This summer, the Los Angeles Times HS Insider, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, is pleased to offer nine paid internships that will focus on arts—broadly defined—and its impacts on critical issues in the community. Through their reporting on the arts, interns will learn about the important economic and social roles that the arts play, and how our city’s greatest strengths and biggest challenges can often be viewed through a cultural or creative lens. Get to know the seven high school interns and two college interns below, and follow @hsinsider and the #InternAffairs on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to keep up with the interns’ work.
High School Interns
Simone Chu | @simonechuu
Simone Chu is a rising senior hailing from Arcadia High School, where she is the editor-in-chief of the school’s monthly paper, The Apache Pow Wow. Simone loves telling stories both fictional and factual, and after making a mini-documentary for a history project in the fourth grade, decided that journalism would be the path that she would follow. Simone is passionate about how people communicate, and the tacit ideas and values that come with different means of communication. Art is one of many means of expression, and over the course of the summer, Simone is excited to learn more about the rich ideas and backgrounds that are so prevalent in the Los Angeles community with HS Insider (as well as polish her videography skills).
In the future, Simone hopes to work in broadcast journalism. When she’s not writing, you can find her sitting with a sketchbook or spending time with her cat.
Michael Meeks | @Papimeeks
Michael Meeks is a native of California’s San Fernando Valley, and attended high school at the quirky Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the fall, he will attend CSUN and major in political science. A four year member of band, and the son of a freelance artist, Michael feels he has some stock in the Los Angeles arts scene. He does not consider himself a “social justice warrior,” but rather a civics minded, politically active human being. He occupies his days by blogging and talking of politics, but plans to chronicle a standout music program within the LAUSD this summer. Otherwise, and as part of his work for HS Insider, he is excited in pursuing and covering his broader interests in the arts and education.
Joey Maya Safchik | @JoeyMaya71
Joey Maya Safchik is a rising senior at CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts, where she is the editor-in-chief of the school publications, The Paw Print (digital) and The Champion (print). Joey, a storytelling enthusiast, fell in love with journalism on a trip to a museum with a pretend broadcasting desk in the fifth grade, where she sat for hours informing bystanders of the “news” at the museum. She later appeared as a guest correspondent on Nick News with Linda Ellerbee.
Joey is an avid theatre lover, and is a recipient of a BroadwayWorld LA Award, but her curiosity about the world around her and immense passion for writing and current events have allowed her to find her place in the world of journalism. She looks to ultimately be involved in both print and broadcast.
As a socially conscious young reporter who has witnessed the profound positive impact the arts can have on society, she could not be more excited to “learn by doing” this summer at the Times, and intends to use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a platform to report on artistic-related achievements and issues, especially those that involve the role of arts in social change. This summer, she intends to obtain as much knowledge about the Times, social media, and professional reporting as possible.
Joey resides in Tarzana, where she spends time acting, reading, listening to Hamilton, and volunteering with The Miracle Project.
Luis Valente | @luisvalenteLA
Luis Valente is a rising junior at South East High School. Growing up, Luis loved to watch the KTLA 5 Morning News, and often times, he would get to school late because he didn’t want to miss segments featuring Gayle Anderson, one of his favorite reporters. Eventually, he straightened up his act and gets to school on time, for the most part.
Still a novice at reporting and writing, Luis hopes to become familiar with both filming and editing and discover some new tricks and tips to journalism. After the internship, he’ll reveal all the juicy secrets and different ways of reporting to his staff and make the Jaguar Times great again.
Luis is an activist of sorts, and as part of the debate club, he tackles real-world issues head-on, whether it be immigration or drone surveillance. He firmly believes that culture is a vital part of the human identity, and takes pride in his Latino heritage, whether it be eating delicious Mexican food or bopping his head to bachata and Spanish rock. Working with the Times, Luis will get to know Los Angeles even more through the immersive art scene and discover why it’s the best city in the world.
Luis is a writer and editor of the Arts & Entertainment page for his school newspaper, the Jaguar Times. When he’s not stressing about deadlines, he spends his free time watching reruns of Orange is the New Black and The Office.
