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September 11, 2012 > My summer story

My summer story

By Angie Wang, Photo by Sarahmaria Gomez

Mission San Jose High School (MSJHS) in Fremont, places first among open-enrollment schools in U.S. News's 2012 rankings of Best High Schools for Math and Science. So, what's the best thing for an aspiring high school journalist to do at a school like MSJHS? Write for the paper, work for the school television station and write for a community newspaper like Tri-City Voice.

Then apply to a summer journalism program. School's busy, and at a school like MSJHS, it's commonly accepted that school is everything. So when school gets out, run... or fly.

Two weeks after the last day of my junior year, I took a plane from SFO to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. From there, I took a shuttle to Northwestern University in Evanston, home of The Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communication.

Program Director Prof. Roger Boye hosts the annual Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute, commonly referred to as Medill Cherubs. Medill Cherubs is a five-week residential camp for rising high school seniors who have experience and are considering careers in journalism.

In late July, 86 student cherubs, 10 instructors and four community associates meet for the first time. Over the next five weeks, we edit lengthy leads, critique supposedly professional front page layouts, complain about editorial board drama, bust out breaking news reports, explore the lesser known secrets of the Associated Press Stylebook and proof our stories for Oxford commas and adverbs.

We learn about libel and malice, explore multimedia journalism, write blogs, edit audio, host fake morning news shows, broadcast "live from London" and make connections, personal and professional, that will last a lifetime. We talk to professors, Pulitzer Prize winners, international journalists, freelancers and complete strangers, Skype with reality show hosts and receive quality feedback from our instructors, who are all accomplished journalists.

So what's the take-away? What can you do to make all this and more happen for you? As Randy Pausch once said, luck is where preparation meets opportunity. There are excellent summer programs in almost every field. But acceptance into these prestigious programs takes work, beginning with research. Ask your counselors, advisers, teachers, parents and fellow students for help, but do your own research. The internet is a beautiful thing.

Submit your applications before their deadlines; time is of the essence. Then, to paraphrase an instructor from Cherubs, be prepared for boatloads of rejection. "There is no crying in journalism," said Instructor John Kupetz.

Apply to several programs and give yourself options. If you play your cards right, the odds will be in your favor. And if you're extra lucky, who knows? You just might end up in an outstanding summer program in the field of your passion.

Mission San Jose High School senior Angie Wang is a freelance writer for the Tri-City Voice Newspaper.

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