Meet the Interns

Midstory’s 2023 College Internship Program

Danny Assi | Yale University | Mathematics

Danny is a Lebanese American from Toledo, Ohio. Next year, he will be studying mathematics as a first year at Yale University.

Danny is particularly interested in Middle Eastern studies, probability, and patent law. When not in the classroom or studying, he loves reading, making music, rock climbing, and playing soccer.

This summer with Midstory, Danny hopes to learn more about his hometown and share what he learns with others across the country. He especially looks forward to exploring Midwestern-Middle Eastern culture through food, stories, and businesses.

Bonus Fact: Danny loves candy. Every time he travels to a new area of the world, trying the candy is his top priority.

Calvin Cheong | University of Chicago | Creative Writing

Calvin is a rising senior from Hong Kong currently studying at the University of Chicago, majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Computer Science. Absorbing and conveying stories through reading, writing and visual art have been lifelong passions for him, and he is particularly interested in the unknown and the unfamiliar. He enjoys drawing and painting, reading speculative fiction, and going to the gym on occasion.

At Midstory, he hopes to explore both the collective and individual identities of the Midwest: a frontier that, even after three years, remains enigmatic and intriguing to him. He hopes to experiment with new modes of storytelling and to both improve and utilize his skills in research to, in turn, improve the foundations of his stories.

Bonus Fact: Calvin enjoys watching martial arts tournaments and instructionals but is too afraid to participate. He hopes to overcome this fear in the near future!

Alyssa Jacoby | University of Toledo | Political Science and History

Alyssa is a senior at the University of Toledo double majoring in Political Science and History, as well as minoring in Marketing. She is from Brunswick, Ohio which is about a 40 minute drive south of Cleveland. Last semester, Alyssa interned at the Toledo Police Museum, where she worked on an oral history project to tell the stories of monumental women on the Police Force. She also has journalism experience by working on The Devilier (high school newspaper) and The Collegian (college newspaper).

In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys reading, painting, traveling, going to the gym, and spending time outdoors. Nothing is better than reading a good book outside in the sunshine!

With Midstory, Alyssa is looking forward to writing articles and conducting research about a wide range of issues pertaining to the Midwest. She hopes to collaborate with new people, all sharing our ideas, in hopes to create strong connections. Alyssa is excited to learn how to create stories that are engaging with visuals and graphic design!

Bonus Fact: Alyssa collects keychains from every place she visits!

Colleen Mackin | University of Notre Dame | English

Colleen is a senior at the University of Notre Dame, from Jacksonville, Florida. She is majoring in English with minors in the Glynn Family Honors Program, Irish Studies, and Sport, Media, and Culture. She is particularly intrigued by the intersection of popular culture, literature and history. Next year, she will be pursuing both an English literature thesis and a capstone project looking at the teaching of history through the framework of sports. Outside of academics, Colleen enjoys reading novels, watching movies and tv shows with friends, cheering on the Jacksonville Jaguars or any Notre Dame athletic team, and trying new gluten-free recipes and restaurants.

With Midstory, Colleen is excited to explore storytelling and research through a multimedia format. She is especially interested in investigating the stories of literacy, education, libraries, sports culture and literature of the Midwestern United States.

Bonus Fact: Colleen serves as the Executive Producer for PEMCo (Pasquerilla East Musical Company), Notre Dame's completely student-run musical theater organization!

Pavan Acharya | Northwestern University | Journalism and Political Science

Pavan is a sophomore at Northwestern University majoring in Journalism and Political Science. He is interested in both reporting and editing and has previously served as a print managing editor and campus editor at The Daily Northwestern. Outside of academics and journalism, Pavan enjoys reading books, building puzzles, spending time outdoors, traveling to new places and watching television.

With Midstory, Pavan hopes to report and research articles about the social implications of education and economic issues in the Midwest. He also looks forward to incorporating data visualization elements within his works.

Bonus Fact: Pavan also loves to sing and is part of Brown Sugar, the nation’s premier co-ed South Asian fusion a capella group.

