Southeast Missouri State University graduate Derrion Henderson hasn’t wasted any time putting his multimedia journalism skills to work in a major media market with FOX2 News, KTVI, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Henderson, a 2015 Southeast graduate, is a news anchor and reporter, covering news in St. Louis and the surrounding area. One of the first students to major in multimedia journalism at Southeast, Henderson landed the position in St. Louis after reporting for two years with KFVS12 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
“What I love about my job is the ability to tell someone’s story. Not everyone is as articulate as other people, but that doesn’t mean that their story shouldn’t be told. In my job, I get the ability to tell someone’s story and put it in perspective. I can express their emotion to other people when they can’t find the words to express it themselves. I can come in and shine some light on the issues they are dealing with and help them find solutions. I thrive off of that,” he said.
Henderson began his collegiate career at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis but transferred to Southeast after falling in love with the news industry. The Department of Mass Media’s outstanding accreditation inspired Henderson to transfer. Southeast is one of only two schools in Missouri that hold accreditation from The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).
In addition to choosing an accredited, qualified program, Henderson wanted to attend a school where he would be a student instead of a statistic.
“I wanted to have intimate relationships with my professors,” he said. I wanted them to know me on a first name basis, and to get invested in me and my future.”
Henderson believes that his extracurricular involvement enriched his education and expanded his education to include learning outside of the classroom. In addition to his studies in the Department of Mass Media, Henderson was actively involved at Southeast. He was president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, president of Vandiver Hall, and president of the Southeast chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.
During his time at Southeast as a multimedia journalism major, he was one of two students who produced the weekly Arrow on the Air news program on RAGE 103.5 FM, a weekly radio report from Southeast’s student newspaper, the Arrow.
After hearing Henderson’s first program, Dr. Tamara Zellars Buck, faculty advisor to the Arrow and multimedia journalism coordinator in Southeast’s Department of Mass Media, knew she had heard something special and told him she thought he had found a natural fit for his talent.
“It was here that Derrion found his calling,” she said. “From this point, he began to focus his stories in the broadcast realm, both video and radio, which helped him get an internship in St. Louis, which led to his employment at KFVS12.”
KFVS News Director Roger Seay recalls the contributions Henderson made at KFVS during his work at the Cape Girardeau CBS affiliate from June 2015 to June 2017. His skills and knowledge made a lasting impression on those with whom he worked and interacted.
“His positive attitude and natural inquisition of things around him made him stand out in the world of journalists,” Seay said. “And everyone enjoyed talking to Derrion. He was able to get an interview on camera from almost anyone. And reporters will tell you that can be difficult.”
Buck said, “One of his former bosses told me they called him ‘The Guy Who Gets the Interview,’ because Derrion was always able to go into even the least trusting environments and get people to trust him. I think this is just more proof of his professionalism and his passion for storytelling. I’m so happy to see him living his dream.”
Seay added, “His co-workers describe him as passionate and personable. Viewers can relate to Derrion. That is why he was successful at KFVS and now at FOX2 in St. Louis.”
Kathy Sweeney, anchor and investigative reporter at KFVS, served as a mentor to Henderson.
“Derrion came into our newsroom with a ton of raw talent. But more importantly, he had a real desire to learn and improve,” she said. “He took every suggestion, every bit of feedback and ran with it. I told him the sky is really the limit for him and I truly believe that. Like a proud work momma, I can’t wait to see where his talents take him next.”
Working in St. Louis for Fox 2 News has been a rewarding experience for Henderson. As a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor in the top 20 market, Henderson says he has been able to learn and grow in his career. He hopes to one day go national with a cable news television show with a radio show extension, but he is content with reporting in his hometown of St. Louis for the time being.
“I’m letting life take me on a journey to wherever I need to be,” he said.
Henderson advises Southeast students to listen to their hearts, learn from their mistakes, and choose a career that they love.
“It’s not about money – it’s about what makes you happy,” he said. “The goal should be to wake up happy — to get up and do what you love every day.”