Meet Bridge Michigan’s interns for summer 2021
Five talented young journalists from four universities join Bridge Michigan this summer as journalism interns.
Three of the interns make up the inaugural class of a Bridge initiative offering journalism opportunities to groups that are underrepresented in newsrooms across the country. Two interns come to Bridge through university programs.
The interns join a staff of 11 full-time journalists at the award-winning, nonprofit, nonpartisan news publication.
Makayla Coffee will be a senior this fall at Central Michigan University, where she majors in journalism and is a reporter at the student newspaper Central Michigan Life.
"I have always been drawn to journalism ever since my sophomore year in high school when I joined the school's newspaper,” said Coffee, who grew up in Wyandotte. “I have always had a love for writing and a curiosity to learn more about everything, and journalism allows me to put these two things together.”
She chose CMU for its journalism program. At CM Life, Coffee has covered a variety of beats including police, city news and student news.
“I am constantly reading stories from Bridge Michigan, and I am always finding different ways of reporting or writing that I want to learn more about,” Coffee said.
Sophia Kalakailo will be a junior this fall at Michigan State University, where she works at The State News student newspaper.
She is from Farmington, and previously worked at the Eastern Echo student newspaper at Eastern Michigan University before transferring to MSU for its journalism program.
“After working in two different college newsrooms, this is my very first internship,” Kalakailo said. “I want to engage with new communities around Michigan by telling their stories. I also hope that I can tell stories about underrepresented communities.”
Kalakailo is co-president and co-founder of Escucha La Comunidad which works to tell the stories about the Latinx community at MSU.
“There are so many communities that lack newsrooms and the journalism that is essential to them whether it’s big investigations, issues in local government or other issues otherwise important to their community,” she said. “I have a lot of goals in journalism but one of them is starting a newsroom in a community without one.”
Asha Lewis will be a senior this fall at the University of Michigan majoring in sociology. She is co-managing editor of audience development at the Michigan Daily student newspaper.
“I can't wait to learn how Bridge connects with its audiences and invigorates its readership through analytics and social media,” Lewis said. “Audience development evolves so rapidly in an already dynamic field, the only way to really study it is through experience, so I am looking forward to learning a lot this summer!”
Lewis is from East Grand Rapids, and comes from a journalism family – her father is former director of journalism at the University of Michigan-Flint.
“What draws me to journalism is sharing peoples' stories,” Lewis said
Arjun Thakkar will be a senior this fall at the University of Michigan, majoring in history. He works as a reporter at the Michigan Daily covering university administration.
“I am passionate about journalism because the field’s essential purpose is to promote transparency and ensure the news is accessible to the public,” Thakkar said. “I have great respect for journalists who provide first-hand accounts of voices within a community and hold institutions accountable to their actions.”
Thakkar joins Bridge through a journalism internship scholarship program in the University of Michigan English Department.
Thakkar is fluent in Spanish and produced a documentary in Ecuador. He is from the Chicago suburbs.
“I’m looking forward to strengthening my storytelling skills with Bridge this summer,” he said. “I am planning on diving into reporting on the Michigan Legislature and state government while also gaining experience in writing about environmental concerns in the state.”
Olivia Tucker will be a sophomore this fall at Yale University, after taking a gap year during the 2020-21 school year. Tucker grew up in San Francisco and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She is majoring in English and political science.
“I'm so thrilled to be joining the Bridge team this summer and feel incredibly lucky that I get to learn from such talented reporters and editors,” Tucker said. “My dad grew up in Michigan (go Blue!) and I'm really excited about getting to know his home state.”
Tucker has covered gender equity and diversity for the Yale Daily News and is currently an associate editor at the Yale Daily News Magazine. She previously had internships at the Alexandria (Va.) Times and San Francisco Weekly, and has had bylines in Teen Vogue. She joins Bridge through an academic-credit arrangement in Yale’s journalism program.
“I hope to tell human stories about how Michigan's policy impacts its people and vice versa,” Tucker said. “I'm also especially hoping to hone my data reporting and breaking news skills.”
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