Reflecting on my first week in Phoenix

Today marks the end of my first week in Phoenix, Arizona, working as a News21 Fellow. 

And even as I typed that, I could hardly believe it.

My first day as a News21 Fellow, May 31, 2022.

I am a News21 Fellow at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. This summer, I will spend ten weeks working with journalists from across the country covering policing reform in America. I have been dreaming of this program since I was in high school and now that I am finally here, it still feels far too incredible to be real. 

I arrived in Arizona last week and spent the next five days traveling with my family. We camped in the Grand Canyon, a personal bucket list item of mine, and saw Sedona, Arizona, before heading back to Phoenix, where the fellowship is based. I moved into my dorm, said goodbye to my family and barely slept the night before my first day as a fellow.

A shot of the Grand Canyon as seen during my trip.

I struggle to pick just one part of this experience so far that is my favorite. All of it is incredible so far, from exploring a new place to working on a project that will hopefully help people across the nation. But at the end of the day, my favorite part has to be the people. 

Imagine going to summer camp as a kid. You can barely sleep the night before, you’re so excited. With your bags all packed, your parents cart you off to a camp somewhere in the woods. Once you get there, you hug them tightly goodbye and promise you’ll write over the next two months. Then, your stomach full of butterflies, you walk into your cabin and try to make new friends. You discover that nearly all of the kids at camp are like you: nervous, excited and happy to be there. 

That’s what it feels like being in News21. Being surrounded by passionate student journalists is a gift I have been lucky enough to have both in Phoenix and at Elon News Network, but let me tell you: the fantastic feeling that comes with being part of a community of hardworking individuals? It never gets old.

As I met new people, I am also learning a ton of new things: from the fact that you can never drink enough water in Phoenix to learning all about where my co-workers and newfound friends are from.

But most of all, I am learning a lot about myself. In just one short week here, I have proved to myself that I have a capacity to grow, change and become that is far larger than I ever thought. I think seventeen-year-old me would be very proud of how far I have come.

As the end of my first week comes to a close, I am reveling in the joy it has brought me and taking solace in the new week ahead. 

Check back to my blog for Saturday updates throughout the summer.