Chesnie Wardell, a junior in the Diederich College of Communication, has been selected as one of 19 undergraduate students from across the country to take part in The New York Times Corps, a talent-pipeline mentorship program for undergraduates to receive guidance from Times journalists over a multiyear period.
Students will meet with a Times adviser several times a year for advice about career-building and how to create a foundation for long-term success in journalism. The experience will last the duration of students’ undergraduate experience and will include training sessions and speakers from the field.
Students who finish the program and who spend at least two years as active members will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to New York, where they will tour the Times newsroom and learn from Times journalists in person.
Chesnie shared more about her experience, interests and hopes for the future in a Q&A with Marquette Today.
Getting to Know Chesnie Wardell
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Chesnie Wardell, a Milwaukee native and junior at Marquette University pursuing journalism and digital media. I am an inaugural member of the New York Times Corps, a news reporter, substitute teacher, model, photographer and mentor.
What are your current journalism roles and where do you see yourself in five years?
While reporting for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service (NNS), I cover the events on Milwaukee’s north and south side in addition to airing monthly on WUWM Radio 89.7 FM. I also write features for the “NNS Spotlight” which highlights individuals doing extraordinary things to help bridge media gaps between the Black and Latino communities. A current feature story I’m working on at NNS revolves around an organization planting more churches around Milwaukee’s north side. Since becoming an inaugural member of the New York Times Corps, my mentor from this program will guide me along my journalistic career with support to advance me as a journalist.
Within five years, I plan to be starting a new life in either New York or Texas, anchoring and writing for a newsroom where I aim to break agenda-setting barriers in Black communities when it comes to media. Secondly, I’ll be an author with a book titled, “I Am Not Forgotten,” entailing how I found God through my personal experiences and His transcendent love.
What are you excited about this year?
I’m always excited about taking opportunities and doing the unthinkable because I’ll never forget how I was at my lowest around 17 years old and someone told me, “You don’t fight hard enough for your dreams.” Those words felt discouraging, but it wasn’t true. They weren’t in my shoes to understand what it’s like to be in a household with financial burdens, so some things just had to wait. From there I found my motivation, prayed and vowed to never run from what God has planned. Marquette was a providence, not a coincidence for me. It definitely was meant for me to be here. My story and accomplishments should show you why!
What is your favorite Marquette memory?
My favorite Marquette memory dates back to 2021 freshman orientation. Marquette hosted a block party for us. My depression about not being able to go out of state for college led me to cry. I called my mom and begged her to come pick me up because I didn’t belong. I remember sitting under a tree, eating my sandwich with teary eyes and watching everyone have fun at the party. Change can be hard, but as I reminisce and laugh about this moment, I learned to step into my identity and had experienced an unexpected success at Marquette.
What advice do you have for new students this fall?
My only tip for incoming freshmen is to know that everything will be okay and take care of yourself. There were times where it felt like I was on top of the world and moments of confusion that led me to question my purpose. Days like those will happen, but one thing I always did was smile, even if it was just for that day. I grew up hearing that if people of my color went to see a therapist, we’d just be another statistic. Sophomore year I started seeing a therapist biweekly and implementing self-care in my life. That has helped me ever since!