They always say do something that you’re both passionate about and that you’re good at doing. I’ve always loved writing. I also have a curious mind – I want to seek out more knowledge, and to learn as much as possible. In college, I found myself drawn to the storytelling and communications aspects that I found in my Journalism major in the College of Media. I also added minors in History, Political Science and Public Relations, all of which added additional dynamics to my interests in truth-seeking, crisis management, and integrating multiple points of view.

Some of my most meaningful experiences at Illinois came through my Journalism experiences outside the classroom. I wrote for the Daily Illini – an essential experience for every journalist, whether you are involved in print or broadcast. The variety of types of stories you write with the Daily Illini provides invaluable practice. I was also involved in the student-run production, Good Morning Illini. This was a close-knit group. We worked hard, with a million things to do to pull off a morning show each Friday, but we learned so much! And, the alumni network is great. I still keep in touch with many of these alums who are working in DC, New York or Chicago. It is nice to know that I can get advice from so many great sources. Finally, I was involved in the competitive Illinois Trial Team. I started with this group because I considered law school for a time. I was surprised to see how well this experience utilized my journalism skills. I was able to be particularly effective in thinking critically about various sides of issues and writing compelling arguments due to skills acquired in my journalism curriculum. It was cool to see how this went hand in hand with my major.

Through a variety of Journalism experiences at Illinois, I came to appreciate that this field is a big responsibility. In many ways, the articles that journalists write are a first draft of history. There are so many important stories that exist. We need to represent more diverse stories and viewpoints that have been present in the past. I am really excited to take this knowledge and to do what I can with it.

I’m now a Digital News Producer for NBC Chicago. I started at NBC as an intern in the NBC Investigates unit the summer before senior year. A specific full-time position offer was not available as that summer ended, but my boss had encouraged me to keep in contact throughout the year – to keep emailing, even if she didn’t respond. That is what I did – I persistently interacted with them. When this current role became available, they knew I was ready and willing to jump in. It is a new role that intertwines broadcast media into digital platforms such as Apple TV, Roku and more. We help transition NBC broadcast stories to writing for the website and apps, as well as handling push notifications and social media.

It is an important time to be doing this work. The digital realm of journalism is so new, and we’re still growing and learning this form of media together. Additionally, so many unfortunate events are happening in the world around us – with the coronavirus, everything that was going on with the election and everything that went on over the summer with Black Lives Matter protests. I appreciate the opportunity to be following these challenges so closely and to be a liaison to keep people informed. It is so necessary. There’s so much online that is so misleading. To be a voice that hopefully provides some clarity has been a really great opportunity.

For current students, I empathize with you – it’s a crazy time to be in college. But, also remember that it’s a historic time to be in college. People are going to be asking for years: “What were you doing during the pandemic? What was your role?” You can say, “I was the middle of my college education.” That’s a great experience and that’s going to give you your own life skills. If we can push through the end of it, maybe later we’ll be able to think back to how blessed we are to be here, working through it together. Remember, the current situation is only temporary. Go forward confidently, and listen and learn from everyone around you.