Northwestern Medill Cherubs High School Journalism Program Reflection

This month two years ago I was accepted into a prestigious high school journalism program at Northwestern University. The Medill Cherubs program accepts only 84 students from across the country to spend a summer in Evanston, Illinois learning all things journalism, from videos to design to web to writing. The five week intensive program prepared me for Mizzou journalism in a way I never anticipated. Today I share with you my experiences as a 2014 Medill Cherub. 

The application process included portfolio samples, a resume and an essay. The program itself cost $5200 but I was fortunate enough to be awarded a scholarship that covered most of the expenses. Regardless of your financial situation, I highly recommend applying for a scholarship.

From a social perspective, it took me a while to get acclimated. It was the longest I'd ever spent from home and away from my family but I formed friendships and connections that I still maintain today. One of the biggest benefits of the program is meeting other highly motivated students going into the field of journalism. One piece of advice I would give is to take the initiative to talk to those students around you and learn about them and from them. I've even met former Cherubs at Mizzou who have taken me under their wing and mentored me within the school of journalism and beyond.

I would argue that the biggest strength of the program is the professors that run it. Our faculty leaders consisted of journalism professors both from Northwestern and elsewhere. The knowledge and experience than imparted upon us was invaluable and serves me today as I continue with my career in journalism.

The amount of hands-on work we were given is the best thing I took away from the program. We did man-on-the-street interviews, created a website, wrote weekly blog posts, took weekly photos and more. The trend story we wrote is to date my favorite piece of journalism that I've ever written. All the assignments forced me out of my comfort zone and truly immersed me in the field I'm pursuing. While it was daunting, the rewards of producing great journalism ensured me that I was pursuing my passion.

So for any young high school journalist aspiring to better themselves as a writer, videographer, photographer, designer, or web designer, I truly feel like the Northwestern Medill cherubs program is a great place to start and grow.

A video produced by 2014 Cherubs

Three tips for a college journalist/journalism major

Although I’ve been a college journalism major for less than a year, I’ve had plenty of experiences and many mentors to guide me through the ins and outs of being a student journalist at Mizzou. There is more to being a student at the top J-school in the nation than just AP style and rule of thirds. Today I share with you my top four tips on being the best j-major you can be. When you're done reading, watch the video at the bottom of the post for a short introduction to what journalism FIGs are like at the University of Missouri.

1. DO FREELANCE

Being in college and away from an environment close to home present a unique opportunity to report on stories completely foreign to you. Take this opportunity and run with it. Not every piece your produce or article you write needs to be for a class or club. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he says that it takes around ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. So, the more work you do, the better you will be. Start a blog to share your work. Someday, you can turn this into a professional online portfolio for potential employers to see or just a record of your growth as a journalist.

2. MAKE USE OF RESOURCES ON CAMPUS

Did you know that you can rent umbrellas from the journalism library? Or that you can check out monopods from the equipment lab? Or that you can rent out business professional clothes for your next internship interview? Or that, after a stressful day of filming, you can use the massage chair in the Wellness Center for 15 minutes? All of these resources on campus are free and can contribute to not only your academic and career success, but also your overall wellbeing.

3. JOIN BOTH JOURNALISM AND NON-JOURNALISM ACTIVITIES

The only journalism-related activity I’m in is being a creative designer for MUTV, Mizzou’s student run TV program. Other than that, I am a member of the Student Unions Programming Board, Outreach, the Asian American Association and more. My other activities provide a much needed outlet of relief away from all things journalism. You don’t want to get burnt out on journalism, so while it is important to be involved and hone your trade, it is even more important to maintain a healthy balance.