What a year at Medill, partially in person, partially virtual, my experience was for sure unusual. My favorite Medill memory is the time spent with my marketing research project group, which magically turned into (finger-crossed!) life-long friends. The challenges and opportunities we faced at IMC were incredible – smart classmates, prestigious faculty, and constant real-life challenges. All of these helped me to transition from a traditional advertiser to a data and martech enthusiast.
I had to talk my way back into Medill after saying “no” (mistake!) and DID! A high school article I wrote on college admissions was my lucky charm then, during Teaching Newspaper, when I updated it for the front page, as a William Randolph Hearst writing competition winner, and inspired my career, too. I absolutely credit my Medill education with launching me into the writing & editing space (after understanding I needed to experience advertising, business, and PR, also). My favorite Professor, Roger Boye, shared this picture with me, and that lucky charm article is still significant to me today!
Stories are the combining thread, woven through time that unite us all as humans. We connect to stories, and Medill taught me that brands must connect. I owe my strategic approach to human connection to my studies at Medill. From captivating professors to challenging projects, I was able to hone the skills needed to be confident and successful in my dream career. Storytelling is more than just a buzzword at Medill, and the IMC program taught me that journalistic roots combined with the right business sense, makes a successful marketer. I am better because of Medill.
Fond memories of two memorable journalists who inspired and encouraged me – Elizabeth Yamashita and John Bartlow Martin. And as someone who went through the Washington program, who can ever forget the wire service machine, its infernal bells, and Lynn Langway’s frantic, “Check it for me!”
When I speak to young journalists, I share the best advice I learned at Medill: Find good mentors who will challenge you and continue to light and nurture your curiosity. And there are so many — thank you Abe Peck, David Protess, Charles Whitaker, and all. Still the best day in my career was watching David Dowaliby walk free from Stateville Correctional Center after Protess, Rob Warden, Paul Hogan (NBC5), and I worked for more than a year on his wrongful conviction case.
Favorite memory: Afternoons and evenings in the Fisk Hall basement, banging on a typewriter, editing the The Daily Northwestern and sending page layouts on a prehistoric fax machine to the Chicago printing plant. Medill instilled the high ethical standards that, after guiding me through four decades as a reporter and bureau chief all over the world, I now help oversee and enforce as the London-based Standards Editor of The Wall Street Journal.
What I learned from Medill was more than I bargained for. It’s prepared me for an unexpected and exciting career path I didn’t anticipate nor really imagined for myself. But, it’s been such an exciting ride. My best piece of advice while at Medill is to soak it all up and in. The soft and hard skills you learn will of course prepare you for the obvious — a newsroom, an editorial beat — but it will also prepare you for success in a variety of other fields. If working as a journalist, in media, is your goal — go for it. But, don’t be forlorn or feel your time was wasted if that isn’t the path that unfolds for you. I guarantee what you end up experiencing will be 100 times better than you thought was possible.
As a broadcast journalist covering Washington, I use what I learned at Medill daily. My professors instilled in me a commitment to telling a story that is accurate and in-depth, and treating subjects and sources with integrity. I also learned–and continue to learn–from my fellow classmates, several of whom remain close personal friends. It has been a joy to see their careers blossom and to reconnect whenever the Wildcats make it to a bowl game.
One thing that I took away from Medill that helps me in almost every endeavor I undertake till this day is empathetic storytelling—the ability to understand the person or situation you are covering and giving it a just light. I gained that through the diverse perspectives and global experiences offered at Northwestern—studying at both campuses in Qatar and the US, completing my residency in Washington, DC, and participating in various global immersion trips at NU-Q.
I experienced the full range of the Medill experience in my time as an undergrad, grad student, staff member and adjunct faculty member. It is the place where I grew into the communications professional that I am today. I learned from, worked with and taught so many wonderful people over the years, and I can trace so many opportunities in my life back to Medill in some way. Here’s to the next 100!