at 10 a.m.

I’ve told my students that curiosity and persistence are mandatory attributes for successful journalists. Ashley’s classmates laughed out loud at her when she selected Oprah for her professional profile.

Now they’re standing behind her–literally and figuratively.