Four cherubs return as staff in 2016

Most cherubs get to experience the program only once, but for this year’s four community associates, once was not enough. They came back two years after they were cherubs, and this time they experienced a different side of the program as staff members. The CAs planned activities, supervised field trips, handled medical problems, edited and provided a strong support system for cherubs.

Rishika Dugyala, Kelli Nguyen, Dan Waldman and Erica Snow answered some questions about their lives as CAs and what the cherub program means to them. Some answers have been edited for brevity.

Rishika Dugyala

Q: Did the cherub program influence your decision to come to Northwestern?

A: I had a taste of what the Medill curriculum was like through cherubs, but it mainly came down to the fact that Northwestern makes you receive such a broad knowledge in journalism. You have to learn and know everything. Even if Medill might not have the most modern facilities, it’s very progressive in its thinking and shaping students into the journalists that are getting hired today.

Q: What are your plans for the next few years?

A: I know I want to be a journalist in the field. I want to report and do investigative reporting, whether that’s social justice primarily, or political. I want to focus on multimedia storytelling and newspaper. After spending a decent time in the field I want to transition over to teaching in a university.

Kelli Nguyen

Q: How was your experience as a CA different from when you were a cherub?

A: The main difference is what my focus is. As a cherub my focus was learning and bettering myself, but as a CA my focus is doing things to better [the cherubs’] experiences. Now, instead of helping myself, I’m helping other people.

Q: What are your plans for the next few years?

A: I plan to keep working with The Daily [Northwestern and doing design. I don’t see myself being a journalist after college, but I know I’ll definitely keep journalism in whatever I do, because the skills you learn in journalism are so valuable in the real world. Even if you’re not doing journalism, being able to talk to people and being able to write will help you anywhere.

Dan Waldman

Q: What did you get out of your cherub experience?

A: The change in my writing is drastic. It’s amazing how much you improve as a journalist and your writing becomes so much more concise. Another thing I got out of it was such a great support system of friends, many of whom I still keep in touch with. It’s a very close community that stays close forever.

Q: What are your plans for the next few years?

A: When I got here I was very torn because I knew I wanted to do journalism, but I also really liked business and economics. So when Mary Lou Song spoke to us my year it really resonated with me. I’m very interested in startup culture. Something I really like about journalism is developing your own voice and defining your own brand. As opportunities arise, take them because you don’t know where they’ll take you.

Erica Snow

Q: What has been your favorite part of being a CA?

A: I love being a CA even more than being a cherub because you get to see all different sides of the program and you know everything that’s going on. I didn’t get to talk to 84 cherubs and all of the instructors when I was in the program, but now I get to be a part of all of it.

Q: What are your plans for the next few years?

A: I’m double majoring in political science and in journalism, and once I graduate I hope to be a reporter. I probably want to be a political reporter, locally, maybe in Illinois, and write about the intersection of politics and people.