Destiny Wiley-Yancy | @dwileyyancy
Destiny Wiley-Yancy is a recent graduate of Hollywood High School. She will be heading to Smith College in the fall where she will double major in English and government, with a concentration in social change. Her love for storytelling developed during her time as a mentee at the Los Angeles based non-profit, WriteGirl, before she moved on to write as a reporter on her school newspaper, The Crimson Chronicle. Her hobbies include working to create equitable educational resources for communities of color, lugging around her tired journal, and people-watching. She is intrigued by the significance of race in the American educational system, the use of art as social activism, and the element of art in cultural expression. An art aficionado and advocate, she hopes to immerse herself in just about everything related to educational equity and arts accessibility while at The Los Angeles Times. When she isn’t trying to save the world, you can find her huddling over the collection of classics in her bedroom or fangirling over Rachel Maddow.
Jessica Zhou | @itsjesszhou
Jessica Zhou went to West Torrance High School, and will attend Washington State University, majoring in Computer Science with a possible minor in the social sciences.
At the most basic level, she’s interested in telling the stories of adolescence and their relevance to society. She’s fascinated by how teens take to different art forms as personal outlets, and identities formed at the intersection of ethnicity and gender, and the way they interact in digital mediums. Through this summer internship, she hopes to strengthen her filming and editing chops, learn about and interact more with the teenagers that participate in HS Insider, and fall a little bit more in love with Los Angeles through its richly diverse arts and culture.
She was a part of her high school yearbook (The Chieftain) and newspaper (Smoke Signals), two publications which have formed her foundation in writing, research, reporting, and photography. Currently she is the blog manager for The Blueshift Journal and web development intern for Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.
Off-duty, she goes by Jay Zee, is (still) an incessant question-asker as well as aspiring wizard, 50/50 cat/dog person, frozen food Masterchef, and internet explorer.
Rebecca Castillo | @beccastillo_
Rebecca Castillo is a recent graduate of Charter Oak High School and will be going off to Swarthmore College in the fall. There, she will major in English with an emphasis in creative writing and Political Science. She hopes to learn more about investigative reporting through her internship with High School Insider, as well as learning how to navigate a newspaper. She loves reading about the election and current events and hopes to have some strong discussions about that while she is here. With the experience that she gains here, Rebecca plans on writing for Swarthmore’s newspaper, The Phoenix, and online journal, The Daily Gazette. She hopes to one day pursue a career in journalism or screenwriting. When she’s not writing or doing homework, Rebecca can be found binge-watching The Office.
Tessa Weinberg | @Tessa_Weinberg
Tessa is beginning her sophomore year at the University of Missouri where she is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in investigative reporting and minoring in film studies. On campus she pursues her passions for multimedia and social justice through her involvement with the campus newspaper, The Maneater, where she serves as the Projects Editor and has reported on campus demonstrations ranging from Planned Parenthood protests to topless rallies. In addition, she is involved in student organizations such as Mizzou Women In Media, Online News Association Mizzou, Diversity Peer Educators and Mizzou Alternative Breaks. As one of HS Insider’s inaugural high school interns last summer, Tessa is thrilled to be working with and mentoring the next cohort of passionate, young storytellers. When not reading long reads, you can often find Tessa watching docuseries or eating avocados.
Donnaldo Escobedo | @donnieescobedo
Donnaldo Escobedo is a student at Rollins College, a small private school in Orlando, Florida. Donnie was born on Valentine’s day in a small town in Zacatecas, Mexico. He then further pursued his dreams in order to obtain an opportunity at a better life with his family. Now a journalist, with his newfound interest in film and photography he aspires to be a sports journalist. Donnie has done it all, from working with entertainment star Ryan Seacrest, to receiving personal honors from the President of the United States – Barack Obama.
An award winning filmmaker and actor, Donnie uses his knowledge in film to bring a fresh angle to his storytelling abilities. He has perfected his film and film editing craft, allowing him to be advanced in his field for his age. Donnie discovered his talent through film and with many hours of practice. With opportunities like the Los Angeles Times and working with other organizations and teams such as the Orlando Magic and the Orlando Sentinel, Donnie looks to further his career in what he describes “an opportunity of a lifetime.”