T-Squared: Introducing our spring 2023 fellows

The exterior of the Texas Tribune office in downtown Austin on Nov. 5, 2019. (Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune, Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)

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The new year is upon us and it’s time to welcome The Texas Tribune’s spring 2023 fellowship class. These early career professionals are passionate about journalism and are eager to join the Tribune in its mission to inform Texans — and engage with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

The Tribune offers paid fellowships to college students who want experience in copy editing, data visuals, engagement, engineering, events, marketing and communications, multimedia, photography, and reporting in Austin and Washington, D.C. Fellows play key roles in the most important work of theTribune, covering the Legislature, elections, and public health and safety, among other important topics. They also help plan events, such as the annual Texas Tribune Festival, and support the technology efforts of our nonprofit digital newsroom.

See recent work by Texas Tribune fellows here.

Introducing the 2023 spring fellows starting with us Jan. 9:

Mia Abbe is a marketing and communications fellow based in Austin. She is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin studying corporate communications and government. Previously, Mia worked as a communications assistant for Texas Law, associate managing editor for The Daily Texan and a politics intern for KXAN News.

Samantha Aguilar is a reporting fellow. An Omaha, Nebraska, native, she is a senior at Northwestern University studying journalism and international studies. Samantha is based in Austin for her fellowship and is fluent in Spanish. Previously, she interned at Hearst's KETV Newswatch 7 station and NOISE Omaha.

Drew An-Pham, a senior environmental studies and geography joint major at Middlebury College, is a data visuals fellow. He is the editor-in-chief of Middlebury Geographic, a student-run publication dedicated to sharing inclusive stories about outdoor spaces and intimate places. Previously, Drew was a broadcast research intern for PBS and a design intern for an architecture firm. Outside the newsroom, Drew enjoys rowing, hiking, sustainable fashion, boba and Wes Anderson films.

Kai Elwood-Dieu is a data visuals fellow and is a senior at New York University Shanghai, studying interactive media and business with minors in computer science and Chinese. He’s interested in energy and climate issues and speaks Chinese and Spanish in addition to English. Kai previously worked as an interactive news intern for Politico. He is based in Brooklyn, NY.

Julia Forrest is a Washington, D.C.-based reporting fellow. Julia is a senior at the University of Michigan, where she studies the intersection of media and public policy. She previously freelanced for the Michigan Advance and worked as a reporting intern for Bridge Michigan and OpenSecrets.org. She is originally from Makaha, Hawai’i, and has developed a passion for telling the stories of how money influences political decision-making — which, in turn, affects real communities.

Mia Abbe, Samantha Aguilar, Drew An-Pham and Julia Forrest.

Mia Abbe, Samantha Aguilar, Drew An-Pham and Julia Forrest.

Lana Haffar is a copy editing fellow. Based in Austin, Lana will graduate from UT-Austin in the spring of 2024. Lana was born in Houston and raised in Sugar Land. She previously served as a publications intern at the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition to her editing experience, she hopes to expand her conversational skills in Arabic and German.

Raul Trey Lopez is a reporting fellow. He was born in San Antonio and raised in Converse. He will graduate from Texas A&M University-San Antonio in May with a major in communications and a minor in business administration. During his time with The Mesquite, A&M-San Antonio’s online news site, he covered athletics, campus and student life, the student government association and the Southside community. In his free time, he loves to watch sports, listen to music and spend time with loved ones.

Leila Saidane, a photography fellow, is in her sophomore year at UT-Austin, where she is studying radio-TV-film and journalism. A Dallas native, Leila has worked as an editorial and photography intern for The Austin Chronicle and produced videos, photos and stories during her mentorship at The Dallas Morning News. She has reported and photographed for Community Impact and has been published in the Austin American-Statesman. At The Daily Texan, UT’s student publication, Leila has worked as associate photo editor, senior reporter and projects reporter. Leila believes a strong photojournalist creates a strong image by communicating as much of a story as a news lede in a fraction of the time.

Kai Elwood-Dieu, Lana Haffar, Raul Trey Lopez and Leila Saidane.

Anita Shiva is an Austin-based multimedia fellow. She is a junior at UT-Austin, where she studies human development and family sciences. Before joining the Tribune, she was a videographer for The Daily Texan, where she covered campus events, politics and environmental concerns. At UT, she is a research assistant working on studies related to relationships and their influences on wellbeing. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exploring Austin and spending time with her dog.

Madison Smith is an Austin-based multimedia fellow at the Tribune. Madison is a senior at Northwestern University studying journalism, with a minor in creative writing and a certificate in civic engagement. Previously, Madison was the photo editor, audio editor and diversity and inclusion chair of The Daily Northwestern. She also has worked as a research intern with 60 Second Docs. Madison grew up on a farm in New York’s Hudson Valley and is determined to learn a country line dance during her stay in Texas.

Maia Spoto is an engagement fellow working in Austin. They were previously a reporting intern with Bloomberg Law and Chalkbeat. Maia, who grew up in Reston, Virginia, will graduate from Northwestern University in March with majors in journalism and global health studies and a minor in legal studies. At Northwestern, they were managing editor, audience editor and city editor of The Daily Northwestern. Maia also mentors Northwestern first-year students as a peer adviser and DJs for campus radio. They love road trips and dancing.

Emma Williams is an engagement fellow who was born and raised in Austin. She will graduate from UT-Austin in 2023 with a major in journalism and a minor in government. She covered Texas policy and politics in her last semester as a Tribune engagement fellow and covered Austin culture and local politics in her work for The Daily Texan, Austin Monthly magazine and KUT.

Anita Shiva, Madison Smith, Maia Spoto and Emma Williams.

Anita Shiva, Madison Smith, Maia Spoto and Emma Williams.

Disclosure: Northwestern University - Medill School of Journalism, Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.