This spring, California Humanities launched the 2021 Democracy and the Informed Citizen Emerging Journalist Fellowship Program to support students enrolled at California community colleges. Through a competitive application process, $88,000 in fellowship funds were awarded to eight community colleges supporting 31 student journalists. Ranging from rural far northern California to the southern US/Mexico border region, the campuses reflect the state’s breadth of geography and diversity. Campuses awarded fellowships include:
Bakersfield College, Bakersfield
City College of San Francisco, San Francisco
De Anza College, Cupertino
Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles
San Diego City College, San Diego
Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa
Shasta College, Redding
Riverside City College, Riverside
In addition to financial support, participating fellows receive enhanced training in community-engaged journalism, podcasting, media literacy, and mentoring from professional journalists. As part of the fellowship, students also conduct an in-depth reporting project on issues of regional importance to share with statewide audiences.
I am a first-generation immigrant, the product of a single mother, and the first in my family to receive a four-year degree. I live in far North Eastern California in the rural town of Fall River Mills. The project that I’m working on is very personal to me. It is regarding immigrant youth growing up in the shadows of America. It touches on identity issues and feelings of not belonging. The main concept of my project is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, and how that bill has greatly impacted the lives of thousands of immigrant youth, including myself.
– Rosa Yadira Contreras, Journalism Fellow, Shasta College
The statewide cohort of fellows convened virtually for a kick-off media summit in January 2021 and regularly meet throughout the semester. Facilitated by Joaquin Alvarado of StudioToBe, the convenings offer students opportunities to make connections with peers in different regions of the state, share their work, reflect on their role as journalists and media makers, and learn practical skills from professional journalists and one another.
This program gives me the chance to finally focus on one topic and create a podcast, which is something that I’ve never done before. We are studying the state of constant catastrophe that the North Bay is in right now. As it gets hotter, our fire season is getting longer and longer. I’ve talked with people who have rebuilt their houses three times now. We Sonomians, and people in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Napa, we’re resilient. – Nick Vides, Journalism Fellow, Santa Rosa Junior College
We’re working on a project to tell the stories of how the pandemic has impacted first-generation college students who are the children of agriculture workers. We chose this subject because we felt there is not enough news coverage in the rural communities in the past year.
– Haley Duval, Journalism Fellow, Editor-in-Chief for Bakersfield College’s the Renegade Rip
With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Federation of State Humanities Councils, this statewide initiative is designed to amplify student journalists’ voices and perspectives throughout California. Throughout, the initiative’s goals are to incorporate the insight and perspective of journalists and the context and inquiry of the humanities to develop critical journalism skills, encourage media literacy, and foster civic engagement.
Overall, my goal is to be the best reporter I can be. Objectivity and ethics are of the utmost importance to me, and I am what my adviser Matt Schoenmann calls a “true believer” in what we do. I am completely open to a wide array of issues that need coverage and, at this point, am eager to step into the next phase of my education and career.
– Erik Galicia, Journalism Fellow, Riverside City College
Getting to network and learn things from other journalism students in California is going to be very beneficial for me in the near future. From the fellowship, I have learned that everyone in California is dealing with a similar issue that gets little to no coverage, whether it’s dealing with income, housing, or school.
– Amaya Lawton, Journalism Fellow, Bakersfield College
The Democracy and the Informed Citizen Emerging Journalist Fellowship program is presented in partnership with the Journalism Association of Community Colleges (JACC).
I went into journalism because I liked that journalism gave me the ability to deliver facts to people while also changing lives. I am changing the lives of people who can’t use their voice or find it challenging to speak about issues that are significant to them. Growing up, I was always indecisive about what career path I wanted to take. All I knew is that I wanted to change the world. This career allows me to do that by being that storyteller, and that’s why I love journalism.
– Maritza Camacho, Journalism Fellow, Santa Rosa Junior College
To learn more about the Democracy and Informed Citizen Initiative, click here.