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Hays High grad provides coverage of school shooting in N.M.

1/23/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Emily Younger, a 2009 Hays High School graduate, is finding success in New Mexico following the Roswell middle school shooting.

Younger has been employed by KRQE News 13 in Albuquerque as a Roswell bureau reporter since June.

On Jan. 14, a 12-year-old opened fire in the gym of Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, injuring two students. Kendal Sanders, 13, received minor injuries when she was hit in the arm. Nathanial Tavarez, 12, still is in the hospital having received serious face and head injuries. The shooter remains in a psychiatric hospital, according to authorities.

"I'm the only worker in Roswell," Younger said. "I went into work. It was any normal day. I went in around 8 in the morning, and my phone started frantically ringing."

The Public Information Officer with the Roswell police department told her there had been a shooting at the school.

"So immediately I grabbed all my things," Younger said. "I'm a one-man band, so I grabbed my camera, tripod, anything I could think of and went straight to the school where it had happened."

Younger said she was the first media on scene.

"I was probably feeling what a lot of the parents were feeling," she said. "I was in shock, thinking, 'Is this really happening,' then journalism mode just kind of kicked in, and I started doing my job."

Parents were notified to pick up their children at the nearby mall. Police and medical personnel, along with a few "frantic" parents, were the only ones still at the school. Younger started filming.

"I called the station and told them this is not a joke," she said. "I asked for them to send some backup. They said, 'Don't worry about getting information, get reactions, then go to the mall.' So that's exactly what I did."

The news station then sent down the helicopter so she could go live at noon.

More than a week later, Younger still is covering the shooting.

"I just did a story talking to one of the victim's parents," she said. "I think you just know when you get into journalism that you're going to be faced with difficult situations. You have to go into it like, I want to make a difference. I want to tell your story, but you have to be human, too. You can't just be spitting out questions because the person isn't going to feel connected to you or feel like you want to tell their story."

Growing up in Hays, Younger said she always wanted to be a broadcast journalist.

"Ever since I went to O'Loughlin Elementary School, I knew," she said. "As young kids, we got to read the list of lost and found items and say the lunch menu before school. I thought, 'Hey, this is pretty cool.' And as I grew up, I started thinking that journalists really do get to make a difference in people's lives."

After leaving Hays High, she majored in broadcasting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She graduated in May 2013.

"I started applying everywhere around February," Younger said. "The Albuquerque station flew me out for an interview, and I took the job before I even graduated. I was thrilled."

She said the station's market was a key factor in accepting the job.

"It was a top-50 market," she said. "Not many kids right out of college get to work for a station that big. It was really out of my comfort zone, but I thought I'm young, so I might as well."

In the future, Younger said she hopes to move up to the Albuquerque bureau and eventually move back to the Midwest, particularly Kansas City, Mo.

"I don't know what my dream is," she said. "It changes every day. I'm just taking it one day at a time, especially with all these crazy stories."