By Camm Ashford
Award-winning WTVC NewsChannel 9 personality Greg Funderburg last Wednesday met with Camp REACH teens to share the importance of getting an education, setting goals and remaining optimistic.
Funderburg told around 40 students how he was bullied in school for “talking like a white person” and how one of his high school teachers “told me that journalism wasn’t for me.”
“I was a shy kid and I remember at times getting really depressed when I was in high school,” he said. “But at the end of the day, when I think about the moments when those kids were picking on me, if I would have listened to a lot of those things, I would not have been prepared for so many opportunities I’ve had in my career. My teacher told me that TV news may not be the career for me and I should change my path, but I used her negative comments as ammunition to succeed. So I want to encourage you guys, don’t worry about what other people got to say.”
Based at Hope City Church, the Mary Walker Historical and Educational Foundation Camp REACH began June 6 and ends July 14. The camp promotes literacy using the Lexia reading program and pays students a stipend of up to $150 a week while exposing them to careers in journalism, painting and logistics. REACH is an acronym for Respect, Earn, Achieve, Citizenship and Hard Work.
Funderburg, also an author and motivational speaker, said he strives to be a role model to show others if a little boy from the small town of Sylacauga, Ala. could grow up and follow his wildest dreams they could too.
“Chattanooga is such a wonderful place,” he said. “And Chattanooga is a great place to live in, but I want you guys to think longer and bigger. Think outside of Chattanooga.Think about going to college, and being able to come back into the city to do things. Because God can dream a bigger dream than what you could ever dream yourself.”
Funderburg also warned the students, “When you’re in school or summer camp, one bad decision can really change the outlook of how people may portray you and how they view you. So I encourage students your age to really think about what you’re going to do, and how you’re going to respond to certain situations. Because a lot of times, the thing is just not worth it.”
Funderburg introduced the students to his current intern, Zapouria Wadley, a former student at Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy who now attends Mississippi Valley State University. Wadley majors in mass communications, with a concentration in both broadcasting and print journalism.
Wadley talked with and took pictures with some of the students.
At 17, Funderburg started his television career as a morning host with The Abrams Broadcasting Company in Sylacauga, Ala.
Prior to joining the WTVC news team in July 2013, he was a reporter and fill-in anchor with the FOX affiliate in Greenville, S.C. The veteran broadcaster has also made stops at other stations throughout the southern region including Columbus, Ga. and Birmingham, Ala.
“I am so blessed to have amazing parents, family and friends who have pushed me to reach my goals,” he said.
In his free time, Funderburg loves watching scary movies, likes to travel, enjoys working out at the gym and appreciates spending quality time with family and friends. Holding memberships with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists, he has a mass communications degree from the University of Montevallo.