Everyone has a story to tell

Francisca Corona

Francisca Corona is an Honors College student. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

While I was tutoring for an after-school program during my freshman year, I looked down at a girl who tugged at the sleeve of my sweater to get my attention.

“Those are nice shoes,” she said, pointing at my winter boots. She shared that she had similar ones, but she couldn’t find them after someone broke into her home; the shoes were lost in the shuffle.

That girl was part of a group that I spent three months tutoring as a requirement for a course in the college of education. The experience was meant to show undergraduates how policies affect urban schools and their students.

After tutoring, I knew that I didn’t want to be a teacher. But I also realized that the stories I uncovered there — about families dealing with language barriers and community violence or about people and organizations coming together to help underserved students defy the odds — mattered, and I wanted to learn how to tell them.

Despite the fact that UIC didn’t have a journalism program, I was able to find support for pursuing that in every corner of the university.

I learned the basics of news writing and reporting at a job on campus from my mentor, Erika Hobbs, a former communications director for a Ph.D. program at UIC and an adjunct professor. She helped me apply what I practiced in English courses like Media and Professional Writing to the real world. That experience led me to write, intern and eventually work for UIC News — where I’ve listened to and told the stories of inspiring students, faculty and staff impacting the world in positive ways — while under the guidance of the paper’s award-winning team.

So after four years of writing, working and studying, I’ve learned, among other things, that deadlines are life, IPOs are initial public offerings and that the guidelines and history of copyright are a lot more complicated than I thought.

But I think the most important thing I’ve learned as an undergraduate here is that everyone has a story, and the efforts of communities that care, like UIC’s, are behind some extraordinary ones. So, as I look forward to the endless opportunities ahead, I’d like to acknowledge those who supported me: thank you, UIC staff, students and faculty for letting me tell your stories and being an influential part of mine.

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