Intern Maya Fawaz finds community in journalism, The Drag

Maya Fawaz, a former international relations and global studies major, found a sense of community as a journalism major and now as an audio intern for The Drag.

Long before coming to the University of Texas, Fawaz had career aspirations in international documentary filmmaking. As an incoming freshman, this goal led her to declare IRG as her major and make plans to pursue graduate programs for journalism in the future. However, after her first semester in the College of Liberal Arts, she knew it wasn’t the right place for her.

“I didn’t feel like I fit in,” Fawaz said. “I didn’t feel like I had my crowd in that community. Liberal Arts in general just didn’t feel like home.”

Now, as a rising senior, Fawaz is set to graduate a year ahead of her original class of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

“When I made the switch to [the Moody College of Communication], it felt like I was supposed to be there the entire time,” Fawaz said. “It just felt right for me.”

Although she’s always been interested in filmmaking, arriving at Moody introduced Fawaz to other areas of journalism — including audio. It was in the fall semester of 2019 during a mandatory office hours session with journalism professor Robert Quigley that Fawaz first heard of The Drag.

“I was really intimidated,” Fawaz said. “I’ve never been one to talk to professors and get very close to them. But [going in for office hours] took me out of my comfort zone.”

Fawaz and Quigley were joined by Haley Butler, senior producer for The Drag, during the office hours session. Fawaz recognized Butler from her guest appearance during one of Quigley’s lectures, where she showed students different audio equipment, shared audio tips and talked about the upcoming debut podcast from The Drag. 

Since Butler’s presentation, Fawaz knew she wanted to learn more about The Drag and audio journalism, but she wasn’t comfortable reaching out to new professors until that first office hours session. There, Fawaz expressed her concerns to Quigley.

“I don’t know what I’m doing with journalism,” Fawaz said. “I’m figuring it out. I’m trying to get experience.”

Quigley encouraged her to find her niche in journalism and welcomed her to gauge her interests at The Drag as a future intern. 

In May 2020, Fawaz reached out to Quigley for guidance on summer internship opportunities. She learned that Quigley created an internship program for The Drag based off of the office hours conversation they had together just a semester before. Fawaz immediately applied and got accepted for the position, along with two other students, as The Drag’s first ever audio intern.

Now, Fawaz uses The Drag as a safe environment for learning and exploring.

“Everyone is so supportive and willing to help and Zoom at any given time of the day to teach you how to do things,” Fawaz said. “It’s very sweet because I didn’t have any audio experience before this. It’s definitely the first time I’m doing a lot of things.”

The Drag offers a wide range of podcast production aspects that interns can choose from, including marketing, design, writing and audio editing. Fawaz enjoys script-writing and cutting audio. She is also working on co-planning, co-directing and co-hosting an episode on The Drag’s podcast “Request Pending,” along with the other interns. 

“The Drag has opened up a lot of different opportunities, especially in aspects of audio production that I never thought were as important as they are,” Fawaz said. “It’s been a really fun mixture of things. I didn’t expect it to be this fun, if I’m being honest.”

Kadija is a junior studying Journalism, French and IRG at UT Austin. When she’s not learning a new language or being a social advocate, she loves traveling, cooking, watching films and spending time with family and friends.

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