Chapman University Marketing and Journalism Major Erika Taylor has earned distinction for her work in journalism, being named Voice of OC’s second Tracy A. Wood Fellow. 

The Tracy A. Wood Fellowship was founded by the friends and family of the legendary journalist and Voice of OC Civic Editor to honor Wood’s journalistic legacy by promoting women in journalism.

“Being named a Tracy A. Wood Fellow is an honor.  I hope to embody Wood’s fierce, but fair, accurate, and enterprising attitude,” said Taylor. 

Taylor first encountered Voice of OC in Julie Leopo’s Photojournalism class at Chapman University.

“Julie encouraged us to pitch stories. I’d never done anything like that before. I pitched her on the Costa Mesa Speedway. That was my first story and I was hooked.” recalls Taylor.

“Erika has earned the distinction of being named a Tracy A. Wood fellow for tackling journalism in the same manner Tracy did, with courage, grace, energy and dedication,”

Voice of OC Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Norberto Santana, Jr. 

“She has really grown, story by story, demonstrating what students can accomplish with a great work ethic. And her work has already made a real difference across Orange County.”

Over the course of the last two years Taylor has published numerous photo essay packages on everything from Culture stories such as Orange County Remembers Dia de los Muertos and Celebrating Freedom on Juneteenth and Turning The Page on Low Literacy Rates in Orange County to providing visuals on news stories such as What the Election Means for Orange County’s First Time Homebuyers and Renters and Huntington Beach Creates Panel To Decide What Books Go Into City Library.

“Erika is exceptional, a natural leader and team-builder,” said Chapman University Journalism Director Susan Paterno. 

“Her passion for journalism is clear in her work as a photographer, reporter, and writer. She’s always eager to learn and never shies away from challenges. 

“I rarely see students as dedicated as Erika, and her impressive track record of published work is a testament to her commitment. Her sharp critical thinking and use of every opportunity offered by our partnership with Voice, both on and off campus, have led to remarkable successes.”

Some of the stories Taylor is most proud of are those where she is able to share stories from the communities around Orange County that often get overlooked. 

A recent example was her story for Indigenous People’s Day, Putuidem Village Unearths OC Indigenous History.

“I put a lot of research into that story. I got to learn about indigenous communities here in Orange County and the challenges they face. I believe highlighting cultural stories can also create impact at the local level.” 

“Erika’s tireless work ethic and curiosity is what gains her access to the communities she reports on and photographs,” said Julie Leopo, Voice of OC Director of Photography. “Nothing about her work has been given to her. It’s been earned.”

For more information about the Tracy A Wood Fellowship or to donate click here

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