In my few months AccessLocal, I feel like I have gained so much more than at any other program I’ve ever been involved with. I’ve gained the courage to go up to random people and ask them questions about their opinions,  created videos that were shown on television, gone to conferences where I’ve met other young journalists of color, and been encouraged to investigate the things I’m curious about.

Growing up with anxiety, I’ve often struggled to communicate with others. Expressing how I felt verbally has always been hard for me,  I used to not even be able to order food for myself when I went out to eat. in high-school come out of my shell little bit but still had trouble talking to people I wasn’t comfortable around. when I first heard about access, I thought no way I can’t do that! but I was still curious and applied anyways which was an out of character move for me to make.

I knew there was going to be an interview which I was terrified for, and that there were probably tons of well-qualified applicants who had better social skills than I who wrote and spoke better.  I didn’t even think I can make it in, and I would mess up on my first assignment and be fired, all of these thoughts scared me immensely, and yet I was still praying that I would get the job.

When I started I was lucky to also be starting with a few of my friends, and so we’re able to help each other along the way.  what’s in about a month I had already produced content I was proud of that I shared with people, which was another out of character thing that Accesslocal made me do.  I was told that my interviewing skills were great, my cinematic vision was impressive and that my editing style was easily consumable, which was good. In fact, it was even through Accesslocal that I gain the confidence to decide that my passion for filmmaking was worth pursuing.

My team had the opportunity to go to the California Youth Media Conference in Oakland for the weekend back in February. Although I have been to many conferences before this one might have been the most life-changing for me. There I was around people who shared the same kind of love and passion for journalism and media. Many of them were also teens of color and queer, which is my exact demographic. It was such an amazing environment and reminded me was not alone. There I learned so many valuable lessons from experienced journalists who told us of their journeys and experiences, telling us they had started out just like we did. They let us know that we are the voices of the new generation.

Being a busy High School student I think I would not have been able to do as much as I planned to if I had been hired at my local grocery store,  while Access gave me the flexibility to do what I wanted as long as I could report about it. I am so grateful for the strong friendships I have formed with my team and my boss, and for the experience, I have gained. It has been a great ride with Access, this is Star Porras, signing off.