Get to know some of our College of Media students! Vivian La is a Class of 2024 journalism major.
What excited you about majoring in journalism here at Illinois?
Journalism at Illinois allows me to do a lot of interesting things both inside and outside of the classroom. Before college, I was unsure of becoming a journalism major. However, after experiencing a lot of different opportunities such as covering the 2020 election, working at the Daily Illini, and producing a video story on local businesses, I am grateful for the flexibility the College of Media has provided me. People are very interesting, and journalism has taught me that everyone has a story they want to tell. Now, my goal is to become a science journalist at a news organization. Whether that’s print or radio, I am not sure, I just know I want to report on science and health, making complicated ideas more understandable.
What has been your favorite way to get involved on campus?
While I have loved every RSO I have been a part of, the Daily Illini has taught me a lot. The first year of covering COVID and how campus was adapting to the situation was especially eye-opening and exciting. I have also enjoyed my time with the Asian American Journalists Association, and I am honored to be the president this year. We are a small community, and it is great to meet people who are not in the College of Media, but have similar interests. I am also an active member of Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity where I have met a lot of my close friends while doing community service. Lastly, I am a member of the University Band. Playing flute has been a great way to keep up with my musical skills.
What is one Media class you felt was most valuable?
JOUR 280: IPM Radio Practicum, where students get hands-on experience producing radio stories for WILL, has been very valuable. I was a part of the Illinois Student Newsroom at Illinois Public Media during its first year and a half, first as a reporter and then as a student producer. This also led to a summer internship in the same newsroom, which was an amazing experience. Working with other professional journalists teaches you things you cannot learn in a classroom. I learned so much about radio style, journalistic standards, editing, working with others, and more from the two years I spent there. At the internship, I produced some of my favorite and most fulfilling store that I have done, such as covering the radium that the Asian and Asian American communities experienced during the pandemic. The practicum was a really unique experience that I would recommend to journalism majors.
What advice would you give to an incoming journalism major?
Take advantage of opportunities that may make you uncomfortable. I came into the College of Media with a very specific idea of what a journalist is, but now in my junior year, I know that limiting yourself is not the best way to grow in this field. Take a broadcast class, join a magazine, or try out anything that seems interesting because you do not know what will stick. One class or experience can become a new career path. College goes by faster than many think—students need to make the most of the four years so they graduate with no regrets.
—Interview by Haley Maser, New Voices Intern