Official group photo of the 2015 Journalism Cherubs. Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.
St. Lucy's Priory High School

Medill Cherubs provide valuable journalism experience

Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.

It has been a month since Medill Cherubs came to a conclusion, but not a day goes by when I do not think about it.

Medill Cherubs, or better known as the Medill-Northwestern Summer Journalism Institute, is a five-week program where 84 rising high-school seniors from across the nation and abroad come together to immerse themselves in all things journalism at the Medill School of Journalism in Northwestern University. Although I could not figure out why we were called “cherubs,” I think it was because we were “fresh” to the college experience and soon, we would “fly away” with our experiences and the great deal of knowledge we acquired during these five weeks. 

Trading the comforts of Los Angeles for uncharted territory for over a month petrified me. This was the first time I was going to be 2000 miles away from my parents, truly left to my own devices, and surrounded by 83 strangers day in and day out.

Upon my arrival, I could not help but notice nine words written on the pathway leading to the dorm I would reside in: “Get ready for the best summer of your life!”

I honestly thought this was an understatement; would this really be the best summer of my life? That answer, filled with so much uncertainty, was to be determined on the last day of the program.

Looking over the schedule and seeing how each day was planned was overwhelming yet exciting. In the first week, I had to complete not just one but two articles, and having a limited amount of time is what worried me the most. I was not used to having two days to interview and write an article, or have the deadline be the day it was assigned.

Despite this, I was looking forward to meeting the other 83 cherubs and finding out what they loved about journalism and where they envisioned themselves in the field years from now.

Me and the 83 other attendees of the program. Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.
First group photo of Medill Cherubs 2015 at the Northwestern University Lakefill. Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.

By the end of the week, I overcame my fear of interviewing people at irregular intervals and began enjoying it more and more as the program progressed. No longer was I hindered by the thought of rejection or being bothersome, but I came to appreciate the various perspectives I received on a certain issue.

In the second week, I fell in love with Chicago when we went on a boat ride through and around the city. Though I became a little homesick, the architecture of the buildings was captivating and seeing them blend into the vastness of Lake Michigan was absolutely lovely.

A snapshot of the boat ride. Photo by Abigail Felix.
A snapshot of the boat ride. Photo by Abigail Felix.

As the third week went into full swing, we faced the inevitable, the assignment of ultimate importance: the trend story. This assignment asked us to identify an issue or trend that we believed was significant, but had not received a lot of attention by the media.

I covered the issue of the steady decline of Asian Americans in newsrooms across the United States. For one week my time was devoted to interviewing multiple people in the journalism field, transcribing these interviews, and writing an article based on research and my interviews. Beforehand, I avoided talking to people on the phone as much as possible, but after this, I realized that doing so is not only unavoidable but essential in this field.

I experienced broadcast journalism for the first time during the fourth week, and learned just how complex it is on and off screen. I did a mock live shot from a specific location in less than a minute. Attempting to do all of this in a 30-minute time frame was not as easy as it seems on television.

Once an instructor gave me the signal to begin, my breathing diminished and my hands became clammy. Seconds after I conveyed all of the information, I continued looking back and forth from the note card in my hand to the camera. In the end, I was content at how I trudged through this seemingly insurmountable feat.

When we went into Chicago for the media field trips, I was a part of the group that visited the WLS-ABC 7 news station.

As we entered the newsroom, I became excited as I envisioned the hustle and bustle that would take place with breaking news, but the real action happened when we were in the control room.

Each of the monitors plastered on the wall contained images varying from live shots to advertisements, while the numerous lights on the control boxes emanated various colors. In a few minutes, we were going to watch a live newscast happen before our eyes.

I was amazed at how the anchor read the teleprompter flawlessly while showcasing affability to his audience. Towards the end of our trip, we were able to sit at the anchor desks and stand in front of the green screen and pretend to be meteorologists.

At the WLS-ABC 7 anchor desk. Photo taken by Ashley Jun.
At the WLS-ABC 7 anchor desk. Photo taken by Ashley Jun.

During the last week of the program everyone came together to build the 2015 Medill Cherubs website in three days. In that span of time, I coded for the first time and designed a page with one of my fellow cherubs.

The night before the last day of the program, all of us celebrated the arduous work we completed throughout the program with Cherub prom. All night we danced and sang our hearts out with one another, no matter how off-key we sounded or how crazy our dance moves were.

The following morning, my friends and I woke up at 5 a.m. to watch the sunrise. In this moment of time, I had a sudden flashback of all that happened during these five weeks. I could not bring myself to accept that the program was coming to an end. I cried then and there, but as I watched the ducks swim away toward the sunrise, I found myself thinking of how all of us have been together for five weeks and are now going our separate ways.

Ducks swimming towards the sunrise. Photo by Abigail Felix.
Photo by Abigail Felix.

No longer were these 83 individuals strangers to me; they were people who each had an unyielding passion for journalism and were now friends I would keep for a lifetime. With this, all of the experiences I had, the valuable lessons I learned, and the people I met throughout this program, I believe I did indeed have the best summer of my life.

Official group photo of the 2015 Journalism Cherubs. Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.
Official group photo of the 2015 Journalism Cherubs. Courtesy of Medill Cherubs.

For more information, visit, or contact me (@itsabigailfelix) and former cherubs via Twitter.

Applications for 2016 will be available by Oct. 2015.