By Paul Gariy ’21, Kenya
Urmi Vallassery ‘21, USA-Texas, participated in the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism’s six-week project focused on youth activism in Northern New Mexico.
The program opened Urmi’s eyes to journalism.
“I do not know if I will pursue a career in it, but I am keeping my options open,” she said.
Urmi heard about the program during the 2020 summer break and applied in October.
“I have never been actively involved in things related to journalism,” she said. “I have been involved in research, but not research involving people and certain issues in society and creating a story out of it. And with my interests in politics and international relations, I thought the program would be interesting.”
Urmi was excited to be accepted.
“I was also happy that it was a close-knit group of people that I was working with since we were only four people in the group,” she said.
During the first two weeks, participants took introductory lessons conducting interviews, gathering resources for the interviews and writing news stories. The next three weeks were spent choosing people and organizations to write about and conducting interviews. During the final week, stories were written and edited.
She was impacted by the fact that the program participants were immediately treated like journalists and nothing was sugar-coated.
“I also have a newfound respect for people in the field of journalism since it requires a lot of fact-checking and being very attentive,” Urmi said. “I also realized how confident you should be in creating a story. One of the problems I had was not being a traditional activist, but my piece being on activism. I had to stick to the piece and create a story out of it.”
She believes the experience brought her closer to the subjects of her stories.
“I was very nervous about that because I had never interviewed people before,” Urmi said. “To take someone’s words and create them into a story and something that any audience could read is powerful.”