Chicago High School Students Visit CRC & Medill

From a tour of Medill facilities to a presentation on filmmaking, students in Medill Media Teens were welcomed to Northwestern University’s Evanston campus for the first time ever.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, the Communications Residential College (CRC) hosted 26 teens and their 18 mentors, giving them presentations about creating film and working for news outlets in college. The students also had lunch with CRC residents and other students studying journalism and film.

Medill Media Teens founder and director, Sarahmaria Gomez worked with the CRC master staff and executive board to coordinate the visit. Several CRC residents and alumni are mentors in the program. Three RTVF students – CRC President Robert Cunningham, Vice President Jesus Campos, and CRC alumna and former secretary Zoe Pressman – gave a presentation, talking about their experience creating films and doing screenwriting while at Northwestern.

“I was able to show the Medill Media Teens what I do at Northwestern,” said Campos, an RTVF sophomore. “It was also cool to show them where we live and how it helps us with our majors and extracurricular activities. It felt good presenting to the teens because they sometimes don't experience these types of programs and also don't know much about careers in television and film.”

After a tour of CRC, the students got a tour of the broadcast studio at the McCormick Foundation Center and did an interview exercise with their peers. Mentees were asked to interview each other about their experience visiting the university, and most agreed that they really enjoyed seeing a real college campus.

During lunch, the students also heard a presentation about working for campus media outlets and were encouraged to consider them when they attend college. Preetisha Sen, a Medill Media Teen mentor and outgoing editor-in-chief of North by Northwestern, talked about her experiences with the print magazine. Julia Jacobs, another mentor and editor at The Daily Northwestern, discussed how much time and effort she puts into writing for the school’s newspaper.

“We’d wanted to bring the teens to Northwestern’s Evanston campus ever since the program started, and we were able to do that with the help of residential college funding,” said Gomez, who is also a Medill lecturer and CRC associate master. “It was incredibly inspiring for them, and they could see that they could go to a school like this very soon if they work hard.”

Gomez, a Medill alumna, has been running Medill Media Teens since its start six years ago. This year, 28 high school students from the South Side of Chicago were partnered with 36 mentors, who are current Medill students of all years. On Saturdays, mentors work with the teens to teach them about journalism and help them practice and refine their reporting and multimedia skills.

After completing the first year of the program, teens receive a video camera and when they graduate after their second year of the program, they get a laptop furnished with multimedia software.

“The mentors and teens mean everything to me,” Gomez said. “I get to see the wonderful bonds that are created between mentors and teens. It’s incredible how you can get a group of students together early on a Saturday morning, and they sit attentively, learn, and then work hard on journalism projects just because of the warm and nurturing environment.”