Q&A with El Vaquero’s new leaders


Mannat Bawa, junior – El Vaquero’s 2022-2023 Editor-in-Chief: 

El Vaquero: Do you see journalism being a potential career path for you?

Bawa: While I don’t see myself directly involved in journalism, I believe that the skills I develop in journalism will be critical to any career path I choose. The leadership, teamwork and interpersonal skills I’ve acquired from journalism have already helped me throughout all my classes in high school and I’m sure they will serve to my benefit in the future.

El Vaquero: How did this year go for you? Did it feel overwhelming at first?

Bawa: Working as a leader this year was super enjoyable for me. I got the opportunity to take control of what the news section wrote and directed what went up on social media. It wasn’t too overwhelming since I got a lot of support from Mr. Fatino and the other editors. I think the transition from a writer to an editor was a pretty smooth process and I ended up really enjoying my role.

El Vaquero: Aside from El Vaquero, what other things are you involved in, and how did you balance your work in El Vaquero with other extracurriculars?

Bawa: I am also involved in Associated Student Body (ASB) as the Commissioner of Human Relations and Model United Nations as the president. Balancing the academic load was challenging at first, but I really kept El Vaquero as an escape from my school day. When you have an activity that you’re so passionate about and genuinely enjoy, it doesn’t feel like schoolwork. I used El Vaquero as a hobby and a way to keep me motivated to keep working. My involvement in other clubs on campus served as an asset to El Vaquero too. Knowing what’s happening on campus can really help our team come up with story ideas.

El Vaquero: What awards did you receive from the journalism competitions you entered?

Bawa: I placed fifth at the Orange County Journalism Education Association and sixth at the Southern California Journalistic Education Association Write-Off competitions. The competitions simulated press conferences where I had a limited amount of time to ask questions, incorporate quotes and put together a full news story. I really enjoy these competitions since you get to meet students from other schools and exchange ideas.

Angela Rebolledo, junior – El Vaquero’s 2022-2023 Executive and Photo Editor:

El Vaquero: Why did you initially join journalism?

Rebolledo: I joined because I wanted more writing experience. I was going to take AP English Language and Composition and I didn’t really have much confidence in my writing, so I just wanted more practice and I knew journalism was an exciting class. From writing practically every day and having my editor give me tips, I definitely improved from that. I learned a lot.

El Vaquero: Overall, how did this year go?

Rebolledo: It went well—it was very chill and not that stressful. In journalism, it was a very safe and welcoming environment for me. Being a member of the photography team was really fun because I got to go to a lot of sporting events, performing arts or just school events on campus. I could go behind the scenes and take photos—you kind of get a glimpse of on-campus life more.

El Vaquero: As photo editor next year, what will your responsibilities be next year?

Rebolledo: The photo editor assigns people their photos, like what photos you need to take for what stories. They give us a calendar of when we should have photos taken, they give us contact information and just help out with getting the appropriate photos for each story.

El Vaquero: Besides El Vaquero, how else are you involved on campus?

Rebolledo: I’m involved in cross country and track, and I have been doing these sports since freshman year. I’m also involved in some clubs on campus; I’ve been in Youth Action Team (YAT) and CHOC club.

Meghaa Saravanan, junior – El Vaquero’s 2022-2023 Managing Editor:

El Vaquero: Why did you initially take interest in journalism?

Saravanan: I first joined because I wanted to improve my writing skills. But, once I joined, I realized that not only was I able to improve my writing skills but I think we really built a family and community. I’ve learned a lot in many aspects.

El Vaquero: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from working on staff?

Saravanan: The biggest lesson is teamwork. An important thing about journalism is that not everything revolves around you. Your work impacts others—benefits others or hurts others. It’s about holding yourself accountable so you can help your team and not let anyone down.

El Vaquero: As a member of the social media team, what happened behind the scenes on Instagram?

Saravanan: Throughout the week, we’d set the theme that we’d want the post at the end of the week to encapsulate. We’d put the photos together, write captions and just take you through a “week of being a Vaq.” Compared to the beginning of the year, our social media definitely gained us a lot of traction. Next year, we’re looking to expand it and create a more definite social media team. We hope to create and post more posts, stories reels—things like that.

El Vaquero: As managing editor next year, what will your responsibilities look like?

Saravanan: Basically, I’m keeping everyone on track and just making sure everything in El Vaquero runs smoothly behind the scenes. I definitely enjoyed being a writer this year, and a lot of the seniors, editors and my peers have taught me so much. I think next year, I just want to do the same for incoming writers.

El Vaquero: Do you have a favorite memory?

Saravanan: Starting two years ago, everything was online and I didn’t really know anyone on staff that much. It was a scary thing to come into, but once everyone was selected, we had a bonding at the beginning of the year. We had water balloon fights, snacks and we played music. I think that set a precedent for the rest of the year. I knew I was going to be surrounded by fun, hardworking people.

Alexis Tran, sophomore – El Vaquero’s 2022-2023 Page Editor:

El Vaquero: As the youngest member on staff, were you intimidated at first?

Tran: I wouldn’t say I felt intimidated because there wasn’t too many people on staff this year, and because everyone was really nice and welcoming.

El Vaquero: Overall, how did this year go for you?

Tran: Overall this school year has been okay for me. Certain parts of journalism—like figuring out how to write different types of stories—were challenging for me. But overall, journalism was very fun and it helped me improve my writing. I’d recommend that anyone who is even vaguely interested in journalism sign up for Beginning Journalism.

El Vaquero: How have you improved as a journalist?

Tran: I have improved my writing and interview skills. Last year, when I interviewed some of my teachers, I was very nervous and probably asked them boring questions. This year, I felt more comfortable in interviews and tried to make my questions more interesting or specific to the teacher or person I was interviewing.

El Vaquero: As a member of the Students for Racial Equality club, how do you work to spread awareness?

Tran: I helped spread awareness by helping to make and present slideshows that talked about different issues and how they affect black, indigenous and people of color. We also made sure to include action items at the end of our slideshows. These actions items are things such as petitions club members can sign or charities they can donate to.

El Vaquero: As one of the future page editors, what will your responsibilities be?

Tran: I will be working with the other page editors and working with my writers. Every day in class, I will be supervising my writers with their stories—writers that are writing for my page—and I’ll be looking over their stories, editing them and making sure that their angle is what we both want it to be. We’re all working together to make sure that our pages are cohesive.