Esther Lim | Northwestern University | Asian American Studies and Psychology

Esther is a sophomore at Northwestern University and minoring in Asian American Studies and Psychology. Born in South Korea and raised in Glenview, Illinois, she first developed an interest in journalism through her high school paper, where she grew to love feature writing. In college, she has written content for various on-campus publications, continuing her love of discovering and telling stories that come from places you wouldn't expect to find them. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, knitting, drawing, and making oddly specific playlists for all kinds of moods and situations (feel free to hit her up if you want a custom playlist).

This summer at Midstory, Esther is looking forward to writing articles and producing engaging multimedia stories that capture the complexities, communities, and stories that make up the Midwest. She's also excited about the opportunity to learn more about the historical and cultural context of the Midwest.

Bonus Fact: Esther can play the French horn.

Allison Jiang | Princeton University | Sociology

Allison is a freshman at Princeton University who plans on majoring in Sociology and minoring in Journalism and Music. She grew up in Chicago, IL and now lives with her family in Shanghai, China. In her coursework, she hopes the explore how the media and public opinion feed into perceptions of socioeconomic status and race. Outside of academics, Allison enjoys playing the violin, making vocal arrangements, watching comedy-mystery-type shows, and playing Among Us with her little sister.

With Midstory, Allison wants to create multimedia projects to illuminate the rich stories of her hometown. With a passion for Chinese immigrant narratives and the performing arts scene in Chicago, she looks forward to learning about sound design and data reporting to create multi-dimensional pieces, as well as learning more about the communities she grew up around!

Bonus Fact: Allison once watched the Paddington Bear movie with Prince William (to clarify, they were not the only two people… it was in the same room as him).

Astry Rodriguez | Northwestern University | Journalism and Sociology

Astry is a sophomore at Northwestern University majoring in Journalism and Sociology and minoring in Latino/a Studies. She is particularly interested in studying the significance of marginalized groups, especially Latinos, in urban spaces and has conducted research with a professor in this area. Outside of academics, Astry enjoys road trips, diamond paintings, archery, watching shows, and walking her dog.

With Midstory, Astry hopes to write articles and conduct research about culturally significant underrepresented groups and their environmental or social impact in the Midwest. She also looks forward to exploring different mediums such as video to create compelling pieces.

Bonus Fact: Astry was born in the Dominican Republic and was raised in Chicago since the age of two.

Sammy Dubin | Northwestern University | Journalism and Economics

Sammy is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in Journalism and Economics. He's from Highland Park, IL, just a short lakeside drive north from campus. Sammy launched a political consulting student organization at Northwestern this past fall; he's passionate about the behind-the-scenes work that helps acclimate young, grassroots stakeholders to electoral politics. Outside of school, he likes to watch mostly terrific Wes Anderson films and mostly horrific Chicago Cubs baseball.

This summer, Sammy hopes to explore how the nationwide acceleration of politically derived culture wars impacts the Midwest. He looks forward to putting disparate communities in conversation with one another through art, research and storytelling.

Bonus Fact: Sammy has an allergy to all things chocolate. Rocky road deprivation stinks, but his capacity for self-restraint has come a long way.

Marin Warshay | Brown University | Environmental Studies and Urban Studies

Marin is originally from Providence, RI and is going into her last semester at Brown University where she concentrates in Environmental Studies and Urban Studies with a focus on issues relating to land, food, and water. She is passionate about storytelling and exploring where the natural and human world relate to each other through art, particularly creative nonfiction writing and illustration. Besides writing, Marin loves to bake without recipes, listen to live music, explore new cities, and watch nature documentaries.

This summer at Midstory, Marin is most excited to speak to community members and gain insight into the impact climate change is having on the Midwest, particularly through the lens of agriculture and food systems while researching how storytelling can be used as a tool for implementing change. She hopes to focus on the editorial team as well as continue her work on podcast production to explore various writing styles and forms of communication.

