The Everyday History Major Experience
Graduation number 2022
People often ask me: “Where did you do your JR? At Northwestern, students at the Medill School of Journalism spend a quarter doing their journalism residency at a newsroom or company that interests them. I’m often tempted to say something funny and pretentious like, “Oh, The New York Times, how about you?
But usually, I just remind them that I’m not studying journalism. I study history and have never taken a Medill course. Next year, I’ll be teaching in college—not becoming a journalist.
In fact, I had no intention of writing for The Daily when I arrived in September 2018. I was the editor of my high school newspaper and, although I liked it, I thought I I might be done with student journalism. But when I visited the activity lounge, I couldn’t pass the Daily table. The thing is, I love to write and edit.
So I wrote my name.
As I reflect on my time at the Daily – a tenure that included countless articles and several positions on the editorial board – I think of all that a history student, a future teacher and a person who has never not intend to become a journalist drew from this article.
First, The Daily cultivated my academic interest in sports and gender. This year I wrote a thesis on Toni Stone, Connie Morgan and Mamie Johnson, three black women who played professional baseball in the mid-1950s.
This thesis was born out of my work at the sports office of Le Quotidien. I joined the office my freshman year and spent my weekends covering softball and cross country. I loved telling the stories of female athletes who didn’t always get the recognition they deserved.
A few weeks into the term, Ella Brockway, then sports editor, asked me to write about Allyson Darragh, then director of baseball operations at NU. As I spoke with Darragh – and then with two other women from the athletic department – I was captivated by the stories of women who excelled in male-dominated worlds. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, these articles sparked my interest in writing more about the intersection of sport and gender.
Second, The Daily allowed me to try new things and have fun. I have never covered sports, attended an NCAA media availability, or interviewed a college president, to name a few opportunities.
Every time I lost myself in the stress of it all—a 6 p.m. deadline here, a 2 a.m. bedtime there—I tried to remind myself that I loved writing for the paper. I enjoyed the pleasure of asking questions at press conferences or summing up an exciting football match in 500 words. I didn’t feel pressured to win awards or rack up awesome clips for journalism internships – I wrote because I had fun doing it and wanted to help keep the community informed.
I’m sharing all of this to show that you don’t have to be studying journalism, aspiring to be a journalist, or seeing your group of friends in the newsroom to have a rewarding experience at The Daily. You can come out of curiosity and stay for years.
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