To a New Degree


To a New Degree
7/29/2016 10:50:04 AM

Success in TV news prompts EAST Alumni's pursuit of meteorology degree.

Tevin Wooten stands on firm ground, one foot in soft skills and the other in hard science. It’s that dual mix that seemed to make his experience in EAST such an easy fit, and in no small part why he’s temporarily walking away from the TV cameras in northwest Arkansas to pursue a meteorology degree at Florida State University this fall.


“When you think of EAST, you think of something that allows you to do anything — and not just one thing. It opens the doors for almost anyone doing anything,” Wooten said. “For me, it was the STEM fields.”


At first, it was video production. In EAST at Camden Fairview High School he expanded a project that had been launched to cover the football team’s Friday night highlights.


“I took it one step further. That’s something EAST teaches us. It was just football when I took it over, but I decided to cover different things going on in the school. I turned it into Card Copy TV. In my mind, for that part of the state of Arkansas, that was probably the first time someone had done something like that.”


If it sounds like the budding instincts of a community journalist, that’s because it was. Wooten went on to college at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where he stayed on top of the news — but chose to major in engineering and embrace his interest in science. He excelled, but it just wasn’t enough.


“It’s not that I hated it or failed at it, but there was always something more, and that was television,” Wooten said of switching majors to broadcast journalism. “Growing up I was always watching news — KATV, KARK, THV11 — morning, afternoon and night. And I noticed while still in engineering that I was always still checking latest headlines, still seeing what’s going on in news.


“I guess my epiphany was, when you’re able to get good grades in a field you enjoy where you graduate going to a good job making more than $60,000 a year and still feel like there’s something else missing, maybe you should go try that something else.”


It was in his senior semester of college that he started working for KNWA/FOX24, the local NBC and FOX affiliates, and it was on KWNA that Wooten shined, especially when it came to weather. He enjoyed the science side of things, he said. And it was EAST that helped him figure out how to take those high level science concepts and break them down into everyman understanding.


“It was talking about things based in technology, going to Conference every year, communicating what you just learned to judges. That’s where TV and weather relate to my experience almost to a T,” Wooten said. “As complex as calculus may be, you combine that with weather science but then get to communicate that to the viewer in simple, yet exciting, terms why this front is moving in the way it does and why it’s producing thunderstorms.”


Wooten says the evolution — covering school news, starting in engineering, interning for NASA, working the the Arkansas Razorbacks video production, working on local news and now seeking to become a certified broadcast meteorologist with eyes on a national morning show or the Weather Channel — isn’t so much a shift in interests as a natural pattern, one he knew would unfold and one he’s always tried to prepare for.


“My road has never really taken a turn,” he said. “It’s just swapped lanes a little bit while I’m on the same interstate.”

“The science interest has always been there. The math interest has always been there. TV interest has always there. I was prioritizing. I wouldn't’ say one is better than the other. That’s just how my cards were dealt. So I took advantage of every opportunity I was given, and that’s only going to help me.”


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