A 2008 graduate of Leesville High School, Alyse Lacking, recently earned a chance to attend the UNITY ‘08 Convention July 23-27 at the McCormick Place West in Chicago, Ill.
The convention, which is the world's largest gathering of journalists of color, is the signature event of UNITY Journalists of Color, Inc., an alliance representing nearly 10,000 members of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA).
Prior to attending the Unity ‘08 Convention, Lacking took part in the UNITY Student Campus program. 
The Student Campus is an intensive three-day program prior to the official opening of the UNITY ’08 Convention. Supervised by some of the top journalism professionals and educators from across the nation, the Student Campus helps college students who are interested in journalism careers to set a path to success and explore ways to take the necessary steps to get there.
“This has been a different experience," said Lacking of the UNITY ‘08 Convention and UNITY Student Campus. "I got a chance to meet people from all over, and we all learned things about each others' cultures and Chicago.”
The Student Campus taught her that the different cultures have more in common then most think, she said.
“I feel that I have learned what I need to get my foot in the door in the world of broadcasting," she added. "I never would have thought that i would find myself in the same room much less shaking hands and talking to Stuart Scott.”
Scott is an anchor for ESPN.
While a student at Leesville High School, Lacking was a dedicated member of the LHS Athletic Program. Lacking played as the starting forward on the Lady Cats varsity basketball team, and threw javelin for the Lady Cats track and field team. While a member of the Lady Cats basketball team, Lacking was named to the All Vernon Parish first team, All District second team, and was named to the class 4-A all academic team on the state level. She also excelled in the classroom.
As a sophomore, Lacking was inducted into the National Honor Society, and was named to the principal’s list for the past three years. Recently, Lacking graduated from LHS as a summa cum laude honor graduate.  In August, she plans to attend Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where she will major in Radio/Television and Film.
Lacking was one of forty students from colleges across the United States who were selected by the UNITY alliance associations to take part in this week-long program featuring a series of workshops, writing and journalism exercises, exposure to coverage issues and techniques, and career development advice at this early stage in their college education and journalism training.
Workshops included topics such as newsroom ethics, what makes a good story and what it takes to successfully apply for newsroom internships.
While at the convention, Lacking had the opportunity to participate in a variety of dialogues, educational sessions and networking events, such as daily panel breakfasts where key topics important to journalists and communities of color will be discussed.
One of the feature events during UNITY ‘08 is the Joint Candidates Forum, a discussion between the Democratic and Republican frontrunners, Barack Obama and John McCain, conducted on July 24. The candidates will address questions from a panel of working journalist representing all four alliance partners.