Bonus Fact: Marin forgot how to ride a bike.

Karen Dong | Duke University | Economics and Statistics

Karen is a rising sophomore at Duke University, most likely double majoring in Economics and Statistics with a certificate in Documentary Studies. On campus, she researches methods to improve cancer equity policies in China, sings with Duke’s Asian-cultural acapella group, and writes for The Chronicle (student-led newspaper). Outside of school, Karen loves matcha, charcuterie, music by The 1975, cdramas/kdramas, and spontaneous travels.

This summer at Midstory, she looks forward to becoming more confident about producing videos, utilizing quantitative tools in journalism, and researching topics in public health, politics, and entertainment.

Bonus Fact: Growing up, Karen lived in three different countries — Yangzhou, China; Dubai, UAE; and Frisco, Texas, USA!

Chloe Becker | Harvard University | History

Chloe is a junior at Harvard University majoring in History. She is from the west side of Cleveland, Ohio and is interested in Midwest history, journalism, and teaching. In Chloe’s free time, she is active in the arts — she loves painting and drawing, playing guitar, and performing with her punk band, Stryk9.

This summer with Midstory, Chloe is excited to write about education, historical settlement, queer community, and the oddities of Midwest culture. She is also looking forward to learning about the more visual aspects of journalism through graphic design and photography.

Bonus Fact: Chloe ran cross country for ten years. Although she is thankfully retired, she will never turn down a run in the Cleveland Metroparks!

Eleanore Marquardt | Princeton University | History

Ellie is a rising senior at Princeton University studying History with an intended certificate in Medieval Studies, from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her particular area of interest is the intersection of culture and law as they influence identity. When she’s not studying, Ellie is an active member of the Princeton Women’s swim and dive team, an avid reader, and enjoys hiking and being outdoors.

While at Midstory, Ellie hopes to write articles about the history of the Midwest, as well as conduct research on the development of city infrastructure and the evolution of culture in the region.

Bonus Fact: Ellie competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials!

Taylor Vanek | Bowling Green State University | Graphic Design

Taylor is a senior at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) majoring in Graphic Design. They are interested in creating positive change and keeping people socially and politically engaged all through the utilization of graphic design!

She spends her time during the year as a Senator on the BGSU Undergraduate Student Government working to support students on and off campus and spent the last year working at Finders Records, Bowling Green’s local record store. Their free time is spent writing new campaigns for Dungeons and Dragons, listening to all kinds of music— new and old, hiking and sketching!

With Midstory, Taylor hopes to gain valuable experience and expand their graphic design portfolio! They also look forward to creating visual storytelling pieces as she enjoys those projects the most.

Bonus Fact: Taylor has 21 tattoos!

Michelle Hwang | Northwestern University | Journalism and Computer Science

Michelle is a freshman at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois double majoring in Journalism and Computer Science. Her aspiration for the future is to work at the intersection between journalism and technology -- coming up with storytelling methods that are more immersive and creative. Michelle also loves to bake blueberry muffins (a highly underrated baked good), watch blockbuster movies and cafe hop with her friends.

This upcoming summer, Michelle hopes to learn the process behind taking a journalistic project from idea conception to implementation. She also plans to learn as much as possible about multimedia journalism and using technical skills to effectively share the stories of undercovered communities.

Bonus Fact: Michelle has a sister who is four years younger. They plan to go on a backpacking trip through Europe sometime in their life.

Riley Walsh | Washington University | Anthropology: Global Health and the Environment

Riley is an upcoming junior at Washington University in St. Louis majoring in Anthropology: Global Health and the Environment with minors in Healthcare Management and Speech and Hearing Sciences. She enjoys learning about challenges faced by communities in achieving health equity and is interested in careers in public health research and community outreach. Outside of academics, she enjoys playing volleyball, reading, writing, and biking.

