Caitlin Westerholm knew she wanted to pursue meteorology but was leery about the idea of broadcasting. That was until her experiences at Millersville University led her to an on-air position at WBNG 12 in Binghamton, New York.
Westerholm is a meteorology major with a concentration in broadcast and minor in emergency management who is set to graduate next month. She hails from Larksville, Pennsylvania and is involved in the Millersville campus weather service, Millersville’s Chapter of the American Meteorological Society and an executive producer of the student produced web show, Weather Watch.
“I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the degree. Honestly, when I was a freshman, broadcast was something I never thought I would have the confidence to do,” Westerholm shares. “Then, I actually was able to tour a local news station near where I live, and started taking part in the broadcast meteorology club, Weather Watch.”
“If I never took the risk of getting in front of a camera back then, I’m not sure where I would be now,” says Westerholm, who began her part-time position with WBNG 12 after working with the station as an intern.
“I was actually an intern at WBNG in the summers of 2018 and 2019. When 2020 rolled around, I was looking to get an internship somewhere else,” says Westerholm. “Then, the Chief Meteorologist at WBNG that I worked with throughout my internship called me and asked if I would be interested in working part time, on-air there during the summer while they were down a meteorologist and looking for a full-time replacement. I don’t think I could’ve said ‘yes’ fast enough!”
Due to courses being moved online in the fall of 2020, Westerholm was able to continue working for WBNG 12 while in school.
“My favorite part of working there was being able to get so much on-air experience. Prior to this year, I practiced in front of the green screen and recorded some forecasts, but actually being in the live newscast was a different experience,” Westerholm shares. “Growing up, I would always watch the news and think it was the coolest thing to be a meteorologist and news anchor on TV, so it was crazy to think that now I was the meteorologist on the news. During my time there, I was able to cover all types of weather events from tornado warnings to a major snowstorm that dropped 40 inches plus of snow across the area.”
But it wasn’t always easy balancing a part-time job in broadcasting with her schoolwork, Westerholm says. “There were a lot of days where I was very tired, but it was well worth it. I tried to get most of my schoolwork done on days that I wasn’t working so I wouldn’t have much to worry about while I was at work.”
“There were also some days where my work and school schedule interfered with each other and I would have to go to into work early to log on to zoom for class,” Westerholm shares, “I was really lucky that everyone at WBNG was incredibly understanding that I was still in school and allowed me to do whatever I needed to do to make sure school was still my top priority.”
Westerholm thanks her colleagues at WBNG 12 for helping her make the most of her experience. “From day one, everyone was so helpful, and incredibly welcoming to me and I was so grateful for that.”
Westerholm says she knew Millersville was the perfect fit for her when she was searching for colleges. “Millersville was one of the first places I toured, and I loved the campus itself, but the meteorology department really stood out to me,” she says. “I knew that by attending Millersville I would get an amazing education through a caring faculty, as well as the opportunity to take part in any extra-curricular activities that interested me.”
She advises other students to stick with meteorology if the major is truly their passion. “I would also tell other meteorology students that if they love meteorology, to stick with it. I’ll be the first person to tell you that meteorology is hard. It requires a lot of dedication, time and patience. It can also be discouraging and stressful at times when things don’t seem to be working out as planned,” Westerholm explains. “In the end, the struggles of going through all the math and science courses will be worth it because you’ll be in a career field that you absolutely love.”
Westerholm looks forward to her next steps. “I’ll be graduating from Millersville in May and am starting to look around for my first full time broadcast meteorologist job. I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but I am very excited to see where the rest of 2021 takes me!”