Stories by

Kate Sequeira

By Amber D. Dodd

An elective journalism class at San Dieguito High School Academy piqued Kate Sequeira’s interest in storytelling.

Her hunger for more has bloomed ever since.

She was asked to cover an appearance by the author Matt de la Peña, the 2016 John Newbery Medal Award winner, discussing his book “Last Stop on Market Street.” The seemingly everyday assignment became an epiphany for Kate.

“Being able to see the person behind the book was a really good feeling,” Kate said. “Being able to write that was really cool.”

She said she knew from that moment that journalism was the career choice for her. Kate, now 20, is a rising junior studying journalism at the University of Southern California.

She has served as The Daily Trojan’s associate managing editor and news editor and covered scandals, housing issues and gentrification. The job sharpened her journalism ethics and breaking news skills, she said.

“It was a lot of scandals,” Kate said, citing the sexual assault cases against Dr. George Tyndall, a former U.S.C. gynecologist, as the biggest scandal. “You literally drop everything to do news. Sometimes I’d be in the back of class not listening, writing and contacting media relations or long lists of lawyers.”

This led her to participate in the 2019 New York Times Student Journalism Institute. She hopes the hands-on experience takes her writing and approach to stories to the next level.

Kate also wants to spice up her vocabulary during her visit. She considered the breaking news beat as structured, standard reporting and demanding little colorful writing while providing hard news.

“I do like breaking news but it’s very formulaic,” Kate said. “For community reporting, you’re going and talking to people. You’re figuring out communities’ issues and you’re learning from that. I want to understand the perspective of the community without implementing my own biases.”

At the institute, she is covering community opposition to local jails. And she always pulls inspiration and background from the issues people face at her university.

Photo by Jason J. Armond/NYT Institute

If a plan to replace Rikers Island jail with four borough jails is approved by the Mayor’s Office, Rikers will close in 2026. But community boards are rejecting the plan.