Nicole Millan Ortiz | University of Chicago | Comparative Literature, Mathematics, or Astrophysics

Nicole is a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago thinking of majoring in either Comparative Literature, Mathematics, or Astrophysics. She’s, as they say, “exploring her options.”

When she’s not studying for some upcoming exam, Nicole spends most of her time outside (if the weather permits) either reading, writing poetry, or learning new languages! She’s also trying to take up cooking, but the jury’s still out on whether this will stick…

With Midstory, Nicole hopes to learn more about education and mental health in the Midwest, “post pandemic.” She’s especially interested in understanding the breadth of the so-called “lost year,” and the steps local governments, schools, and families are taking to recover. She’s also hoping to work with the video editing team to create some longer, multimedia pieces!

Bonus Fact: Nicole’s originally from Venezuela, so her native language is Spanish! In addition to English and Spanish, though, she also speaks French and (now) Italian. She’s hoping to pick up Portuguese this summer.

Beckett Bessinger | The Ohio State University | Politics

Beckett is from Jamestown, Rhode Island. She is going into her second year at The Ohio State University and is interested in the working of politics specifically in ways generations can understand as well as incorporating her other passions/studies in fashion and retail into the political climate in new and creative ways.

She is excited to bring her perspective to Midstory and to work with the other interns and explore more about their diverse perspectives that they offer as well. She is also excited to see how Midstory can help us all further our passions into careers and make our interests more than textbook materials!

Jewel Justice | Princeton University | African American studies

Jewel (she/her) is a senior at Princeton University majoring in African American studies and minoring in Journalism and Dance. She is from Wilmington, Delaware and now lives in South Jersey. Broadly, Jewel advocates for racial justice and aspires to create equitable spaces for communities of color. In particular, she is interested in interrogating the ways in which the media normalizes anti-Blackness and has historically erased people of color. Outside of academics, Jewel loves to dance, write, cook for family and friends, watch movies, draw, and read books.

With Midstory, Jewel hopes to learn and write stories about people in POC communities in the Midwest, with a focus on Art & Culture. To do so, she hopes to incorporate her experience with archival research and passion for the arts.

Bonus Fact: When Jewel was younger, she wanted to be a professional hip hop dancer.

Bailey Herman | Washington University | English Creative Writing and Political Science

Bailey is a rising junior at Washington University in St. Louis. She is double majoring in English Creative Writing and Political Science with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Bailey is from Potomac, Maryland. Outside of academics, she is really interested in music and photography! Having just moved to the Midwest two years ago, Bailey is most looking forward to getting to know her new midwestern community better this summer with Midstory.

Bonus Fact: Taylor Swift has been Bailey’s most listened to artist on Spotify since 2012.

Angela Zhang | Northwestern University | Journalism and Political Science

Hailing from Los Angeles, Angela is a rising junior at Northwestern University studying Journalism and Political Science. She’s Assignment Editor and a reporter for the Northwestern News Network, the campus broadcast station. Angela is passionate about video and audio reporting on international politics, arts and culture through an investigative lens. Outside of journalism, she enjoys singing (with Northwestern’s Treblemakers A Cappella), drawing and painting, playing volleyball, graphic designing and competitively typing.

At Midstory, Angela is excited to continue storytelling for impact in the Midwest through short-and long-form documentaries, and uncovering intersections between the creative arts and social policy.

Bonus Fact: Angela used to have 27 birds!

Megija Medne | Northwestern University | Journalism and Psychology

Megija is a rising junior at Northwestern University, where she is majoring in Journalism and Psychology with a minor in Political Science. Originally from Latvia, one of the three Baltic States in North-Eastern Europe, Megija is passionate about social justice issues, diverse cultures, and international politics. During her free time, she enjoys engaging in black & white photography, running, and bike riding. At Northwestern, she serves as a reporter for the Northwestern News Network and the Daily Northwestern.

With Midstory, she aspires to blend journalism with creative writing and explore various communities in the Midwest.

Bonus fact: Megija's strange hobby is to read Supreme Court cases and she hopes to become a lawyer.