Aishwarya Kumar Lakshminarayanapuram, Northwestern University, MS in Journalism (MSJ)

Aishwarya-Kumar-LakshminarayanapuramAugust 20, 2016. It was the last day of grad school and my best friend from Medill School of Journalism - Tolly Taylor - and I wanted to get our website up and running before we were officially done with school. As I was collecting information on myself - published articles, video stories, interviews done etc. - I realized how far I had come in a year. From covering the India vs. West Indies series in Florida to watching Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton give their speeches at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, grad school took me to 15 U.S. states and two South African states. I saw myself change every day, from being an intimidated 22-year-old to a strong and curious 24-year-old.

My mentors always told me, Medill will help you create a path for yourself in the field of journalism, and they couldn't have been more right about that. While some of my classmates focused on on-camera reporting/writing/radio journalism, I wove a path for myself as a multimedia journalist, focusing on text, video shooting and editing, and on-camera reporting. I realized early on that if I needed to be an indispensable part of a news organization, I should be able to deliver in all the different mediums of journalism. From there, I went on to work with ESPN, Vice Sports, SB Nation, Associated Press, DNAinfo Chicago, Independent Media (South Africa) and UPI among other news organizations.

It wasn't an easy journey. Staying away from home, living on sandwich and curd rice, and constantly having to be at the top of your game puts a lot of pressure on you. A solid friend-base helped me tremendously during my time in the U.S. New culture, new people and a new life - I embraced it early on, and once I did that, America felt like home. The curiosity to learn helped me accept my environment. During the first nine months of my course, we were based in Chicago, where we worked out of the main Evanston campus and the downtown Chicago newsroom. I got the best deal - I got to enjoy the scintillating Northwestern campus, while still working out of Medill newsroom under editors and producers. I then made a decision to move to Medill Washington D.C. newsroom, where I reported on pro sports teams and the U.S. elections. I met innumerable sports personalities, politicians, watched some of the best journalists in the world work and throughout, I learnt.

Medill then gave me the opportunity to head to South Africa for a three-month internship with Independent Media. Throughout my time at Medill, I've always had this one dream in my mind: Cover cricket in a country where cricket matters. And when I sat in the press box of the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, reporting on South Africa vs Australia ODIs, that dream came true. Highlight of the internship: spending a day with Herschelle Gibbs in the media box in Super Sport Park, Centurion, just chatting and having fun. One of my favorite cricketers of all time, eating lunch and sharing his life's stories with me - can it get better than that? This one-and-a-half-year journey has been everything I could've ever dreamed of and more. I can't believe I am part of the Medill alumni (we call ourselves Medill Mafia).

Three years ago, I was a student at M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women. My visits to the EducationUSA Center at the U.S. Consulate, Chennai to get information on the U.S. university application process is still vivid in my mind. And yet so much has happened in between. Last week, I went back to my alma mater to give a talk on sports journalism and about pursuing master’s degree abroad. It was weird and glorious at the same time to have students walk up to me and ask me about my experiences. It took a while for that feeling to sink in.


This article was sourced by Education USA and published in The Hindu.

This is an unedited article. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author and should not be attributed to USIEF or to the author's employer, or any organization, committee, and individual. USIEF is not responsible for any information and fact/figures therein.

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