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Wesley globetrots to China before starting her life in Indiana

By Dominique Ross

Belynda Wesley, a Florida A&M University student of the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication, is making a name for herself in the field of journalism.

She will graduate on Dec. 14 with a news reporting job in hand. Wesley has landed a job at ABC 57 in South Bend, Indiana. Plus, Wesley was selected by the National Association of Black Journalists as a recipient of the Les Payne Reporting Trip to China. The all-expenses paid scholarship for China allows the graduating senior to be abroad for more than a week with four other journalism students. She left Saturday, Nov. 24.

"The NABJ is proud of the students selected to participate in the NABJ Les Payne Reporting Trip to China. We look forward to the stories that Christiana, Shannon, Shayla, Belynda and Kyla will produce in China, and to their continued success," said NABJ President Sarah Glover.

From China, Wesley shared that the group had already ridden the high speed train known as the fastest bullet train in the world: the Shanghai Maglev boasts speeds of more than 260 mph. Then, she couldn’t help but go on about her experiences with Glover; Les Payne’s daughter Tammy Payne; NABJ Co-Founder Joe Davidson; and Rochelle Riley from the Detroit Free Press.

“I’m grateful to be chosen on this trip,” she said from her room in Chuzhou – an eastern Anhui province. “To be one of the first on this trip … is nothing but rewarding. Sitting in resorts and catching bullet trains in the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and the province of Anhui -- it’s been a humbling experience.”

When she returns to Florida, Wesley will resume plans to complete her last semester at FAMU. Wesley, a broadcast journalism student from South Florida, discussed how a journalism career was never in her original plans. Prior to enrolling, Wesley’s cousin Iman Sandifer was enrolled at FAMU and suggested she come and visit the school. Being fond of writing and wanting to perfect her craft, Wesley’s interest in news sprouted after seeing FAMU TV 20. This ultimately led her decision to become a FAMU student.

“FAMU SJGC has paved my way, taught me the fundamentals, confidence and the things I need to know to be a great reporter,” she said.

During her college career, Wesley has landed a few internships and fellowships. She was an NABJ student project reporter. She interned at: WCTV Channel 6 in Tallahassee and WSVN Fox Channel 7 News in Miami and Society of Professional Journalists. She has reported on homecoming specials, election specials and was instrumental in creating a report on the protest for Parkland shooting in Tallahassee.

Journalism Professor Kenneth Jones had nothing but praise for Wesley. He mentioned how she’s been chosen and selected for many things.

“She’s a hard worker. She works beyond the call -- what I call beyond the grade work,” Jones said.

Wesley believes that no’s are only gateways to yes’s. It’s no wonder why her peers and professors see her as a rising star.

“Anytime I feel like giving up or just don’t feel like working, Belynda kicks my butt to keep going, because she doesn’t stop,” said her best friend Kayla Carter.

Wesley also shared that in the field of reporting how important it is to take risks. On Facebook, she shared how she saw a white supremacist rally was taking place in Tallahassee. Knowing that information, she made sure she covered the story. She decided that she wanted to talk to the president of the white supremacist group.

“I went to the right channels. (I) asked the chief of police and he went to go get him,” Wesley said. “As I was talking to him all the other news outlets came up behind me to interview him -- that’s when I knew I did something right.”

In the field of journalism, Wesley is aiming to go as far as she can with her dreams. She wants to not only work as a reporter but also document her experiences traveling and covering feature stories.