Investigative journalist and television crime correspondent Michelle Sigona recently brought her Emmy-winning experience to the students of Mount Airy Christian Academy for a STEM and Communications Education Symposium.
She showed the students, who ranged from third-graders to seniors, clips from her work before engaging in a lively question-and-answer session with them. There are questions you can ask of your media, no matter what kind it is, she told them.
“When you’re watching the news … whatever type of show you watching, it could be a cartoon, it could be a long-form story, it could be a movie — it’s all story,” she said. “What are you taking away from it, and how do those characters impact you?”
As they continue on after high school, she encouraged them: “Never give up on your dreams.”
Sigona is currently working behind the scenes producing a number of crime shows airing in 2019. Previously she worked as a national correspondent for the Emmy-winning show, “Crime Watch Daily,” and programs including “America’s Most Wanted,” CBS News’ “48 Hours,” Fox 5 and Investigation Discovery.
For a group of seniors who approached Sigona afterward, her Jan. 22 presentation was inspiring.
Kristen Lewson found Sigona’s experience working on criminal investigations helpful. She hopes to work as a prosecutor after school. Hearing that Sigona got her start through internships during college was encouraging.
“She’s really brave, knocking on doors, being on camera,” she said.
Karli Nisula wants to go into acting and felt confident after Sigona’s advice about working in front of a camera and an audience.
The group was impressed that Sigona is a volunteer firefighter alongside continuing her demanding career and caring for her family. They said it would inspire them to seek out more internship and volunteer opportunities after graduation.
“She’s a real-life Wonder Woman,” Elaina Epperson said.
In the short term, it might even encourage them to work harder on their homework.
“We have no excuse to be lazy,” Lewson said with a laugh.
Mount Airy Christian Academy brings in a professional speaker annually, said Head of School Vicky Webster.
This pairs well with other programs designed to help high school students prepare for the workforce. In the fall, 30-plus employers visit the school for a job fair for ninth- and 10th-graders, while 11th- and 12th-graders go out into the community for internships.
Webster thought Sigona brought energy and passion to the presentation and hoped students would see that as a model even if they don’t plan to pursue a similar career.
“We want them to think critically and be asking the hard questions,” she said.
The students’ questions during the Q&A ranged from what her favorite part about her job is — helping others, she said — to some of the crime stories that have an element of humor like a convict who broke out by sawing through bars with prison-issue dental floss.
Patrick Korn, principal of the upper school students, encouraged them to give good thought to their future careers following the assembly.
“When we do work, we’re not just making a paycheck. We’re not just moving something from point A to point B. We’re not just doing news stories for the sake of doing news stories. When we do work, that’s how God works in this world most of the time,” he said.