Her childhood disease fueled a young woman’s philanthropic initiative

By Nadia Adams
Medill Reports

When she was a child, Nadia Howse was in and out of the hospital. She suffered from a rare childhood disease that affects mainly Asians and boys. She was neither, so it didn’t immediately occur to her doctors that it could be Kawasaki Disease.

Luckily, because of her mother’s concern and teaching background, Nadia was able to be treated for the condition. And the experience sparked an idea to help others.

When she was 14, Nadia and her mother, Iris Reed, started Nadia’s Howse of Hope. The nonprofit organization brings educational supplies to children who stay in the hospital for an extended period of time. They also raise money to donate to hospitals to buy educational material for young patients.

In this video piece, Nadia and Iris discuss the story behind Nadia’s Howse of Hope.

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Indiana kids meet an opossum, a skunk and an owl. Oh,my.

By Stephanie Fox
Medill Reports

Sitting cross legged on the floor, a group of children smiled excitedly as a small creature walked up to each of their feet, wiggled its nose and moved on. The children’s hands fidgeted in their laps, itching for a chance to touch an animal that most people are terrified to even look at.

“Can I pet her?” one of the smaller girls asked as the creature waddled out of the semi-circle the children had formed.

A child watches as Toona the opossum explores. (Stephanie Fox/Medill)

“No. We’re not going to pet her,” said Nicole Harmon, who has the title of “humane educator” at the Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. The center falls under a parent organization called Humane Indiana which initially only took in domestic animals until July of 2014 when it decided to expand to accommodate the large number of calls received about injured wildlife.

As Harmon spoke, she walked over and scooped up the wandering opossum from the floor and cradled it like a baby. Continue reading

Transgender woman challenges South Africa to open a new conversation about LGBTQ+ discrimination

By Thomas Ilalaole
Medill Reports


According to a recent government study,  three million South Africans present themselves in a gender-non-conforming way. But in the city of Johannesburg, the LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle for acceptance.

In South African society, stereotypes and expectations of masculinity are deeply ingrained, and identities that don’t exist on the binary—or sexualities that are anything other than straight—are not widely accepted. Although the South African constitution says “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, sexual orientation…” the LGBTQ+ community still faces prejudice.

Nicole Louw is a transgender female photographer, model and rugby player. She  grew up as a heterosexual, masculine man. She says as a transgender woman, she still has had relationships with gay men, as well as gay women. However, she says, heterosexual men and women still treat her differently. Continue reading

Soldier Field 10 Mile race kicks off running season from 50 yard line

By Nicole Croteau
Medill Reports

Kicking off the start of running season, RAM Racing held its Soldier Field 10 Mile race where runners start and finish at the 50 yard line.

The annual race on Memorial Day weekend is open to all runners at all levels. Starting on the famous field, the course then guides runners by the lakefront, through the city and back.

Each runner had a unique story and motivation that inspired them to join the race.

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South-side youth group uses open-mic events to prevent gun violence

By Shannon Longworth
Medill Reports

Memorial Day weekend in Chicago has typically seen the year’s first major spike in gun violence in the city, and this year was no different. More than 40 people were shot, five of them fatally, over the holiday weekend.

It’s one of the reasons Good Kids Mad City hosted an open mic on the Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend. The non-profit is a group of minority high school and college students from the west and south sides of Chicago. Their work involves publicly demonstrating as well as hosting programs for teens in their communities. Open mic events are intended to keep young people away from situations that put them at risk.

Photo at top: Good Kids Mad City hosts an open mic night at the Bronzeville Incubator on Saturday, May 25, 2019 (Shannon Longworth/MEDILL)

Art and science in the time of Cajal: How paying homage to neuroscience’s founder helps scientists frame new research

By Valerie Nikolas
Medill Reports

“Undoubtedly, only artists devote themselves to science.”
– Santiago Ramón y Cajal, 1900 interview

Art and science may seem like complete opposites to some. But for Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience, blending the two led him to groundbreaking discoveries about the human mind. Growing up in the late half of the 19th century, Cajal dreamed of becoming an artist, but his father encouraged him to pursue medicine instead.

As a neuroscientist, Cajal found a way to blend his talents by drawing detailed diagrams of the brain as he observed it through a microscope. “Cajal represents a good example of the bridge between science and artistic inspiration that existed in an earlier age,” said Javier DeFelipe, a researcher at Cajal’s namesake research institute in Madrid.

Novel at the time, scientists still use Cajal’s drawings and techniques in research today. He won the Nobel Prize in 1906 for his pioneering work.

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Legacy, change, fulfillment: Northwestern’s Nick Paciorek looks his future face-to-face

By Andre Toran
Medill Reports

The mid-July sun illuminated the sky above Chuckie Fick’s California home with a glow sweeter than the first bite of a summer peach. There in Fick’s backyard, Northwestern pitcher Nick Paciorek stood on the lip of a makeshift putting green, focusing on the instructions he just received. “Front shoulder uphill, front shoulder uphill. Keep your shoulder uphill.”

Formerly a catcher, Paciorek was transitioning to the mound last summer, and like a sponge, he was soaking in all the instruction he could.

Sixty feet away from him, Fick was down in a squat.

Paciorek began his delivery and propelled the ball violently through the air towards Fick– the stark white of the ball aggressively contrasting with sandy cinderblock fence in the background.

Before Fick could blink, the ball hit his glove, popping the leather like a wet towel hitting flesh.

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Goat yoga: Connecting with animals, the earth and each other

By Stephanie Fox
Medill Reports

Floral incense float to the floor in a swirl of smoke. A cool breeze sneaks through the window cracks and echoes the sounds of the country. Outside, the sun is shining, but inside Blue Sky Farm’s make-shift yoga studio the low-light and metal star-covered walls elicit a feeling of serenity reminiscent of the forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Much like Shakespeare’s classic comedy, things aren’t always what they seem.

Circling the women sitting cross-legged on mats are six baaing, leaping and headbutting baby goats. For the yoga students, the goats are a hilarious addition to an otherwise relaxing activity. To the goats, the yoga students are something they jump off in a flailing ball of hoof and fur. Continue reading

The Odds of Becoming a MLB Umpire are Slim to None — But Don’t Tell That to Vincent Stio

Ben Friedl
Medill Reports

Young baseball fans often dream of playing shortstop for their favorite Major-League teams. Chicago Cubs. However, for 11-year-old Vincent Stio, this dream is trivial. Instead, Vincent wants to be where the real action is, behind home plate calling balls and strikes.

“Umpires actually get to call the game, which is more fun,” said Stio in a phone interview from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. “When you’re a hitter, you only get a few chances to bat or field.”

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American students become kung fu masters at Chicago studio

By Jessy Zhou
Medill Reports

Master Wu Jing Chao came to the United States from China with a dream: to allow individuals in America to understand, appreciate and practice authentic Chinese martial arts. He founded Bei Dou Kung Fu in 2006, and says he was one of the first schools to officially offer classes that train Americans in the art of Wushu, as Kung Fu is called in China.

To accomplish this goal, he established three standards for his school. Unlike schools that only offer classes to an established age group of people or only to adults, Bei Dou Kung Fu trains students of all ages, including adults, children and even senior citizens.

Photo at top: Master Wu Jing Chao trains American students to become Kung Fu Masters. (Jessy Zhou/Medill)