Hilde Lysiak, a 12-year-old crime reporter, gave a commencement speech at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media on Friday, making her possibly the youngest person to ever address a college graduating class. This accomplishment is nothing new for the preteen journalist, who began reporting hard news before she had hit double digits. Lysiak first came to national attention when she covered a homicide in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, for her own newspaper, the Orange Street News. She went viral a couple of years later, after she stood up to a police officer in Arizona who threatened to arrest Lysiak for filming him while he was on duty. The town later issued her an apology.
During her speech Friday, Lysiak quickly addressed the elephant in the room: her age. “Let me address a few thoughts that I’m sure are going through your head right now: ‘I’m $80,000 in debt and my school can’t even afford a full grown human to give the commencement speech,’” Lysiak joked. With that out of the way, her speech moved on to some of the journalism lessons she’s learned throughout her young career. Lysiak reminded graduates to “keep your ledes tight... talk to real people,” and “trust no one.” “And most importantly of all, stay laser focused on the truth,” Lysiak said. “If you do these things, I believe that history will look back on this moment not as the last dark days before the profession of journalism died, but as the new beginning.”