Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Mills

Name: Jonathan Mills
High School Attended: Rockingham Early College High School
Home County: Rockingham
College Attended: University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Year Graduated: 2017
Major: Computer Science
Minor: Philosophy
County Now Living In: Rockingham
Employer: WGSR Star News Reidsville
Title: Executive Producer
Years Working for Current Employer: 5 (internship during summer, hired on to work during/after college)

What would you tell someone interested in applying for the Golden LEAF Scholarship about being a recipient?

If you’re interested, you should absolutely apply. It’s really not just about the scholarship; it’s an experience. You’re not just receiving a scholarship; you are also gaining access to a huge community of people that are there for you to help you be successful.

What helped you decide to live and work in a rural area?

Rockingham County is where I grew up and also where I worked for the internship program. I learned a lot during my time in college that I felt I could bring back with me to help accomplish tasks during my internship. I was eventually offered a full-time job once I finished school, which I accepted. There’s also a great sense of community, and I’d say it feels more like family rather than just coworkers meeting every day to get the job done.

What kind of leadership roles are you serving in currently?

Currently I am the executive producer at WGSR Star News Reidsville, a local TV station. I handle the majority of live production that goes on in our studios. This will be my second year as co-parade organizer for the Reidsville Christmas Parade, a major event in our community.

What would you like to share about your personal or professional philosophies?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” is a quote that I really try to live by. I try not to take life so seriously and have fun with everything I do. Sometimes life is difficult, but finding the positives makes it worth it.

Something I’m very passionate about is trying to bridge the generational disconnect between the older and younger generations. A lot of people seem to immediately write off the younger generation, and it pains me to see that. I was asked to host a talk show for an hour weekly that would focus on topics to help educate people that didn’t understand the newer generation’s ways of living and operating. It wasn’t met with the greatest reception, but I just hope that I was able to help make a few people understand our generation a little bit more than before.

What did you learn during your experience with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?

One of my favorite examples would have to be the better understanding of how different people have different leadership styles. I definitely feel like that helped me understand myself better and how I can adapt and interact with others to effectively complete a task or project.

What internship experiences did you have through the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program?

I worked the same internship for each summer of the program, eventually leading up to being hired for school breaks and full time after graduation. I worked on a few projects of my own design, helping create some more efficient ways of doing our daily work. I’ve learned so many different aspects of not only my job, but the duties of my coworkers as well. Every summer was greater than the previous one, and I truly feel like I have made a difference by working there.

Did your experiences in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program help shape your decision to live and work in rural areas?

My experiences absolutely helped in my decision. Working in a television station, you really begin to see how the community interacts as a whole. You get an opportunity to see stories and hear from individuals you may not see as often. You encounter all sorts of converging to the television station as an outlet for news and information. That concept itself really highlights the sense of community, allowing you to see first-hand what is going on in your coverage area. It really helps build that sense of community, and with that, you really have a feeling of loyalty to bring the best that you can to serve the community around you.

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