During our final weeks of year 7, my teacher had asked us to write what we would like to be in the future. I wrote, “I want to be a magazine editor when I grow up so I think this is the beginning of something special.” This was the year I was introduced to journalism.
After my A-levels, I went off to study English Literature at QMUL. Feeling disappointed in the lack of diversity in the course, I decided to transfer to SOAS University of London where I was able to study African Literature. During my degree, I moved to Hargeisa, Somaliland for 6 months and learnt more about newsrooms, radio production and archival processing. I also worked as an Editorial Intern at Cassava Republic Publishing House. My first introduction into a busy newsroom in London was as an intern on The Guardian’s Positive Action Scheme. After graduating, like most working class students, I was not able to afford a Masters in Journalism and so I spent the last year freelancing, returning to The Guardian for more experience on the books desk, completing a coding programme with CF:G x Deloitte and working in my local bookshop.
As a young girl filled with ambition, it was rare for me to see anyone who looked like me in positions I wanted to be in. So, I’d imagine myself as the editor in chief of the magazines and newspapers I flicked through at my local library. I’d imagine I was Lizo Mzimba, presenting Newsround, that I was Clive Myrie reporting daily news. Slowly, global media companies have awakened to the necessity of elevating fresh new voices. I am excited to bring the perspectives of unheard Gen Z voices that are often ignored, and share Muslim experiences. I hope to be a representative for young people like me where I can one day give back as much as I learn.
Since I moved to Britain at the age of eight, I have been very aware of how few immigrant voices there are in the media. Shortly after the Brexit referendum, I left my hometown of Carlisle for London where I began studying at UCL. There, I immediately joined the student newspaper, The Cheese Grater. Initially, I didn’t have serious journalistic aspirations, however I quickly found that I had a voice as a reporter. Writing articles, whether about the monitoring of overseas students or about student union politics, allowed me to regain a sense of agency, which I, along with other second-generation immigrants, lost following the referendum.
After a year as The Cheese Grater’s investigations editor, I moved to Oslo as an exchange student. In Norway, I contributed and translated articles for a local student paper, Universitas. I also decided to try my hand as a freelancer, perhaps unsurprisingly turning my focus towards Brexit and Britain’s Polish diaspora. My articles on the topic have been published in New Statesman and Prospect.
I am in equal measure a working-class Northerner and a Polish immigrant – this identity informs my perspective and my writing. Due to my experience of Brexit and austerity, I am particularly interested in the way that national events affect social and political peripheries. I believe that this perspective will become more pertinent in the aftermath of the pandemic, which will aggravate social (as well as global) inequality and poverty.
Much of my self-confidence originates in my successes as a writer. My first journalistic placement was at the rock magazine Kerrang! when I was 17. I was chuffed to be walking down the corridors that some of my favourite musicians had once graced. Whilst studying at Oxford University, I got stuck into all kinds of student media and became music editor of the Oxford Student. I was awarded the Murdoch Scholarship, which led to an internship at the Times Literary Supplement.
Since graduating, I have published stories for a range of publications Having enjoyed working on The Telegraph business desk, I’d love to cover the intersection between technology and finance, while pursuing my dream of elevating the voices of the East Asian community. I’m currently assembling an online archive of stories from former refugees and fieldworkers with whom I have connected through my articles. Alongside freelancing, I worked for a fintech startup, which encouraged me to experiment with video editing and data visualisation.
Coming from a family of refugees who didn’t have access to the privilege of independent news, I’m acutely aware of the value of charities like the Guardian Foundation, who are fighting to advance journalism access and news literacy for everyone. I hope to turn my personal obstacles into something positive and help others like me cherish their own voices in ways I would have appreciated whilst growing up.