Allyson Chiu – Class of 2014

The Knight Profile is back, and we are excited to feature St. John’s lifer, Allyson Chiu, as she shares her journey of pursuing her passion and landing an amazing job opportunity at The Washington Post.

 What year did you graduate from St. John’s School?

2014, Pre-K to senior

What did you do the year following High School graduation?

I started classes at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois. It was a huge culture shock moving from Guam to the Midwest. Winters were an absolute nightmare and I was pretty homesick, but it was all worth it to attend my dream school. At NU, I played club volleyball, joined Greek life and was on staff at our student newspaper The Daily Northwestern, where I held several positions including campus editor and managing editor. I graduated in 2018 magna cum laude with a BS in journalism and a certificate in integrated marketing communications.

Can you tell us about the career path you chose after college?

My goal was always to land a job as a reporter for a major media outlet and I’m really lucky I ended up at The Washington Post. During my senior year, I had the chance to do a 10-week internship at The Post through a program Medill requires all its students to take before graduation called “Journalism Residency” or JR. For most of my JR, I was assigned to the Metro desk, but I also spent a couple weeks writing for The Post’s overnight team, Morning Mix. When my internship was over, it just so happened that Morning Mix was hiring, so I applied and I’ve been on the team for almost two years now.

Outside of work, what other activities/organizations are you involved in?

My nocturnal schedule makes joining organizations or sports clubs outside of work a bit challenging given that meetings or games usually happen while I’m asleep. But when I’m not working, I really enjoy exploring D.C. and the surrounding DMV area. My friends and I love going on hikes, checking out museum exhibits and finding new restaurants to try.

 What do you enjoy most about your current career position?

There are so many reasons I love my job. Morning Mix is The Post’s overnight general assignment team. We work 9 p.m. to 6/7 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and our goal is to produce a variety of engaging, often narrative-driven, stories covering news from around the country and world. While our hours are difficult and we’re reporting on tight deadlines in the middle of the night, the challenges of the job have only made me a better journalist. I usually produce a story a day and have written about almost every subject imaginable ranging from politics to sports, science, pop culture and even weird animals.

Morning Mix is the perfect training ground for a young reporter like me and I’ve really benefited from the guidance of my amazing editors and seasoned co-workers. My fellow Morning Mixers are some of the most talented journalists I’ve ever had the chance to work with and they push me to be better every day. (You can check out our stories here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/)

How did you become interested in your field of study or work?

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’ve wanted to be a journalist for as long as I can remember. It really started as a love of writing, but when I realized at a pretty young age that I wasn’t creative enough to hack it as an author, I got to thinking about what I could write that people would want to read.

The obvious answer was news.

I started my own newspaper in third grade (thank you Mrs. Tufvander for giving us free time!) using a Microsoft Word template. The Ink Blot and was a weekly publication typed entirely in Comic Sans that featured hard-hitting articles about lost pets and who had the 120-count box of Crayola crayons. It was a short-lived project that had a nonexistent audience, but it was enough to get me excited about journalism.

I joined PDN’s VIBE team as a high school freshman and that’s where I really started learning the ins and outs of being a reporter. (Fun fact: the two other people from Guam at The Post, Michelle Lee and Gene Park, are also former VIBEsters!)

During the summer between junior and senior year, I attended a summer program at Medill that was basically a reporting bootcamp. That summer really solidified my dream to pursue journalism as a career and I applied early decision to Northwestern.

How has attending St. John’s prepared you for success in college and in the workplace?

As a lifer, my 14 years at St. John’s were critical to helping me get to where I am today. Balancing the intense curriculum and extra-curriculars taught me the importance of a strong work ethic, good time management and self-motivation at an early age. The skills I developed at St. John’s shaped how I approached college and how I now handle the daily challenges that come with my job. Being on the IB track in high school made me a better critical thinker and prepared me for the demands and stress of a college-level workload. Through sports and various clubs, I learned how to be part of a team and work well with others.

Do you still keep in touch with your St. John’s School friends?

Yes! There are a handful of people from my class I talk with pretty regularly even though we’re scattered all over the world. I’m the worst at long-distance friendships, but social media makes it so much easier to keep track of what all my friends are doing. When I do have the chance to see them in person, whether it be during trips home or visits to each other, it’s like nothing has changed. 

What experiences from St. John’s are the most memorable? Do you have a favorite teacher, mentor or counselor?

I’d end up writing a novel if I actually went through all of my favorite memories from St. John’s. From games of ground tag on the Big Toy to stressing about planning prom, there are so many moments I’ll remember forever. I had some of the most fun playing sports, acting in drama productions and participating in Mock Trial. All of the memories that still make me smile involve friends I still keep in touch with today.

 I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be the same person now if it weren’t for every teacher and coach I had the opportunity to learn from at St. John’s. They transcended their roles to become confidantes and friends, often guiding us through our most challenging times. I’m so grateful they held us to such high standards because we were not only better students because of it, but we also became better people.

 During junior and senior year, Ms. Chu and Mrs. Petra brought me back from the edge of a mental breakdown more times than I could count, and the close relationship I have with them is something I’ll always cherish. To this day, I can’t see a reference to Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson without thinking of Mrs. Salas, who supported my passion for writing and instilled in me a deep appreciation for literature in all its forms. And of course I can’t forget Shep and Coach Peters, who were both such a huge part of my St. John’s experience.

What would you say to a prospective family who is considering St. John’s School?

St. John’s offers so much more than just a good education. Yes, the curriculum is designed to produce academically high-achieving students, but St. John’s kids are a special breed. Just take a look at the alumni and all that they’ve accomplished since graduating. I am amazed with what the people in my class, as well as those who came before and after me, have done with their lives.


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