Isabela Gamez named 2023 Don Bolles Fellow

Jan. 18, 2023

School of Journalism student Isabela Gamez was named the 2023 recipient of the Don Bolles Fellowship. She started reporting on the Arizona legislature with the Arizona Mirror in early January.

The Arizona Mirror is an independent, nonprofit news organization that covers public policy for Arizona residents. Their mission is to educate residents on policy that will likely affect their daily lives.

Gamez is a Tucson local who came to the University of Arizona School of Journalism through the High School Journalism Diversity Workshop. “I remember writing this story about abortion laws, which is still relevant today,” Gamez said. “We made a newspaper, and it ended up being on the front page of the paper.”

Gamez was hooked on journalism after her first A1 story was published. She applied to UArizona and started her journalism career. On campus she interned for the Digital Futures Bilingual Studio, a bilingual multimedia production studio. She said the studio spurred her interest in broadcast journalism and she hopes her experience as a Bolles Fellow will lay the groundwork for a strong career in broadcast. Gamez will end her academic career majoring in journalism and double minoring in Spanish and Mexican American studies.

Gamez wants to pursue social justice beat reporting. She said she was front and center for the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

“I'm really excited about doing this fellowship because I'll get to see how the laws that are being put into place are affecting your average citizen,” Gamez said.

The Don Bolles Fellowship will provide Gamez with a housing and expenses’ stipend for the Spring 2023 semester while covering the Arizona Legislature in Phoenix. The fellowship was named after Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic investigative reporter killed by a car bomb in 1976 and is funded by the Armin and Esther Hirsch Foundation.

Previous Bolles Fellow Gloria Gomez said her experience at the Arizona Mirror was invaluable to her as a beginning reporter. “My J-school teachers always told me not to be a stenographer, but I don't think I really understood that until I began working with the Arizona Mirror,” Gomez said.

Gomez continues to report for the Arizona Mirror post-fellowship. Read her new work HERE. Gomez and Gamez worked on their first story together at the Mirror last week. Read their story HERE.

When asked what advice Gomez would impart to Gamez, she said:

“I would advise Isabela not to be afraid to take on subjects that are outside of her comfort zone. In political reporting, it helps to keep track of and understand several different topics because legislators make decisions about many different areas of Arizonan's lives. Never lose sight of the everyday people new laws could potentially hurt or help; it's exciting to share the drama that happens in committees and debates, but also remember to include the voices of the real people who are affected.”

Gamez wrote in a text message last week that the fellowship is going well, and she was reporting on multiple stories for the Mirror.

“We think Gamez will continue the legacy of great reporting this fellowship has supported since 1977. We look forward to watching her grow as public affairs reporter covering one of the most important beats in the state of Arizona,” Director of Undergraduate Studies Pate McMichael said.