Nathalie Murillo

Get to know some of our College of Media students! Nathalie Murillo is a Class of 2024 journalism major.

What sparked your interest in pursuing a Journalism major at Illinois?
As a transfer student from a smaller institution that only offered a communication major, I felt limited in terms of resources and faculty expertise. I came across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as one of the top options and I applied. It was a significant decision for me at the time, being the first in my family to attend college. I was grateful for the generous support offered by the College of Media, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic. 

In short, my curiosity, desire for better resources, and the opportunity to pursue my passion for journalism led me to the College of Media, and I'm grateful for how everything has worked out so far. 

Which student organization or extracurricular activity have you particularly enjoyed being a part of on campus?
I have truly enjoyed being a part of Fighting Illini Athletics and the school radio station WPGU 107.1 FM. These two experiences hold a special place in my heart. They allowed me to mature as a person and as a journalist, providing me with valuable hands-on experience with technology, which I was initially apprehensive about.

Out of all the journalism classes you've taken thus far, which one stands out as your favorite?
I was able to take a broadcast meteorology class. I have been able to combine my passion of journalism and discovered a path to combine my new interest in atmospheric science and enjoyed taking my time to conceptualize the material. In addition to learning the technical aspects, it was a unique experience that challenged me in a different way from my usual journalism courses with deadlines and reporting. 

Could you describe your experience of applying for and receiving the $5,000 National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Ada Lourdes Vigo Afro-Latino Scholarship? (This scholarship required an essay on “how being Afro-Latino impacts your storytelling, and how Afro-Latinos are currently represented in media.”)
I was able to secure a scholarship by attending a College of Media alumni networking event where I met an alumnus of the university who encouraged me to apply for a scholarship from NAHJ. I faced challenges along the way, including my father's hospitalization and eventual passing. Reflecting on his life and the grief I was going through, I poured my heart into the essay and was fortunate to be awarded the scholarship. This scholarship has been a beacon of hope for me during a difficult time, allowing me to continue my education and pursue my degree despite the challenges my family is facing.

I am thankful to the alumni networking program, and the scholarships that have helped me persevere and find strength in my journey.

What are your career aspirations after completing your studies in the College of Media?
While I have been a journalism major, I am open to exploring other career paths, such as public relations and communication director positions, as I believe that the skills I have learned in journalism are versatile and applicable in various fields. I am also passionate about giving back to the University by creating a scholarship fund for students in need. My long-term dream is to make a meaningful contribution to my chosen field while also helping others through scholarships so that future students can also pursue their academic goals.

What advice would you offer to a new student entering the College of Media?
I would tell them to be fearless in trying new things. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take on challenges, even if you're uncertain of the outcome. Embrace the unknown, because sometimes the most amazing opportunities arise from taking risks. Time management is crucial, as college life can be demanding. I've experienced juggling multiple jobs and commitments, but it's important to also prioritize rest and avoid burning out. Always check in with yourself and take breaks when needed, because your health should come first. So, try everything, but also be mindful of not overstretching yourself.

—Interview by Lauren Barjami, New Voices Intern

Nathalie Murillo