NEW YORK—Coronavirus concerns. Battening down for blizzards. A Hollywood heavyweight headed to trial. J. Gabriel Ware's workdays are never dull. The Western Michigan University alumnus works on the assignment desk at ABC News, covering breaking news stories from across the country.
"It's kind of overwhelming at first because it's a big network. 'World News Tonight.' 'The View.' 'Good Morning America.' 'Nightline.' '20/20.' It's just so big," says Ware, who was hired at the network in 2019 after a successful internship.
The Detroit native's success is no accident. It's the result of years of hard work and focus, honing his craft and exploring all aspects of media as a student at WMU.
"I had a lot of support from the School of Communication. Professors Sue Ellen Christian, Dr. Richard Gershon, Dr. Richard Junger and Dr. Leigh Ford all helped me find opportunities—encouraging me and lifting me up," Ware says. "Dr. Ford would always say that I'd work at The New York Times one day. That actually made me shoot for The New York Times, and I did participate in the New York Times Student Journalism Institute program.
Ware's passion for journalism led him to the Western Herald, WMU's student-run newspaper, and also opened the door to a number of experiential learning opportunities—something 93% of WMU graduates have on their resume when they cross the stage at commencement, according to a recent report.
"Working at the Western Herald helped me get an internship at Encore Magazine," says Ware, who also completed internships at WMUK radio and Yes! Magazine in Seattle. "When I was at Yes!, I was always in contact with Dr. Ford and professor Christian. They were always helping me with stories and helping me in general so I didn't just disappear for six months."
As a Seita Scholar—a groundbreaking program at WMU that offers full tuition to foster youth—Ware had the financial stability to pursue his dream in full force.
"I was able to work unpaid internships in my field and get that journalism experience to take me to the next level," says Ware, adding that his Seita Scholars coach, program director Ronicka Hamilton met with him often and helped him find opportunities to advance his education and career aspirations.
Ware was also able to begin working on his master's degree during his senior year with the accelerated graduate degree program. Now a two-time WMU graduate with bachelor's and master's degrees in communication, he is excited to be pursing his passion. And, he encourages other students to take advantage of what his alma mater has to offer.
"If you're going into media, there are plenty of opportunities at Western to establish yourself," he says. "All of my experiences helped me get to where I am now."
For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.