At the end of this summer, Lauren Manning (BSJ13) won’t be hopping on a plane back to Evanston as she normally would. But instead, she will be heading to Gulu, Uganda, to spend a year working as a communications officer with Invisible Children as a Princeton in Africa (PiAf) fellow.
My reasons for pursuing this fellowship are strikingly similar to what prompted me to attend Northwestern. I came to Northwestern to major in journalism, but the primary selling point was the journalism residency program in South Africa. I’ve always had a broad-based interest in the entire African continent, enhanced by my passion for international development, globalization and my desire to better understand societies in transition. When I learned about PiAf during my sophomore year, it became something I was interested in pursuing. And, from what I’ve seen, PiAf is a large community of passionate people, similar to what I have loved finding while at Medill.
What do you hope to gain from the experience?
In working in communications, I am looking to build off of my previous experience with non-profit work as well as at a range of publications. Ultimately, I want to work as a reporter, but if my brief stints abroad have taught me anything, it’s that I am craving the opportunity to spend more time learning about new cultures and communities. In order to effectively understand a topic, such as the balance between the non-profit world and local communities, I believe one must experience it. Telling stories trump statistics and I am looking to work directly where impact is felt. I have taken classes focused on everything from foreign policy to youth experience and global health, but the greatest lessons come from direct engagement. Even with traditional journalism as my ultimate career goal, I aim to use this step to establish connections, stop simply asking questions as a journalist would, and start advancing a cause.
How has Medill prepared you for this experience?
It’s crazy to think how many opportunities I have had over the last few years that have set me up for this position. I have always looked for travel opportunities and spent three months on my journalism residency in South Africa, recently return to Cape Town on an Eric Lund Global Reporting and Research grant this past April. I also visited Malawi and Jordan for respective reporting experiences through the Refugee Lives project. Beyond this, however, Medill has also reminded me the value of passion. I begun to recognize the importance of finding what makes you tick and running with it.