October 6, 2010
Broadcast journalist Derek Staahl is living proof that higher education can lead to unexpected rewards. The USC graduate recently spoke to the SAG Foundation about his experiences as a student, a professional and a John L. Dales Scholarship recipient.
Hired as a reporter/producer for WKOW-TV in Madison, Wisconsin and having just begun his work anchoring that ABC affiliate’s FOX newscast, Derek had originally planned a career in sports news. Early on, the high school baseball player and journalism enthusiast had called football games – via his school’s internet radio station – and had set his sights on becoming an ESPN-type anchor.
Experience in USC’s Annenberg School of Broadcast Journalism influenced his change of direction. As a student, Derek became more deeply involved with campus television and hard news, broadening his scope of interest through hands-on experience. Graduating magna cum laude and with honors including Undergraduate Broadcast Student of the Year, Derek set forth into the job market and currently works in Madison, one of the top 80 markets in the country.
Derek’s journey may have been very different, and a bit more difficult, had it not been for the SAG Foundation John L. Dales Scholarship Fund. His father, actor-writer Jim Staahl, urged Derek to pursue the Dales Scholarship. Derek applied three years in a row, and was awarded $4,000 each year.
Without it, he acknowledges that he would not have been able to afford to live on campus – an arrangement that helped make possible the student work to which he was so dedicated, countless hours of career preparation that often took him well into the early mornings.Now, the established journalist shares his well-earned view with young minds preparing themselves for the college experience.
“Try to do as many things as you possibly can in college. There are so many different opportunities, and it’s so easy to get involved with something new. Try it out… you never know!”
Applications for the 2011 John L. Dales Scholarship become available November 1, 2010.