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Katie Kather

Tell us a little bit about what you were doing before you came to Columbia.

It’s hard to remember a time before Columbia, but all I need to do for the memories to come rushing back is sit in a Starbucks.

I worked at Starbucks for eight years, five of which I ran my own store. I took a few years off school, but ended up going back in 2009 to finish my bachelor’s degree. For three years leading up to Columbia, I managed my own store while finishing my degree at Aurora University.

It was challenging, but looking back, it prepared me for the rigors of Columbia College Chicago’s Journalism MA program.

Why did you choose Columbia for your graduate study?

I love journalism because it allows you to tell people’s stories. There is nothing more important to me than being a voice for someone who may not be able to speak for themselves. I am passionate about social justice issues like poverty and education in Chicago, but I am also in love with Africa. I spent time in Sudan my freshman year of college. Since then, I knew that I wanted to do more with my life than make coffee (although it’s a great job!)

I stumbled on journalism almost by accident. It was like finding a lost love I didn’t know I had, as cheesy as it sounds. I knew Columbia was the perfect fit from the moment I stepped foot onto campus for the Graduate Open House. Meeting current students and professors and experiencing the authentic environment settled it for me—I had to get my MA in journalism here.

Tell us about a project you’re working on that you’re excited about.

I’m writing this over winter break, but I can talk about the project I was most recently excited about. I just finished the Digital Journalism class (an amazing elective, by the way), where I told my first story through multimedia. It was an audio slideshow about a dorm in Pilsen that helps Latino students pursue a college degree.

Telling a story with sound and visuals gave me a new way of looking at journalism, and I fell in love with it. I still love writing, but there is something tangible and satisfying about using your senses to tell someone’s story.

Reporting for multimedia requires you to be fully present. You can’t just take notes; you have to be aware of how the environment looks and sounds.

If we’re going to talk about things I’m excited about, I would be crazy not to mention my arts and culture reporting internship with WBEZ. It doesn’t start until April, so I have plenty of time to settle into my excitement and start preparing for the arts and culture beat.