From serving as one of Mt. SAC Early College Academy’s first-ever journalism students to the editor-in-chief of its paper The Academy Chronicle, rising senior Payton Zarceno is an empowered youth making an impact on her community in West Covina.
Zarceno joined her school newspaper her freshman year with hopes to inform the youth and her community through local news coverage. Her high school journalism class was just forming with only a few members, but that did not discourage her.
“Even as a high schooler, if I can let other students in my community at my school know what’s going on, I feel like I’m doing my part … especially because a lot of us have no idea what’s going on in our city,” Zarceno said. “We know what’s going on nationally because we are always hearing it, but we don’t know what’s going on in our own backyard.”
Her goal is to educate her community and make it safer by covering laws and policies that affect the community. She said she wants to ensure everyone is aware of the changes that are being made and give them the chance to voice their opinions and concerns.
Even aside from journalism, Zarceno has made sure to stay heavily involved in her surroundings. She is excited to be ASB president her senior year. She’s also been part of Interact, UNICEF club, and other community and health focused clubs.
“She is very involved in the community and our school and I think that’s a big part of her personality is just like giving back to others,” said Daniela Arreola, a friend who has been close with Zarceno since freshman year.
Zarceno’s active involvement in her school and community is part of who she is, Arreola said. Zarceno is a leader through her actions and attitude and has a love for student involvement, she added.
“Payton is a very kind person and inspiring leader. She is very motivational and always encourages everyone to do their best,” Arreola said. “One of her strengths is that she is able to connect with lots of people in meaningful ways because she is a very kind and selfless person.”
Zarceno said these values always lead her back to journalism. She’s able to create these meaningful connections through her love for interviewing for her school newspaper.
“I really love interviewing people … being able to sit down and find something in common or just listening to someone talk about what they’re passionate about is something I love experiencing,” she said.
This summer, Zarceno hopes to become a better community journalist by practicing her interviewing and learning ethics.
“I definitely want to develop my own style of writing,” Zarceno said. “I want to keep working on how I interview people and become a more adaptable person. Anything that can benefit not only me but the people around me.”