Where are they now? ECC alums working to be successful in their fields


Chelsea Behrens attends Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., near St. Louis.

Ethan Wiles, Staff Writer

Many students have come through the doors of Elgin Community College over the years; a lot of those students have gone on to work for companies in their dream field. These individuals spent part of their time at ECC interviewing students, professors and more to produce the student-led newspaper, the Observer, and are finishing up their school career or have now gone on to work professionally in fields that they had been interested in since their time at ECC.

One ECC alum is already out of college and has stepped out into the real world. Angelica Cataldo graduated from ECC in 2016 and was a reporter for the Observer from 2015 to 2016.

I love journalism at its core, and I felt like it was a solid start to college media and the ‘big leagues,’ if you will,” Cataldo said. “It really does give you a good idea as to what a newsroom is like and how hard the various jobs within it can be.”

She went on to attend Eastern Illinois University and graduated in 2018 with a degree in journalism.

“I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I am to be done with school,” Cataldo said.

Cataldo now works for a digital marketing research agency called Dose Media. A company that uses social media as a platform to gain consumer insights.

“I source our news and content from the very thing I majored in, journalism,” she said. “I may not be writing as many in-depth stories, but I am constantly immersed in the media, pop culture and current events worldwide. I have found a way to use the skills I learned through journalism and utilize it for a different, but equally as important, platform.”

She also credits her time at ECC and her time on the Observer as something that helped her be so successful in life now.

“Working at the Observer helped me become a better leader, not just with the staff, but of my own goals and myself,” Cataldo said. “It helped me build the work ethic I have today and also set me up to push myself to continually want to improve myself and the publication or workplace I am a part of.”

Another ECC alum, Ryan Naughton, is preparing to enter life after college as he is finishing his final semester at Northern Illinois University where he studies journalism.

“With it being my last semester at NIU, I will be working at a broadcasting center in Batavia for the summer as an intern,” Naughton said. “After that, I will be looking for a full-time job in broadcasting, mainly as an anchor or a producer.”

Naughton was a staff writer for the Observer from spring 2015 to 2017 when he graduated from ECC.

“The best part about being on the staff was both writing the stories, or at least the interesting ones, to meeting new people ranging from the students I interviewed to the new staff members on the Observer,” Naughton said.

Naughton knew when he was at ECC that he wanted to go into journalism. However, his time on the staff changed his future plans.

“I wanted to go into something in the weather section of journalism,” Naughton said. “During my time at the Observer, my ideas changed, and I wanted to go into broadcast journalism so I started doing things like that.”

Naughton also spent time working at the Northern Television Center while attending NIU.

“In my first semester, I was a producer for the main half-hour news segment we had every week,” Naughton said. “My favorite part of that would be that I got to create my own show with the news stories that I got to choose.”

The Observer was a helpful step for Naughton and prepared him to transfer to a university and focus on what he wanted to do in the future.

“After my time there, I was able to write successfully, and it helped me get to where I am today in the journalism world,” Naughton said.

One alumnus is a little further from home but is still is very grateful for her time at ECC.

Chelsea Behrens attended ECC from 2017 to 2018 and is now at Lindenwood University in St. Louis where she is studying broadcast communications. She also spent time working at the Observer while attending ECC.

“I was interested in the Observer to get to know more students at ECC,” Behrens said. “I also wanted to be a part of a club and get college credit.”

Before joining the Observer, Behrens was interested in communications and knew it would help her with her intended major.

“The Observer gave me an idea of what it is like being in the media communications field,” Behrens said. “No matter what medium you’re performing for, there is always some kind of communication obstacle that people have to learn in this field. It’s all about the story you have to tell and how it is told.”

Although she is only a junior at Lindenwood, Behrens is already on the path to pursuing her dream job in the communications field.

“I was honored to recently be offered an internship position at Coolfire Studios in St. Louis as their TV post-production intern,” Behrens said. “It is a very competitive slot, there were only 10 internships possible.”

While she prepares to pursue a career as a film editor, the skills she learned at her time on the Observer will help her with her new internship.

“I will be assisting all editors and directors in whatever they need while I earn valuable experience,” Behrens said.

There are many different outlets a journalism student can take. For Behrens, sacrifice is a word that came to mind when picking her dream job.

“Setting goals in mind is essential,” Behrens said. “It’s okay if dreams change, just like we do every single day.”

As someone who has gone through the school process and is in the business world, Cataldo has a message for students who are still working on their future.

“Be open-minded,” Cataldo said. “Through opportunity, you may find a way to utilize your talent and really be successful in your own way. You can use that success to one day pursue your dream.”

Like many of us picking a major for the first time, Naughton didn’t think his field of choice was right for him.

“Don’t stop,” Naughton said. “When I first started in journalism, I had doubts about if I was going into the right field. After all the stuff I’ve been through, from the Observer to the NTC to my internship I am getting, I can say that it is all worth it.”