Tucker Horne of Huntersville figures he won the gold medal of college internships when he landed his dream one in Vancouver.
The Western Carolina University senior has been on an unpaid broadcast journalism internship for more than a month at the CTV British Columbia station and will work there until April 21. CTV is Canada's largest private television broadcast company.
Horne is studying how a local station covers an international news event: in this case, the Olympics he loves.
"I've always been a fan of the Olympics, and I like local news," Horne said.
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We spoke by phone as the 2007 North Mecklenburg High grad rode a bus to work on the morning before the opening ceremonies.
Horne said he's enjoyed learning about a TV newsroom, from CTV's new software to how reporters go about their jobs.
He's taken calls about news tips, participated in news planning discussions and monitored news wires.
"My second night on the job, they asked me to be the teleprompter for the late newscast," he said.
And he interviewed a top Olympics communications official about the city's lack of snow.
But he's also loved getting onto the streets to discover all he can about the city, he said.
He's learned so much about Vancouver that he gave a walking tour to WCNC-TV co-anchor Dave Wagner.
For a reporter like himself who'd just arrived there, Wagner told viewers back in Charlotte, Horne "is a walking chamber of commerce."
Horne took Wagner - and NBC 6 viewers watching the recent broadcast - to some of his favorite spots, including the Hudson's Bay Co. store and its dazzling display of Olympic merchandise.
He also showed viewers one of the mysterious stone monuments known as inukshuks. The logo of the Winter Olympics pays tribute to the stones, which are thought to have been used as directional signs centuries ago.Horne said he's been amazed at all the languages he's heard.
He updates family and friends through his daily log, ctvtucker.wordpress.com.
Horne is the son of John and June Horne, both of whom graduated from WCU in 1973. He will graduate in May with a degree in communication, with concentrations in both broadcasting and journalism. He told me he hopes to start as a reporter at a station and work his way up in management.
Nancye Hart, a North Mecklenburg High School technology education teacher, was his greatest influence in pursuing broadcast journalism, he said.
They've stayed in touch over the years, and he called her from Vancouver to say hello.
"I am honored that he gives me that credit," Hart told me in an e-mail. "However, the credit goes to Tucker. I merely gave him an opportunity to anchor the school closed-circuit daily broadcasts and provided him an environment for success. Although the process took several years, Tucker truly blossomed."
Hart will never forget how Horne continually asked how she and her husband were doing after Hart announced to her students in 2006 that her husband, George, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
"Tucker could not have been any more compassionate," she said. "I think that he sincerely internalized my pain."
Horne was off to college in August 2008 when Hart's husband died, but Horne attended the funeral with his mother and grandmother, she said. "What an impact he has made on my life!" she wrote.
Teachers are fortunate, Hart said, when they encounter a well-rounded, good-natured student with high moral character.
"Tucker is a perfect example," she said.