Northwestern’s Sisi Wei named SND Foundation Scholarship winner

Sisi Wei

The SND Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of the 2010 SND Foundation Scholarship: Sisi Wei of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

A panel of seven SND leaders selected Wei for the $2,000 award based on her thoughtful answers to two essay questions, the quality of her portfolio, her professor’s recommendation and her strong grade point average.

“Sisi is a solid multimedia journalist,” said Jennifer George-Palilonis, one of the members of the selection panel. “Her portfolio is sophisticated and well rounded, with great examples of interactive graphics and outstanding design work. She clearly understands the power of visual storytelling in the digital world, and her enthusiasm for the future of journalism was evident in her work and her application materials. We are very excited that there are such forward-thinking bright stars on the horizon for visual journalism and know Sisi will make the Society proud as she finishes her degree.”

“I cannot thank you enough for this honor,” Wei said after hearing the news. “Receiving this scholarship has inspired me to work even harder in pursuit of visual storytelling and interactive design.”

This spring Wei was an information design intern at The Washington Post where she designed and programmed user-friendly, interactive projects that work to immerse readers in content and keep them looking for more. She recently started an interactive graphics internship at the Associated Press in New York City.

In 2008, Wei was an editorial intern covering education at Downtown Express, a weekly paper in lower Manhattan. “This writing experience has shaped my storytelling skills and given me the additional journalism experience necessary to code and design as a visual journalist,” she wrote in one of her application essays.

In 2009, Wei was the interactive editor for North by Northwestern, an online student publication where she designed and coded graphics, was responsible for all interactive content on the site and selected the entire multimedia staff. She also helped create a curriculum and taught interactive graphics to that staff.

She served as the assistant design editor for the 2009 Fall issue of NBN Magazine, the first issue to win SPJ’s Best Student Magazine award on the national level.

Wei expects to graduate in June 2011 with a B.S. in journalism and additional majors in legal studies and philosophy. Wei is highly proficient on both print and multimedia software tools. She is also fluent in English and Mandarin Chinese. Wei is a also a student SND member.

Wei says she found her love for journalism in high school and her love for online storytelling in her first college reporting class.

“I want to be a journalist because I strongly believe in our mission of informing and educating the public,” Wei wrote in an application essay. “I want to become an online visual journalist because it is the most beautiful way I can tell stories.”

Wei worked as a teaching assistant for Susan Mango Curtis, an assistant professor at Medill, where Wei led tutorials on Adobe InDesign and Photoshop in Curtis’ media design courses.

“Sisi’s talent and dedication to visual journalism is amazing,” Curtis wrote in her recommendation letter. “She is one of the most talented students in all levels of journalism.”

Wei realizes that technology is just another storytelling tool.

“From computers to smartphones to mobile readers, we in visual journalism are challenged with harnessing each platform’s unique powers and using that knowledge to design and create the best visual storytelling experience possible, she wrote.”

“I was impressed not only by Sisi’s broad array of technical skills,” said SND vice president Steve Dorsey, “but also her clear sense of what she still wanted to learn and how she sought to position herself in our rapidly shifting and dynamic industry.”

And Wei is looking forward to even more technological advances.

“Looking ahead, design may soon even leave the physical two-dimensional playing field,” she wrote. “As 3-D technology leaves the realm of movies and fantasy, visual journalists may soon be presented with a completely new challenge of designing in a third dimension and how to best present data with our new real estate.”

You can check out some of Wei’s work here:

Tour of Guantanamo Bay, The Washington Post

Interactive oil spill map, The Washington Post

Battle at Outpost Keating, The Washington Post

How the Capitals were rebuilt, The Washington Post

ASG candidate guide 2009, North By Northwestern

Northwestern’s energy consumption, mapped out, North By Northwestern

Tracking Bienen’s legacy, word by word, North By Northwestern

Invasion of privacy: Norris University Center, North By Northwestern

Annually, the SND Foundation Scholarship is awarded to deserving students interested in and showing promise for pursuing a career in visual journalism. SNDF received applications from students at eight different universities. The selection panel included:

Jonathan Berlin, SND Secretary/Treasurer
Steve Dorsey, SND Vice President
Jennifer George-Palilonis, SND U.S. Education Director
Stephen Komives, SND Executive Director
Denise M. Reagan, SND Foundation President
Michael Stoll, SND Non-U.S. Education Director
Kris Viesselman, SND President