T-Squared: Introducing our summer 2021 student fellows

When Isabella Zou first visited our newsroom years ago, she was a local high school student who had started her own journalistic project to tell the stories of homeless Austinites. Now, she’s a Yale University student who is preparing to return to The Texas Tribune as a reporting fellow.

We are thrilled to announce the 11 students selected for our highly competitive 2021 summer fellowship program. In addition to Zou, they are: Madeline Badowski, Paige Brann, Colleen DeGuzman, Farah Eltohamy, Alyssa Feliciano, Jason Kao, Sophie Park, Heidi Pérez-Moreno, Lauren Santucci and Matthew Turk. (Read more about them below.)

These incredible students — who will join us from Texas and across the country — will spend the summer working in one of these areas of our newsroom: audience engagement, data visuals, engineering, events, marketing and communications, multimedia, photography or reporting.

The fellows bring experience at publications including The Arizona Republic, the McAllen Monitor, NBC’s Weekend Today and The New York Times, and skills in languages including Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin. They attend schools including the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Stanford.

Most of the Texas Tribune fellowships are in Austin; one reporting fellow is typically based in Washington, D.C. Because of the pandemic, we don’t yet know whether we’ll get the chance to work with these fellows in person, but the amazing fellowship classes of 2020 — and the current spring class — have shown that it’s possible to do impressive work during a pandemic without setting foot in our newsroom.

These recent fellows produced phenomenal journalism about COVID-19, the presidential election and more. They told important, data-driven stories about the impact of the coronavirus on nursing homes and unemployment, and why Middle Eastern Texans feel left out of the census. They created important photosvideos and social media posts and played critical roles in the virtual Texas Tribune Festival.

Over the years, Texas Tribune fellows have gone on to jobs and fellowships at news organizations including PoliticoThe Dallas Morning NewsTexas Public RadioThe New York TimesThe Sacramento BeeBloomberg News and The Washington Post. And a number of Texas Tribune staffers — including Bobby Blanchard, Eddie Gaspar, Emily Goldstein, Malú González, Regina Mack, Shannon Najmabadi, Cassi Pollock, Alex Samuels, Alexa Ura and our newest staff reporter, Reese Oxner — first joined us through the fellowship program.

Here’s more about the Tribune’s paid fellowship program, which is part time in the spring and fall and full time in the summer. We pair each student with a mentor and design workshops for them on topics like investigative reporting and Texas politics. We’ll add information to this page in April about how to apply for the fall 2021 program.

Madeline Badowski, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin, is the events fellow. Madeline has worked as an event coordination and marketing intern for Eventfull ATX, a marketing and communication intern for Bella by Sara and an associate intern for Wedfully Yours. She’s also been philanthropy director and communication director for the Texas Belles event planning organization.

Paige Brann, a junior at the University of Chicago, is the marketing and communications fellow. Paige has worked as a communications intern for the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, a rural initiatives intern for the UChicago admissions office and an organizing and communications intern for Julián Castro’s presidential campaign. She’s also worked with the fellows program at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and is student editor for the Chicago Journal of Sociology.

Colleen DeGuzman, a senior at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is an Austin reporting fellow. Colleen has worked as a features reporter and designer at The Monitor in McAllen, Texas, and has had internships at NBC’s Weekend Today and Ashoka’s Washington bureau. She is an NPR Next Generation Radio mentee; was a graphic designer for The Advance News Journal in Pharr, Texas; and attended Bloomberg’s business journalism fellowship program.

Farah Eltohamy, a senior at Arizona State University, is the Washington reporting fellow. Farah has worked as a politics intern for The Arizona Republic, a reporter for Cronkite News and a freelance writer for National Geographic. She’s also been a podcast editor and diversity officer for The State Press student newspaper. Farah is fluent in Arabic and proficient in Spanish.

Alyssa Feliciano, a senior at the University of Florida, is the audience engagement fellow. Alyssa has worked as an audience engagement intern for the PBS and NPR affiliate WUFT in Gainesville, Florida, and as a news and production intern for the NBC affiliate WESH in Orlando, Florida. She was also engagement managing editor for The Independent Florida Alligator.

Jason Kao, a junior at Columbia University, is the data visuals fellow. Jason has worked as a news intern at Bloomberg News, where he covered the intersection of race, labor and climate, and a graphics intern at The New York Times, where he covered U.S. immigration and protests in Puerto Rico. He was also the graphics deputy editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Sophie Park, a 2020 graduate of Boston University, is the photography fellow. Sophie has worked as a photo intern for the Harvard Gazette and as a teaching assistant for visual journalism courses at BU. She was also a staff photographer for BU Today and associate photo editor for the Daily Free Press student newspaper. Sophie is the assistant executive director for the Korean American Citizens League and leads a team of contact tracers in Massachusetts.

Heidi Pérez-Moreno, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is an Austin reporting fellow. Heidi has worked as a production assistant for The California Report at the NPR and PBS affiliate KQED. She’s also a reporter and a diversity, equity and inclusion officer at The Daily Tar Heel and was editor-in-chief and social media director for The Reporter at Miami Dade College. Heidi is fluent in Spanish.

Lauren Santucci, a master’s student at Ohio University, is the multimedia fellow. Lauren filmed and produced the Frontline PBS documentary “Growing Up Poor in America” alongside director Jezza Neumann, and she has worked as a creative manager and an associate producer for WDET-FM, Detroit’s NPR station. She was also a features editor for Stereoscope Magazine at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she earned her undergraduate degree. Lauren is vice president of the National Press Photographers Association at Ohio University.

Matthew Turk, a freshman at Stanford University, is the engineering fellow. Matthew is a staff writer at The Stanford Daily, where he’s also revamping the paper’s mobile app. He’s also worked as a front-end developer intern at Rapunzl Investments and a back-end developer intern at Sidekick Education.

Isabella Zou, a Yale University student who is taking a gap year before her junior year, is an Austin reporting fellow. Isabella, an Austin native, has worked as an inequity and disparity reporting intern for the CT Mirror and an intern for the Austin American-Statesman’s Westlake Picayune. She is editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News Magazine and is a research intern for the Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective. Isabella is fluent in Mandarin.

This article was originally published on T-Squared: Introducing our summer 2021 student fellows

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