Credit: Courtesy

With graduation just around the corner, we want to celebrate our Indy interns who are turning their tassels. This week, we are highlighting graduating senior Isabella Leonard, who has been working with our news team.

What first brought you to the Independent as a news intern? Have you done journalism anywhere else before?

I am in the UC Santa Barbara Professional Writing Minor program on the Journalism track, and part of our course is to find an internship for our spring semester. I had never formally done journalism outside of a classroom, so this was an incredible experience. I chose to interview with the Independent because I love their style and coverage, and I wanted experience within a local newsroom.

What has your time interning here been like? What’s been your favorite story to work on?

I started interning during my spring quarter in April. I have covered City Council meetings, local events, and featured community programs. My favorite story is my feature on the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program. I love the opportunity to give space for recognition to local heroes, my interviews were so uplifting, and I was glad to be able to help raise awareness for the program. It was incredible to learn from Ryan [Cruz] and be in the newsroom with Jean [Yamamura], Jackson [Friedman], Callie [Fausey], and Nick [Welsh]. Everyone is so talented while being equally welcoming and supportive.

Credit: Courtesy

What are some of your favorite places here in Santa Barbara? What will you miss the most?

With a college-level budget, I stayed pretty closely within the Isla Vista surrounding area. I love Devereux Beach and the sixth floor of the library with my friends. I’ll miss concerts in the parks and heading up to Lizard’s Mouth for a sunset. I’m moving to Los Angeles and handing myself over to a car-centric existence, so I’ll definitely miss being steps from the beach and walking into town for late-night snacks.

What are your plans for after graduation? Where do you hope to see yourself career-wise in the future?

After graduation, I am moving to L.A. with some friends from UCSB. I have a position as an Associate Producer at Kettle Digital Creative Agency. I was an intern last summer and fell in love with the company, so I am very excited to be going back. In five to 10 years, I hope to have continued as a creative producer, in whatever form that takes on; in the agency, entertainment, or news world. And I hope to continue to write on the side. I find myself passionate about many different niches in media, and I am always looking toward the next thing. So, I hope to see myself exploring and continuing to follow my curiosity.

What was the most fulfilling part of doing journalism for you? How do you like to approach a new assignment or a possible lead? Where do you hope to go in the writing field, if at all?

The most fulfilling part of journalism for me is embracing the role of the reporter as a “committed observer.” This concept, which we frequently discuss in my writing program at UCSB with Professor Nomi Morris, resonates deeply with me. I believe that journalism, particularly local journalism, is essential for a community’s well-being and for the functioning of democracy as a whole.

Credit: Courtesy

During my time at the Indy, I wasn’t necessarily upholding national democracy, but I enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a communicator for my community. For example, the average person is unlikely to sit through a four-hour California Coastal Commission meeting. In the past couple of months, I found satisfaction in watching these meetings, tracking SpaceX’s activities, synthesizing the information, and sharing these developments with the community. In doing so, I could hold some level of accountability for the larger forces affecting our community.

Although I do not see myself in print journalism as a career, I learned priceless skills in writing, interviewing, and communication during my time here that will be essential in my future career. I do plan on continuing to write but focusing on opinion, or short-form prose, and screenplays.

What have you studied at UCSB? How was your experience during your time here?

I am graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Media, and minors in English and Journalism. I have loved my time in Santa Barbara. Not only is the campus and location beautiful, but Isla Vista is such a special community. I don’t know if I’ll be a part of another one like it in my adult life. The ability to go through the stressful growing pains of college and then take a walk on the beach for an instant cure is such a privilege. Academically, I got very involved in the film community at UCSB and worked with some incredibly talented lifelong friends. And by rounding out my experience with my internship at the Indy, I feel I have truly squeezed everything I could out of these four years.

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