Meeting sources like Mikel Kowalcyk, Johnny Bousquet, and Armando Tellez is the reason I became a journalist in the first place. By speaking with them, I’m reminded that their stories are what should matter most to me—not views, clicks, retweets or office politics. Instead, my time at Next Generation Radio brought me back to my original intentions as a journalist—to tell the stories of people with perspectives and experiences different from mine.

The program taught me to appreciate non-narrated audio as a selfless method of storytelling. The source tells the entire story without interjection or paraphrasing from the reporter or other narrator. That forced me to think differently while gathering my audio. That was a new skill for me. I learned to listen to my source differently, not just listen to what they have to say, but how they say it. Paying attention to their audio meant paying extra attention to my surroundings. I wasn’t just walking down a busy street, I was walking next to people humming, sirens wailing, music playing, buses stopping. Noticing those things heightened my attention to detail, a skill I can use throughout all of my reporting, whatever the medium.

Lastly, working in a newsroom made up predominantly of women of color was just the inspiration I needed. I was surrounded by journalists who have been in my shoes and who are eager to lift each other up. I feel refreshed and excited for everything to come after this program.