A Texas-size welcome to 14 summer fellows joining the Tribune

Fellows play key roles in the most important work of The Texas Tribune, covering the biennial legislative sessions, elections, and changes to the environment and climate, among other important topics. (Jordan Vonderhaar For The Texas Tribune, Jordan Vonderhaar For The Texas Tribune)

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The Texas Tribune welcomes 14 talented students and recent college graduates to our fellowship program this summer. Eager to put their classroom lessons into practice, these bright minds come from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines and they are keen to learn, contribute and gain valuable experience.

The state’s go-to source for Texas politics and public policy news, the Tribune offers paid fellowships to college students each spring, summer and fall. Journalism fellows play key roles in our most important work, covering the biennial legislative sessions, elections, and changes to the environment and climate, among other important topics. See recent work by Texas Tribune fellows here.

Over the summer, our fellows will work alongside our experienced professionals on various teams, including data visuals, design, engagement, engineering, events, marketing and communications, photography and reporting. Fellows can expect to tackle real-world projects, contribute innovative ideas, participate in workshops and training sessions, and collaborate with their peers.

Engineering fellow Angela Voit will look for opportunities for AI to enhance our products and processes across the organization and work with us to explore and build tools in this growing space. Voit, a senior data science major at the University of Michigan, said in her application that she wants to apply human-centered design in developing AI for the Tribune.

“From my time at the [student-run Michigan] Daily, I've seen that newsroom engineering has the potential to use AI to improve user experience both for the readers and the internal staffers,” she said.

Generous donors have bolstered the Tribune’s fellowship program, establishing named fellowships such as the Dallas Press Club Foundation Fellowships, as well as Martin Taylor's underwriting of the Tribune HBCU Fellowships. We are grateful for their support.

Dallas Press Club Foundation reporting fellow Juan Salinas II, a senior journalism major at the University of Texas at Arlington, said in his application that he wants to cover government and politics after graduation.

“There are not enough people with different social backgrounds covering government,” Salinas said. “We all have blind spots, so it is important that newsrooms have people who see things from a different lens. I believe that I could provide a working-class perspective. I hope to provide meaningful coverage to people in Texas, especially to the cities and counties that don’t have a dedicated newspaper.”

We're confident this new group of fellows will bring the Tribune fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and valuable skills. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome as big as Texas.

Our summer fellows

Olivia Anderson is an Austin-based photography fellow. A recent graduate of the University of Missouri with degrees in journalism and anthropology, she spent much of her time in college working for the Columbia Missourian. Olivia has interned at the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal and the Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader. A lifelong Houstonian, she enjoys time with friends, binge-watching shows and podcasts, and slowly learning to crochet.

Zahiyah Carter is an Austin-based events fellow and a sophomore at Paul Quinn College in Dallas majoring in communications. Her ultimate goal in life is to create Black media that is not reliant upon Black trauma. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved to Texas with her family in middle school.

Carla Garcia Leija is a design fellow and a design student at the University of Texas at Austin. Through design research and anthropology, she found her niche in exploring the human condition through meaningful interactions. She previously designed for The Daily Texan, the campus newspaper; Texas Performing Arts; and the McCombs School of Business. Carla was born in Mexico, raised in South Texas and is fluent in Spanish.

Mikayla Higgins is an engagement fellow. She is pursuing a degree in journalism at the University of Missouri and previously was on the social media and audience team for Vox Magazine in Columbia, Missouri. She also worked as an arts and culture reporting intern at the Daily Memphian, a digital news site in Memphis, Tennessee, and as an audience planning intern at ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is from Memphis and has a passion for community engagement.

Asad Jung is an Austin-based reporting fellow and a graduate student at the City University of New York’s journalism school with a concentration in local accountability. Before graduate school, he was a general assignment reporter at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. He grew up in Hicksville on Long Island in New York and is excited to try Texas barbecue.

Amara Kwiatkowski is an events fellow based in Austin. A Plan II honors student, Amara recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of arts degree in government and minors in American studies and English. She was the editor in chief of The Texas Orator, a multipartisan political publication on campus; a community engagement intern at Cortez Consulting; and a team leader for The Project, UT's largest day of community service. She loves watching movies and exploring Austin!

Mae Lackey is an engagement fellow based in Austin. A Fort Worth native, Mae is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a degree in journalism with a minor in Chinese. She previously was an audio producer at The Daily Texan, where she created episodes for a series called People of UT that highlights important figures on campus. She also worked for the Austin Chronicle as an editorial intern and for Texas Tasty as a digital media intern. When she’s not at work, Mae enjoys baking and hiking.

Dante Motley is an Austin-based reporting fellow. Before the Tribune, he worked as an intern for the Sacramento Bee and interned for chef José Andrés' media company, helping with cookbooks, TV shows and podcasts. He recently graduated from Yale University, where he was managing editor of the Yale Daily News. He earned his degree in anthropology and political science. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he moved to Round Rock in high school and now considers himself a full-fledged Texan.

Elijah Nicholson-Messmer is a data visuals fellow and a graduate of Berea College and Northeastern University, where he studied English and data journalism, respectively. Elijah’s work has been published by The Boston Globe, WBUR and WCVB, and he has interned at Bloomberg News, Financial Planning through the Dow Jones News Fund, and The Drive. Originally from Garrard County, Kentucky, Elijah enjoys running, rock climbing and playing Jeopardy! with his roommates.

Juan Salinas II is the summer Dallas Press Club Foundation reporting fellow based in Arlington. He is a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in journalism and a transfer student from Tarrant County College, where he worked at the student newspaper, The Collegian. As an intern at public radio station KERA, he covered state politics and local governments, and he was a yearlong reporting fellow at the Fort Worth Report. Juan was born and raised in the North Side neighborhood of Fort Worth.

Lillian Vest is an Austin-based engagement fellow and a junior at the University of Texas at Austin studying journalism. She also studied American Sign Language for three years and is a member of the Deaf Culture Alliance at UT. She is the engagement editor for the student-run lifestyle magazine, BurntXOrange, and works as a senior audio producer for The Daily Texan, UT’s student-run newspaper. Lillian also loves to crochet and collect trinkets.

Angela Voit is a machine learning engineering fellow. She is a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in data science. At college, Angela works for the student-run Michigan Daily as a data journalist. She was the managing online editor of the publication in 2023. She previously was an intern for Infosys in Bangalore, India, and Enova in Chicago. She loves to hike, play piano and explore new restaurants.

Tracy Weng is an Austin-based marketing and communications fellow. She is a junior year at the University of Texas at Austin studying marketing with a minor in English. Tracy is active in various campus spirit and service organizations, including Texas Lassos and Texas Enactus, while working as a campus tour guide. Tracy enjoys reading, visiting new coffee shops and playing tennis.

Isaac Yu is a Washington-based reporting fellow from Garland. He graduated from Yale University, where he was a Journalism Initiative Fellow, managing editor of the Yale Daily News and founder of the Asian American Journalists Association student chapter. Isaac previously interned for The Wall Street Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the New Haven (Connecticut) Independent.

Disclosure: University of Texas - Arlington, University of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin - Texas Enterprise - McCombs School of Business and University of Texas at Austin - Texas Performing Arts 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.

We’ve got big things in store for you at The Texas Tribune Festival, happening Sept. 5–7 in downtown Austin. Join us for three days of big, bold conversations about politics, public policy and the day’s news.

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