Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 C-LINKS cohort graduates with special honor

Friday, November 02, 2012

by Ashlei Williams, Robert R. McCormick Communications intern

Becoming an adult is some people’s biggest regret. But for the 23 teenagers involved in the 2012 Columbia College Chicago’s Columbia Links summer program not being able to grow up is their greatest fear.

For six weeks, the teens took multimedia courses based on the student-selected topic of violence. Veteran journalists lectured on Basic Reporting, Investigative/Multimedia Reporting and Special Reporting. Since 2006, C-LINKS has built expertise, relationships, skills and opportunities that connect students, teachers and volunteers through media.

“Ellyn was my mentor and she was really there with me the whole time,” said Lileana Moore, a student at Northside College Prep. “If there was a problem I ran into, I could email her or call her and talk to her and work it out.”

Family members, mentors and Columbia College Chicago staff in the audience of C-LINKS graduation. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

On August 30, a graduation ceremony was held at Columbia College’s Collins Hall to celebrate the C-LINKS community’s work. Facing the audience of delighted family members, proud mentors and blushing students Brenda Butler, executive director of C-LINKS, led the presentation of the 2012 cohort’s compilation of letters and essays, “Don’t Shoot. I Want to Grow Up.”

Brenda Butler speaks about C-LINKS. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

Moore’s article on CeaseFire, the Chicago organization made up of ex-gang members who advocate against gun violence, was highlighted in the presentation. Moore explained that while reporting she was able to travel with one of the CeaseFire members to the scene of a shooting. Such real-world experiences contributed to the journalism skills and knowledge that students gained.

“At my school the News Literacy Project came to our World Studies class and kind of talked to us so I had an experience knowing you need to check out the credibility of sources,” Moore said. “But this program really helped me to solidify that because I really had to be checking all of the things that I was finding through my research and making sure that I was using the right sources.”

Lileana Moore, a student at Northside College Prep. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

Before students were granted their certificates and status as C-LINKS alumni, Laura Washington, of the Chicago Sun-Times and Channel 7, addressed the crowd with as the keynote speaker. Washington provided 10 tips of advice to the graduates such as supporting advocacy journalism, using discretion and exploding myths. Washington’s closing comments about showing gratitude can be seen by clicking on the video below.

Laura Washington speaks to the graduates. Click here for video. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

After Washington’s speech, each student filed up to the podium to receive their credentials from Nancy Day, chair of Columbia College’s Journalism Department. But the work of the 2012 C-LINKS cohort did not end there. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office has been in contact with C-LINKS staff about the group’s compilation and will the students have the honor of presenting their work to the mayor himself. Discussions are also in place between staff and the Chicago Police Department about including Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in that conversation. To stay updated on the C-LINKS program visit

Kevin Morales accepts C-LINKS certificate. (Ashlei Williams/Robert R. McCormick Foundation)

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