For being at a university that’s so well known for the research its graduate students and professors are doing, us undergraduate students are crazy spoiled at Northwestern. We commonly hear how our President, Morty Schapiro, made undergraduates his priority when he got to NU, but that doesn’t really sink in until you stop and think about all the things we get to do here on campus.

I’m not talking about outside experience specifically, which we also get a ton of since NU places a premium on things like independent research and internships, but the amount of opportunities for undergrads in Evanston alone is staggering. As a journalism major in Medill, for example, I’ve gotten to meet sportswriters and alums including Christine Brennan, J.A. Adande and Michael Wilbon a few times now — they’re perfect examples of how involved our alumni network is, and it’s been incredibly helpful as an aspiring sportswriter to be able to speak with them about their career paths. Aside from mentorship opportunities, I’ve gotten to cover some really cool events that I wouldn’t have the chance to write about anywhere else. I went to Baltimore last year to cover the NCAA women’s lacrosse national championship tournament, the semifinals of which NU was competing in. Recently, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was at Medill for an interview with USA TODAY and Q&A session with Medill undergraduates. To have that opportunity to interview someone so important as a 21-year-old was a huge learning experience!

Opportunities like that aren’t just for Medill students, either. One of the other senior counselors, an opera student in the Bienen School of Music, got to sing for Seth Meyers at an event in New York this winter. Sometimes Zach Braff (of “Scrubs” and “Garden State” fame) comes back to campus to work with students in our Radio, Television and Film department and Julia Louis-Dreyfus has come back to campus to work with aspiring comedians. My friend took a Music Industry class in which the professor, an agent in the industry, introduced the students to Matt Kearney and let them pick his brain; and freshmen in our McCormick School of Engineering get to work with real-world clients like the Shedd Aquarium to design actual products that companies and individuals use.

So it’s not just that Northwestern is undergrad-focused, but the schools, faculty and alumni here make sure we have incredible, unique opportunities. We’ve got all the resources of a research university, but feeling like you matter as an undergraduate student has had a huge effect on my college experience.

–Ava Wallace

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