Whether it’s exploring caves, reporting on-location or simply meeting someone new, 17-year-old Jullea “Jewels” Powell is constantly seeking out thrills. As an only child based in a rural community south of San Jose, Calif., Powell prides herself as an exception to the typical judgements of those without siblings.
“People sometimes say that if you’re an only child, you wouldn’t be social. For me, I feel like because I am [an only child], I would be more likely to put myself out there, because I don’t know anyone,” Powell said.
Time and time again, Powell has proved this statement correct. It’s how she discovered High School Insider in the first place. Motivated by a lack of compelling clubs at her high school and a desire for tangible accomplishments, Powell found herself on the hunt for opportunities in journalism. She recalls cold-emailing “literally anyone” she could find — including executive editor of the Los Angeles Times, Kevin Merida.
Powell hadn’t expected a response, but Merida emailed back. He thanked her for reaching out, and directed her to High School Insider. This exchange is credited as the reason she ended up working as an HSI Intern more than a year later.
As a part of HSI’s Student Advisory Board, Powell had the opportunity to expand her reporting skills as an HSI red carpet reporter for Walt Disney Studios’ and Marvel’s “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.” She recalls fulfilling a childhood dream by interviewing Nickelodeon’s “Drake & Josh” star Yvette Nicole Brown on the carpet. She said she’s particularly fond of the subsequent premiere coverage piece she wrote with fellow HSI contributor Lauren Lee.
Powell writes outside of High School Insider as well, namely as an intern for the DONUT Daily News. She writes weekly pop culture pieces and manages their customer service presence, among other duties.
When looking to write more creatively, Powell works on her blog, Fashion Forecast. She has recruited a group of writers to keep up with content on the site since its inaugural post last summer. She appreciates the freedom from rigid deadlines and relaxed work environment cultivated by the team of more than 30 contributors she oversees as editor-in-chief.
If she’s not writing, Powell can be found exploring nature by foot. She enjoys vacations complete with long runs through waterfalls or caves.
“I have a bucket list of places I want to run,” Powell said. “[Running] is the most fulfilling feeling ever.”
But Powell’s latest thrill? Working as an HSI Intern. She particularly looks forward to experimenting with multimedia under the guidance of L.A. Times journalists and the HSI team.
Powell’s ambition and penchant for writing took her to the Harvard Crimson’s Summer Journalism Academy last year, where she met fellow journalist Lizzie Swanson. The pair now live more than 3,000 miles apart from one another, but have kept in touch via text and package exchanges. Swanson said she most admires Powell’s work ethic.
“[Jullea] pushes you to want to be more successful,” Swanson said.
In college, Powell plans to write for her school paper. While she doesn’t plan to pursue journalism as a career (she sets her sights on becoming a corporate attorney), she said she’s thankful to have honed her writing skills as a student journalist.
Her friend Swanson praises her for being approachable and eager to meet new people, both skills that have cemented a special place in her heart for journalism.
After all, the tasks of a journalist — connecting with new people, asking thoughtful questions and maybe even walking the red carpet — are a thrill-seeker’s paradise.