Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, but raised just down the 101 in Oak Park, Atmika Iyer chose UCSB thanks to great weather and a fun Friday night during her senior year of high school. Now a second-year global studies major, she plans to continue working in journalism upon graduation and is already part of impressive projects, both here at our newspaper and for the Daily Nexus on campus.
How’d you get interested in journalism? My freshman year of high school, I saw the show House of Cards and was in awe of the journalist character. Granted, she died fairly quickly, but her boss behavior made the career seem quite appealing. I quickly joined my high school newspaper, The Talon. I caught the journalism bug, and it’s stuck with me for five years, going on six.
Tell us about the Isla Vista project you’ve been working on. Over at the Daily Nexus, I worked with my news team and our campus radio station KCSB to create a project called “Unmasking Isla Vista: A COVID-19 Community Archive.” COVID-19 has caused permanent changes in almost all communities, and Isla Vista is no exception. I was inspired to take on a project that investigated and showcased how a college town known for its parties battled and continues to battle through a pandemic. Immediately, my colleagues jumped on board and helped turn the idea into reality.
The project itself is quite collaborative and required the time, talent, and dedication of more than 20 people to create interactive maps, interactive data, artwork, infographics, photographs, podcasts, and articles. The culmination of all of our hard work tells the story of how Isla Vista has weathered 18 months of a pandemic, and I’m so grateful to everyone who helped create it.
How have you liked your internship? I’ve loved the experience! Ironically, it took an internship with the Independent for me to realize that I love reporting on research happening at UCSB. The highlight was working on a piece about healthcare equity. With every interviewee, the only thing running in my mind was, “Journalism is the only way several accomplished healthcare workers sit down with a 19-year-old to discuss healthcare equity.”
To keep up with Atmika Iyer’s work, follow her on Twitter.