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Medill Cherubs are most diverse class yet

The 2013 class for the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute, also known as Medill Cherubs, set a record for the highest number of international and minority participants to enroll in the program.

About 40 percent of this year’s class indicated minority status on their applications. Of the 84 students who have enrolled in the program, seven hail from outside the U.S. Coming from 22 different U.S. states and Guam, as well as France, El Salvador, Taiwan, Indonesia, China and Canada, the 2013 class is a diverse mix of talent.

“The students are highly motivated, there’s so much excitement the moment they arrive on campus,” said Associate Professor Emeritus-in-Service Roger Boye, who has served as the Institute’s director since 1985.

“They’re just eager, just ready to get started,” he said. “That continues throughout the program.”

Medill Cherubs trains rising high school seniors in digital, print, audio and broadcast journalism. The five-week summer course is designed for top-notch high school students who are passionate about developing journalism skills.

The program is taught by returning staff members, including Professor Charles Whitaker, Mary Lou Song (BSJ91), Sarahmaria Gomez (BSJ05), Cynthia Wang (BSJ93), John Kupetz (MSJ76) and Joe Grimm. Two of this year’s BSJ graduates, Katie Prentiss and Shirley Li, will also teach at the program.

“My high school didn’t have very many journalism opportunities, so my experience with Cherubs is really the only formal training I had before Medill,” said Prentiss, who participated in the 2008 program. “It really made me fall in love with journalism.”

Medill Cherubs has adapted to the changing nature of media in recent years with participants now studying the impact of social media on journalism and learning digital reporting techniques.

“All of the students will be building a website from scratch in about a week,” said Prentiss. “They produce all of the content for that website, and that website acts as the portal for future students to learn about the program.”

Although Cherubs participants take many of the same lectures, smaller sections are split up so as to facilitate better discussion. Workshops are also offered in more specific tracks, such as TV news editing or fashion writing.

Cherubs have time set aside from their journalism classes to explore Evanston and socialize with their peers. Trips to Chicago are also planned, including a visit to the Tribune Tower and other media outlets.

This year’s program takes place June 30 to August 2 on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Cherubs will live in the East Fairchild dorm, also known as the Communications Residential College, which offers a taste of college life during the five-week program.

“The last day, as people have said over the years, the students leave in a flood of tears,” Boye said. “You’ll see a lot of them come back as freshmen the following year and lifelong friendships develop out of the program. It’s remarkable that all of that will happen in just five weeks but it does.”