One cherub, two cherubs, red cherubs, blue cherubs

Two girls smile at the camera.

Brooke Deasy (left) and Gigi Cepeda (right) pose together in Fisk Hall. Despite living on different floors, they boast a strong friendship. Photo by Kirsten Huh

My six best friends back home agree on every political topic.

Pro-choice? Check. Equal pay? Check. DACA? Check. Net neutrality? Check again.

Imagine my surprise when, during the first week at Medill, my best cherub friend mentioned her political standings. Brooke was conservative. I had never had a conservative friend.

I’m sure I gave her a crazy look when she told me her family supports Trump. In fact, I know I did because for the next few days she would make snide comments like, “Just because they’re Republican doesn’t mean you have to hate them.”

I didn’t hate all Republicans — they were just a foreign species to me. Sure, there are Republicans at my school. But, for the most part, they hide in the shadows.

I consider myself an open-minded person. I avoid confrontation like the plague. I give people the benefit of the doubt, and I force a smile when I disagree with someone. In political conversations, I say, “I see both sides,” just to make sure everyone feels comfortable.

I couldn’t wrap my head around being close friends with a conservative. Soon, I realized I wasn’t as open-minded as I thought I was.

Being open-minded means debating arguments respectfully. It means not talking over the other person.

Many young Democrats are so focused on being #woke, they forget what it means to be awake and to listen.

If you come to the Medill cherub program, you will meet people from all over the world. You will meet people from across the political spectrum. You will meet people with vastly different life experiences.

You will realize you too live in a bubble. We all have one. To be a journalist, you have to pop the bubble and step out onto the other side to take a peek around.

If you have a true interest in journalism, the Medill cherub program is the place for you. Not to sit in a lecture hall and learn about writing ledes, although you will do that. Not to walk in the streets of Evanston and interview helpless civilians, although you will do that, too.

To end the polarization of journalism, we need to become a generation of reporters who listen. And who better to listen to than young people, representatives of cities around the world, with the same passion for ethics and truth?

On any given day, you can find Brooke and me at a cafeteria table, alongside other friends, arguing over politics. We often debate affirmative action, political correctness and arming teachers.

The discussions may get heated, but I always walk away with a better understanding of other perspectives. As a journalist, that is all we can really ask for: a clearer view of just how complex the world can be.