Student Leader Series: Coachella Unincorporated reporter goes to Princeton Summer Program

Johnny Flores, 17, has been a student reporter with Coachella Unincorporated for four years. A resident of Coachella, Flores cares about telling stories from his community.
Johnny Flores, 17, has been a student reporter with Coachella Unincorporated for four years. A resident of Coachella, Flores cares about telling stories from his community.

KARLA MARTINEZ/ Coachella Unincorporated

For as long as he can remember, Johnny Flores, 17, knew he wanted to be a journalist.

“Being a journalist has allowed me to find myself, as well as help bring about much needed change to my community,” Flores said. “For me it’s a way to connect and empower.”

Flores has been an active reporter for Coachella Unincorporated for four years. As a young journalist, he has constantly been looking for ways to further his training.

During his freshman year of high school, Flores found the Princeton Summer Journalism Program. The program is a competitive all-expense paid ten day intensive held on Princeton’s campus in New Jersey. It is specifically for rising senior high school students from low income families who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism.

Once Flores became a junior he applied and was chosen to attend. He is the only young person from the Eastern Coachella Valley to ever participate.

“When I finally got my email it read, ‘Congratulations Mr. Flores,’ and it had flight details and all these amazing things,” he said. “I was so happy, and I was so excited I couldn’t sleep the whole night.”

While at Princeton, Flores was given the opportunity to listen to professors and professional journalists give lectures. But the experience Flores most remembers happened outside of the classroom.

 “The most memorable moment was covering a Jets game at MetLife stadium,” he explained. “Being a huge sports fan, it was a dream come true to be able to sit in the press box and cover the game.”

Flores was able to write a feature on Princeton’s basketball coach, Mitch Henderson, during his time at the intensive. The Princeton program, according to Flores, gave him the opportunity to explore his future beyond the Coachella Valley.

“I met an array of people from across the United States who shared the same passion as I did for journalism,” Flores said. “The program allowed me to experience life on a college campus apart from my family and allowed me to learn more about myself, my future, and journalism.”

Flores was recently accepted to the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he plans to major in print and digital journalism.

“I would tell anyone to give it your all and never give up,” Flores said, as advice to potential young journalists. “You never know what will happen or what you will learn.”

To view stories Flores has produced as a student reporter, visit his author page on the Coachella Unincorporated website.

 

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