Stories by

Isabella Paoletto

By Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio

When Isabella Paoletto began college, she discovered a purpose for her writing.

Isabella, 22, feels there is little economic and ethnic diversity at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. It was hard for her as a Latina to fit in at first. After a series of racist episodes at her college, she turned to writing.

“It awoke my passion for social justice,” Isabella said. “I knew I wanted to use journalism to tell stories of underrepresented voices.”

So she began covering the diversity beat for her college newspaper, Mustang News.

Isabella does not only cover negative issues surrounding diversity on her campus. She also seeks to highlight how students are trying to make Cal Poly more inclusive.

Originally from Chula Vista, Calif., Isabella grew up about 20 minutes from Mexico’s border. Her mother’s side of the family is Mexican, and her father’s side is Mexican and Italian. She is used to relatives going back and forth to Mexico, and their experiences helped motivate her desire to report on immigration and social issues.

“Having family that navigates both sides of the border is really personal to me,” she said.

In June, she will graduate from Cal Poly with a double major in journalism and ethnic studies.

At The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, Isabella is focused on soaking up as much knowledge about reporting as she can in two weeks.

“I’m so excited to practice my writing and learn from some of the best people in the industry,” she said.

It is also Isabella’s first time in New York. She said she will relish the challenge of covering a city that is foreign to her and is enthusiastic about reporting on its hub of immigration, diversity and social justice movements.

Ivan Armando Flores/NYT Institute

Stories of rats, sexual harassment and the psychological toll of delays are growing in concert with the increasing unreliability of the city’s 115-year-old subway system.