Dear future cherubs: Letter from one who knows

Cherubs participate in Junior Junior Olympics. Photo by Roger Boye.

Cherubs participate in Junior Junior Olympics. Photo by Roger Boye.

Dear future cherubs,

I had no idea about this program until a month before the application deadline. I learned about it from my editor-in-chief, who went to the program the summer before I did. I thought to myself, “Who would really want to study journalism for five weeks?” There was a ton of other things I could’ve done with my summer.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The opportunities that you get at the Medill cherub program are unparalleled. In the span of five weeks, we visited publications like the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, heard from speakers who worked at the likes of Al-Jazeera, ESPN and People magazine, and learned from CEOs and magazine editors.

Hearing from such accomplished people and taking in their tips made me want to absorb everything I could. The Medill cherub program didn’t just teach me how to improve my high school paper (although there is a workshop for that taught by the revered John Kupetz). It taught me how to be a better journalist.

News writing. Features writing. Editorial writing. Advanced interviewing techniques. However you want to improve as a journalist, this program lets you do that. Everybody here has that one breakthrough moment as a journalist when you feel like you are on top of the world.

For me that came when I was working on my trend story, the de facto capstone project of the program. I was having a tough time trying to find sources, especially since I needed to interview former NFL players to write a good story. It felt like my story was falling apart, but after roughly 25 calls, I finally got to interview Ryan Clark, a former Pro Bowl player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The best part was that in the interview I didn’t fall to the pressure of talking to an NFL player, and I ended with the best 15 minutes of quotes I have ever gotten in my journalism career.

Medill cherubs has not only made me a better journalist, but it has also made me a better speaker, writer, interviewer and person. There just isn’t another environment where you’ll run into 80+ other students who enjoy journalism to this extent or who want to absorb the ideas and skills of the people around them.

I promise.