Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School student Caroline Figueroa at The Philadelphia Tribune, where she is an intern sponsored by Youthcast Media Group.
By Aileen Delgado
Youthcast Media Group launched a partnership this year with Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, a college preparatory school that offers a work-study program for all of its students. Students are able to work at over 95 companies throughout the greater Philadelphia area, and their pay helps to offset their school tuition.
YMG sponsored Cristo Rey students Sincere Rodriguez and Caroline Figueroa for a work-study internship at The Philadelphia Tribune. Founded in 1884, the Tribune says it is the largest circulation and longest continuously published African-American newspaper in the country.
It was a first for YMG, and the first time Cristo Rey students have worked at the newspaper — or in journalism!
Caroline has made great strides as a social media intern for the publication. Her work has been widely recognized by Tribune staff.
“She's spectacular,” said Sharyn Flanagan, the Tribune’s city editor. On her first day, Caroline produced more than a dozen social media posts, Flanagan said. “So I was very impressed … She might seriously have a job here.”
Caroline also collaborates with YMG staff to promote stories written by our students with a Philadelphia angle.
“Social media is something I do in my free time,” said Caroline. “They came to me saying ‘this is perfect for you because you're good at this and you know what you're doing.’”
Some of Figueroa’s recent posts promoted a story written by YMG’s Shawna James, a sophomore at Philadelphia’s Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School. Shawna attended the 2021 Sozosei Summit Conference alongside YMG staff to report on the decriminalization of mental illness. The Sozosei Foundation is one of YMG’s funders.
At the conference, Shawna interviewed Lorenzo Lewis, founder of The Confess Project, an organization that trains barbers across the country to aid clients through mental health guidance and resources. She followed up with an interview at a local barbershop with Confess Project-trained barber Andre Scott, and gained first-hand experience behind the camera and scored her first solo byline.
Sincere’s work-study is as a reporter and writer. They previously worked as an intern with the University of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Writing Project, but journalism is new to them. Earlier this month, Sincere paid a visit to the Philadelphia City Hall in search of interviews for an upcoming National Harriet Tubman Day story and was able to meet Philadelphia Governor Tom Wolf.
“[M]eeting the equivalent of the president of Pennsylvania was really exciting,” said Sincere. “All in all, a phenomenal experience.”
Sincere is working alongside YMG Founder and CEO Jayne O’Donnell to write a profile on George James, a local psychologist and marriage and family therapist. The story will focus on mental health challenges for Philadelphia LGBTQ+ teens and teens of color during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking ahead, Sincere plans to study psychology at Immaculata University this upcoming fall. Caroline, although open to a future in journalism, wants to pursue a degree in forensic sciences.