A night with Reporter Corps South LA


Ryan Johnson welcomes people to the 24th Street Theatre

Reporter Corps, a new program that trains young adults to report on their own communities,  presented the work of its first South L.A. class Tuesday evening at the 24th Street Theatre.

Reporter Corps interns presented an audiovisual tour of  their South L.A. communities and a preview of their in-depth educational stories to more than 50 people that included community members, USC Annenberg students and professors, and Eighth District City Councilman Curren Price.

The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism selected the six South L.A. residents, ages 18 – 23, from a competitive pool for the 10-week program. Participants received intensive multimedia reporting training from volunteer journalists representing outlets including the LA Times, KPCC, Wall Street Journal, Streetsblog SouthLA and others. Each participant developed a personal education story in partnership with the Hechinger Report, a non-profit news organization.

Below, find a social media diary of the evening, and an overview of each young person’s story.

Final articles will be published on Intersections South LA, the partner outlet, and the Hechinger Report. Below are excerpts:

“College Isn’t For Us.”

“When I was about 12 years old I remember coming home from my middle school’s annual College Day excited to share with all of my neighborhood friends info about all the programs and schools I learned about that day. My best friend Randall gave me the most confused of looks and said, “College isn’t for us.” But after doing some research and speaking with Randall I realized that the diversion began much earlier. I decided to focus my final story with Reporter Corps South LA on the importance of teacher and parent attention on one’s academic success to depict the key role community plays in fostering our children. And I do this by focusing on the shared and varied experiences of my friend Randall and I.”

Skylar Myers, a recent graduate of UC San Diego

Reporter Corps

Reporter Corps members Mario Narciso, Miguel Molina and Skylar Myers.

“Obama offered me protection from deportation and the chance to get a job-but what about my education?”

“I am told I crossed the border to the United States when I was two years old, sitting in the back of a car. But my earliest memories are of South Los Angeles. I remember my parents staying up until midnight and then waking up every weekday and on Saturdays at 3:00 a.m.  This November will mark two years since my parents stopped making tamales and moved to Indiana because a gang member was extorting them. Since then, the Obama administration’s Deferred Action program has opened up possibilities for young undocumented immigrants like myself , but my future is still in limbo, and I’m still separated from my family since the educational opportunities for undocumented students in other states are not the same as in California. But it’s not enough. Deferred Action is temporary, and it does not provide opportunities to fund higher education. And different states have different rules. My story explores the confusing, and often unjust, immigration  laws by comparing what my experience would be in Indiana versus California.”

Miguel  Molina, student at East Los Angeles Community College

“You should just get pregnant – the government will help you.” One young woman’s struggle to pursue higher education in Watts.

“As a child, I was always told that education is the key to success. However, after I graduated from high school, my neighbors often stated that they felt the key to stability was to either access resources illegally or rely on the government — either way higher education was the last thing on their minds. As I got older and completed my first year of college, I began to question what I was told about education promising and securing a better future. I wondered whether their plan to rely on government assistance was a better idea. After all, in my community I see much greater resources and support for those who do things that delay going to college and obtaining a degree than people who attend college straight out of high school. Through my article I explore how difficult it is to be a college student in Watts, and how there is a belief that it would be easier to be a young mother (with the government’s support) — and how I feel there needs to be resources for young people in Watts who want to pursue higher education.

–Shanice Joseph, student at Long Beach City College

Growing up Queer in Watts –what happens when school is still not a safe place.

Reporter Corps

Reporter Corps members Shanice Joseph, Jazmin Garcia, Ryan Johnson and Xochil Frausto.

When I attended Jordan High School, I was lucky to be around peers who were also tapping into their sexuality and together we founded the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). We pushed for awareness about hate crimes and violence against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Questioning (LGBTQ) community, and a safe place for support. When we created the GSA, we thought it would be a permanent club that would exist for the future youth at Jordan. I did not expect for it to dissolve and leave no organization for the students today. My story explores the impact of support in inner-city schools for queer students.”

–Xochil Frausto, student at Laney College in the Bay Area

Can Crenshaw High convince an affluent African American community to stay local?

 “As a child, Baldwin Hills, my middle class African-American enclave in South Los Angeles, seemed perfect. But in my teens, my perspective began to change. Since the local schools were among the lowest performing in the city, many parents ended up paying $8,000 to $25,000 to send their children to private schools far away.  “Have car, will travel,” became my mother’s refrain. Since I went to a private Catholic high school across town, weekends became my only chance  to spend time with other kids like me. I would attend meetings of Jack and Jill—an African-American community service-based organization— and compare stories with my peers about balancing one-hour commutes with homework and extracurricular activities, and what it’s like to attend schools where there were very few people of color.”

Ryan Johnson, student at Loyola Marymount University

Reporter Corps event

Radio reporter Kerstin Zilm speaks with her mentee Mario Narciso prior to the presentation.


Understanding special education — the decision to integrate students into a regular class

 “My story is about understanding special education and misconceptions about it. In preschool, I was placed into special education because I was slow to speak. For my story, I have researched why students with mild to moderate disabilities are placed in special ed, and I have also looked at the challenges of integrating students into regular classes and the important role of parent involvement.”

Mario Narciso, a recent graduate of Foshay A. Learning Center and an incoming freshman of  UC Riverside

Congratulations to our participants for finishing this program and getting the voices of your community heard. Look out for these stories, here, on  Intersections South LA and the Hechinger Report.

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