CJA educates youth on journalism during career day

For the first time under its new leadership, the Chicago Journalists Association participated in its first speaking engagement: an event geared toward educating the next generation of potential journalists.

Columbia Explorers Academy in Brighton Park invited CJA to serve as a speaker for the school’s 14th annual career day on Thursday, June 7. Vice President/Secretary Stephanie Choporis spoke to two classrooms of sixth-graders about journalism and her experiences in the industry to date.

Vice President/Secretary Stephanie Choporis (right) prepares students of Columbia Explorers Academy for the activity portion of her presentation. She encouraged them to ask open-ended questions to receive better information when interviewing.
 Photo credit: Stacy Medeiros-Delgado

“This was the first time I spoke at an event like this, and it was a great experience,” Choporis said. “I was also impressed with how knowledgeable the students were. They already had a basic understanding of journalism and important terms, such as ‘internship.’”

She discussed her educational background, daily work as co-founder and managing editor of Happenstance and aspects of the job that she likes and dislikes. While she enjoys learning about the sources she interviews, she admitted that it could sometimes be challenging to coordinate interviews with others’ schedules.

For practical experience, Choporis also set aside time for the students to interview one another. Several reported afterward that they discovered new things about their classmates, from paintball experiences to go-kart competitions.

The students made cards for Choporis and thanked her for spending time with them. “These were such a treat,” she said of the notes. “I was particularly touched by the students who seemed interested in journalism.”  Photo Credit: Stephanie Choporis

“I wanted them to get a sense of the work that I do,” she said. “Getting a taste of it now could help them determine their own career paths.”

Choporis ended her presentation with tips for jumpstarting a journalism career. Until students have an opportunity to write for a school newspaper, she advised them to start reading and listening to news stories from now to better understand the information that reporters typically include.

She said the CJA officers were honored to receive this invitation from Columbia Explorers Academy and would welcome similar future opportunities. Individuals with proposals should send them via email to info@chicagocja.wpcomstaging.com.