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Planting seeds of opportunity: Stacy Steponate and Mike Greenberg Scholarship

New scholarship helps students in need access the best journalism training

July 17, 2018 | By Kaitlyn Thompson (BSJ11, IMC17)
Medill alumni Mike Greenberg and Stacy Steponate Greenberg
Medill alumni Stacy Steponate Greenberg (IMC95) and Mike Greenberg (BSJ89)

Medill alumni Mike Greenberg (BSJ89) and Stacy Steponate Greenberg (IMC95) are giving back to the alma mater that gave them so much.

The Stacy Steponate and Mike Greenberg Scholarship was created in 2017 to support undergraduate students with need. While the duo has consistently donated their time and energy to Medill over the years, the Greenbergs say the idea for a scholarship was a natural way to grow their commitment to the university.

“This feels like a time in our world where it has never been more important to have well-trained journalists,” Greenberg said. “What better way to give back to the university than to individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to have a strong journalism education.”

Steponate Greenberg says she owes her career to Medill, and is grateful to extend the community to more students.

“Medill gave me such a strong foundation in writing and communications,” Steponate Greenberg said. “If you know how to write, you can get your point across in a clear way, and people can understand you. My Medill professors helped me solidify that skill plus a purpose and a focus, which I am so grateful for.”

From the start, both credit Medill for launching their careers—Greenberg, an undergraduate degree in journalism; Steponate Greenberg, a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. A mutual connection to Northwestern introduced them, and both say their individual time at Medill connected them in many ways, including sharing learnings from the same professor, David Nelson.

Since then, the Greenbergs have enjoyed successful careers in journalism and marketing communications. Steponate Greenberg is a columnist, author and former marketing executive. Greenberg has been at ESPN for more than 20 years, hosting “Mike & Mike” for 18, and is an author of four books. He also received the school’s top honor, the Medill Hall of Achievement Award, in 2016.

Greenberg says an early college experience on the Medill Undergraduate Student Advisory Council (MUSAC) solidified the importance of giving back for him. As a sophomore, it was his job to procure an interesting speaker for an event. When he reached out to alumni asking if they would come back to campus to speak, no one responded.

“I never forgot that moment,” Greenberg said. “I would have loved it then if someone from ESPN came and talked to us students about how they got to be where they were today.”

Now when he visits Medill to speak, Greenberg puts his personal contact information on the whiteboard so any student who wants to can reach out. He always encourages alums who have a connection to Medill to find a way to make a difference, and today, he’s not the only one giving back.

“I am proud to say that so many members of the media are actively involved at Medill—from Mike Wilbon (BSJ80), to Christine Brennan (BSJ80, MSJ81), to J.A. Adande (BSJ92), just to name a few,” Greenberg said. “It’s an indication of how special a place Medill is to all of us.”

The Stacy Steponate and Mike Greenberg Scholarship awarded its first recipient in fall 2017, Medill junior Melody Park. Park is seeking a double-major in journalism and economics with a Segal Design Certificate. She studied at Northwestern’s San Francisco campus in winter 2017 as a part of Medill’s Media Tech Innovation Immersion. Beyond her academic pursuits, Park is a member of the Northwestern University Community for Human Rights (NUCHR), Design for America, and the Gamma Phi Beta sorority.

Park says she has never doubted her place at Medill, a school she says has encouraged her to grow. She takes pride in being a Medill student and carries even more pride with her as a Steponate Greenberg Scholarship recipient, she says.

“Medill has added so much to my life both academically and personally,” Park said. “I am so grateful to receive the Steponate Greenberg Scholarship, as it has reaffirmed to me that this school will support me well beyond my college years.”

The Greenbergs intend for the scholarship to continue for many years to come. For them, this is just the beginning.

“Creating a scholarship felt like planting a seed,” Greenberg said. “A seed doesn’t just grow into a tree one time. A seed grows into a tree, more seeds fall off, more grow. The impact of one planted seed then can be spread five-fold. I hope years from now, we’ll be talking about dozens and dozens of people who had the opportunity to go to the best journalism school in the world.”

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