For many journalists, the path to the profession is clear from a young age. Not so for Lauren Chooljian, city politics reporter for WBEZ in Chicago. For her, it took a few key opportunities and being smart enough to recognize them, grab hold, and take them to a level very few can.
Chooljian, who covered the 2016 Republican and Democratic National Conventions, and who also reports on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office, credits her Saint Anselm experience with providing her with several of those opportunities. “At the time I had no idea where I wanted to go to school, or what I wanted to do, but I was intrigued by the vibe on campus when I visited,” she says. “There was a booth about the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, and it was just so appealing.”
Chooljian took advantage of the presidential debates held on campus, working as a “runner” during the 2008 cycle. “I really got a taste for what it’s like to put on an event like that, and I loved it,” she says. “I loved the energy and the speed at which things were happening.”
She also earned competitive internships at WMUR and CBS News, but her love of radio broadcasting emerged at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (she credits Dr. Gary Bouchard with urging her to attend). “Public radio is so thoughtful, and it allows you to dig into things,” she says. “I love that you don’t know what you’re
getting into when you turn the radio on.”
Politics is her focus now but that’s not all she’s about. “I’m not a political junkie; I love to connect with the human side of the story.” This includes one of her favorite reports from the RNC. “I wanted to show people who Donald Trump supporters were,” she says. “I found three female delegates from Illinois who had never met before but were sharing a room to cut down on expenses—they were just so devoted.”
As for what’s ahead, Chooljian’s trying to enjoy the moment. “It’s such a wild ride, I can’t even believe I just covered both conventions.”
By Kate Grip Denon