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For journalist Shelby Brown, a story has a lot of power. During one sweltering summer, the CBS WTVR-TV Chesterfield, Va., beat reporter found out just how much. As part of a piece about a Chesterfield Sheriff's Department program that checks on elderly shut-ins, Shelby interviewed an elderly, blind woman who had "formed this great bond with a deputy who checked on her every day." The woman had no air conditioning and no hope of affording it herself. After the story aired, however, a local business quickly donated AC units, for that woman and other needy citizens to be distributed by the sheriff's department. "When you do a story, there's a result -- sometimes instant results," she says. In Shelby's case, that journalistic power stems from a personal drive that was there since she was a child -- the youngest girl among 13 siblings. She became obsessed with watching news and learned public speaking early by addressing the family's Williamsburg church. In becoming the first in her family to graduate from a four-year college, Brown learned from JMU communication professors, including Roger Soenksen, "to go that extra mile."
"Get out there and be aggressive," she advises budding journalists. "Those are the ones who make it."