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Meet WBUR's 2022 RJI Student Innovation Fellow, Izabelle Cool

As part of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Student Innovation Fellowships program, Izabelle Cool will join WBUR as a fellow in summer 2022. She will work in product development, helping WBUR connect with our audiences.

Tell us a little about yourself. 

(Photo/Izabelle Cool)
(Photo/Izabelle Cool)

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and about ten years ago, my mom and I moved just North of Atlanta, Georgia. I enjoy studying astronomy, traveling the world, analyzing sports, writing for the Mizzou wrestling and tennis teams, and helping those less fortunate than myself. I grew up at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in Kansas City, where we provided food, clothing, showers, and other necessities to the homeless in the area. If I had not majored in journalism, I would have chosen Astrophysics. Another fun fact about myself is that I have traveled to 11 different countries and 27 states.

What does it mean to you to be part of a mission-driven, public media organization?

Being a part of a mission-driven, public media organization means helping get the real stories of the community out and making sure the voices of underrepresented citizens are heard. It also means that I get to be a part of a bigger mission where journalism evolves and becomes more integrated with the community as we enter a media-dominated world.

Tell us about a couple of projects you’re most proud of.

A project I am proud of is a website that I created with a group for class on a local balloon artist in Columbia, Mo. I enjoyed being able to go into the community and work with someone who needed our help to bring their vision to life. I was able to play around with the Wix site and learn more about what it takes to run and design an accessible online platform.

Another “project” that I am proud of is Give a Kid A Break, a service club that I helped start and run when I was a sophomore and led it throughout my high school career. I am passionate about helping those around me, especially since I know what it is like living on a single-parent income similar to many of these students. Leading the club was a way to give back to the community that gave me so much and let other students know that they were not alone.

I am also proud of a speech I gave at MLK50 in 2018 at the Atlanta Capitol Building. I spoke on the topic of compassion to the onlookers from the march and service. It was empowering for me to stand up and give a speech at the age of 15 in front of community elders to give them an understanding of what the world looks like to my generation. My life motto has always been “A life of service and speaking up is a life well lived,” and this was a way to help change my community for the better.

What are you looking forward to learning during this fellowship?

I have always believed that it is essential to have the ability to appreciate all aspects of the journalistic process. While my ultimate goal is to be a sports broadcaster, I also want to understand and appreciate those who help make the station and programs run. Being a part of this fellowship allows me to broaden my horizons on what I can do with a career in journalism. I am excited to learn more about audience engagement and how journalism is changing to reach a new generation that has lost interest in news and traditional journalism.

What's your media diet? What are you reading, watching, listening to right now?

My favorite podcast right now is Just Break Up. It is a podcast “about love, heartbreak and all the relationship advice you don’t want to hear.” I enjoy it because the hosts of the show validate people’s feelings and break down the barrier of ignoring how you feel for other people’s validation. I also get the CNN Daily 5 every morning. Besides those two primary forms of media, I watch most games live, but if I am unable to I get live updates via Twitter. For more prominent news I prefer to watch CNN or check social media if I am unable to watch the news that day.


About Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Student Innovation Fellowships program

Seven students at the Missouri School of Journalism will work at local news organizations around the country in summer 2022 as part of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Student Innovation Fellowships program.

The News Product Alliance (NPA) will provide training for the students and for the newsroom, both before the fellowships begin and throughout the summer with monthly coachings.

The fellows are required to work between 30 to 40 hours at their newsroom and must produce content based on their findings and experiences for the RJI website as a part of the Innovation in Focus web series.

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