Millions of athletes, coaches and their families and fans from around the globe will see lifelong dreams come to fruition tonight as the world celebrates the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London.
Count Bloomfield Hills' Jillian Fellows among them. Though the Andover High School graduate won't be donning the stars and stripes for Team USA in any Olympic competition over the next two weeks, she is indeed living out a dream that has consumed her for 12 years.
Fellows, 20, is among 16 students from Ohio University participating in a unique program to actually cover the games and report to audiences both at home and around the world via social media. The inaugural experience, organized entirely by students and faculty from the university's vaunted E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, began earlier this week as students arrived in London and began touring the city and countryside.
Of Interest: Read Jillian Fellows' Initial Blog Post From London
The trip is part of a six-credit course that students began in the spring by researching Olympic topics, hosting Skype conferences with journalists from around the country and meeting regularly. After traveling, the team will attend some classes at the university dorms they are staying in, and will get to cover some competitions as members of the Olympic press corps.
Fellows, a staff writer for The Post, OU's student newspaper, will be responsible for providing content — including blogs, photos and video — for that publication, the Scripps London Website, and her professors. She said her grade will be assessed largely on six required articles that bring a bit of the Olympics back to her audience, but can essentially be about anything she finds while she's there.
The opportunities, particularly for an Olympics-crazed observer, are limitless.
"It's basically whatever we want to report on as long as it contributes to the mission of covering the Olympics, which is really exciting," Fellows said in a recent interview at her parent's home.
An International Flair
Fellows said her fascination with the Olympics began when her parents let her stay up for the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. The pageantry and beauty of the event dazzled her, as did the next two weeks of competition in most sports — particularly soccer.
She said she had just started to play organized soccer at the time and was amazed at the level of competition and success of the U.S. women's team, which fell 3-2 to Norway in the finale. Her love for the sport grew through high school, where she became the goalkeeper for the Barons' varsity team.
But her passion for soccer and interest in international affairs goes deeper than that. Fellows is the second of Liz and Neil Fellows' four children. Neil moved to the United States from England more than 40 years ago. Though he grew up in America, he remains passionate about European football and transferred that love to his children, she said. Fellows follows the teams in the standings and could probably hold her own if quizzed about the sport in one of England's pubs.
"I just find that any international gathering that revolves around sports, that kind of an event, is just really, really exciting," she said.
Fellows has traveled abroad, but never to England. She was a candidate for a study-abroad program through Ohio University in Zambia last year, but the trip didn't materialize.
"I always knew I wanted to do a study-abroad program, but I didn't let myself get too emotionally involved in that one, and now this opportunity came along," she said.
Any concerns about safety or being abroad for so long were easily outweighed by the benefits of the experience, both direct and indirect, said Liz Fellows, Jillian's mom.
"It's always great to see the world we live in because we live a very insular life in America," said Liz Fellows, who joined the Andover Band and Orchestra members on their trip abroad in April to perform at the Edinburgh Easter Festival.
"The world is a big place and it's good spread your wings when you're young," she continued. "And I love it when when my kids want to experience something new and I can help them achieve their dreams."
Building a Career
Though she flirted with the idea of playing at the collegiate level, Fellows found her calling in writing, and get her first experiences in journalism at The Shield, Andover's award-winning student publication. The former news editor said she wasn't really interested in journalism until her junior year of high school and she consciously began to think about her future and career opportunities.
"I realized the only passion I had that I could continue into college was writing," she said. "I was initially interested in creative writing, but the more involved I got with the Shield, and the more I learned about journalism, the more I could see my self doing that style of writing."
She applied to several journalism schools, was accepted to most and chose one of the premier schools in the country for communications.
The fact that that decision ultimately led her to the Olympics at 20 feels remarkable, she said.
"This is something I've always wanted to do, and the fact that I get a chance to do it now is amazing," she said.
What to Do?
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