With a shift that started at 8 a.m. the Friday before the Vice Presidential Debate, Allyson Stone left her home in Chesapeake at 4:30 to make it to the Fox News stage in front of Lankford Hall on time.
Talk about being punctual.
Stone’s natural enthusiasm—somewhat fueled by a few cups of coffee—was the first thing Fox News producer Pete Flores encountered that morning, and he quickly came to rely on her and fellow Lancer Ryan Carey—and their unwavering energy—for the next five days.
“We found ourselves staying longer than our shifts, and even coming to shifts we weren’t assigned to work,” said Carey. “For a few nights, we finished at 9 p.m. and had to be back at 3 a.m. to help with ‘Fox & Friends.’ It was exhilarating—and a little exhausting—but an unforgettable week.”
It’s easy to keep energy levels high when you’re rubbing shoulders with Ainsley Earhardt, Bret Baier, Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly, or sitting behind the Fox News desk doing lighting tests.
The long hours and eagerness to help left an impression on Flores, who is working on one of the other mega-events this year: the Super Bowl. Knowing he needed additional hands he could count on, he called up his two Longwood stalwarts—Stone and Carey.
It’s really like having a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—I couldn’t have imagined this happening.Allyson Stone '17
“I knew right away that I had a great group of student volunteers for the debate who really went above and beyond,” said Flores, who will co-lead production at the Super Bowl in Houston this February. “We will often call people we have worked with to assist in other projects, and both Allyson and Ryan expressed strong interest in working the Super Bowl with us. I was impressed by their attitude, work ethic and persistence, which led directly to the opportunity for them in Houston. Many people who work at Fox got their starts in the same way.”
Flores had mentioned the Super Bowl during debate week, but it was Stone and Carey who maintained the relationship, which led to their being hired on for the show.
“We both had our hopes high for the opportunity to work on the Super Bowl,” said Stone. “When we found out, we called our parents and then rushed to our department chairs to make sure we could take a week off school. It’s really like having a second once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—I couldn’t have imagined this happening.”
I was impressed by [Allyson's and Ryan's] attitude, work ethic and persistence, which led directly to the opportunity for them in Houston. Many people who work at Fox got their starts in the same way.Fox News producer Pete Flores
Carey, a nursing major from Virginia Beach, will miss a regular clinical rotation—but Dr. Deborah Ulmer, chair of the nursing department, was happy to help reschedule. For Stone, a communication studies major from Chesapeake with plans to work in journalism or public relations, working both the Vice Presidential Debate and the Super Bowl is an unparalleled professional opportunity.
“Some of students’ most important learning comes when they apply what they learn in the classroom to real work experiences,” said Dr. Naomi Johnson, chair of communication studies. “Allyson’s work with Fox News during the debate will set her apart from many other graduates, and her contacts will jump-start her career. I was not surprised that she made such an impression on the Fox staff, and continuing that relationship at another mega-event this February is an invaluable professional development opportunity.”
Their work in Houston will likely mirror their roles at the debate—a little bit of everything, from glamorous time in front of a camera testing different angles to critical behind-the-scenes work—with one catch: neither has been to Texas before, so the local knowledge that Flores leaned on in October will be missing.
“On the first day, Pete gave us a critical job,” said Carey. “We had to figure out the safest and fastest route from the Fox stage at Lankford to the security perimeter entrance near the Health and Fitness Center for the talent to go back and forth—around the construction and busy roads and fenced-off areas. That was our first task every morning. It won’t be the same in Houston, but he knows he can count on us to work hard and figure out solutions to whatever crops up.”
And while they may not be in the stands watching the game with 80,000 other screaming fans, they’ll be working behind the stage that tens of millions of people will watch—and they wouldn’t have it any other way.