Looking beyond the University
Fourth-year College student betters her community through Charlottesville Tomorrow internship
Fourth-year College student Maggie Ambrose has taken her love for Charlottesville to the next level with her internship at Charlottesville Tomorrow, a news platform focusing on coverage of local stories.
The non-profit news organization was founded in 2005 by Executive Director Brian Wheeler and partners with other local news publications to publish its work. The internship program has been in place since the organization’s beginning, but it has changed throughout the years to become the position Ambrose occupies today — a task Ambrose describes as a “junior news reporter.”
The internship requires about 15 to 20 hours of work per week, but Ambrose, who has been working in the position since August, says the time commitment is well worth it. With tasks varying from research to interviews, her work aims to make others familiar with Charlottesville and distill information to the public in an easily digestible manner.
“I go to a lot of meetings,” Ambrose said. “It’s complicated, [but] I go to meetings and cover the decisions being made by city council members, board of supervisor members, planning commision members — so often what I’m doing is research on the back story of what’s in front of them on the agenda.”
In these hours spent in meetings and working for Charlottesville Tomorrow, Ambrose has cultivated an appreciation of Charlottesville beyond what the typical University student feels.
“Charlottesville is definitely a very special place where the community wants to be engaged with what’s going on and they want to see their home become a place that they want to stay in, they want to live in,” Ambrose said. “It’s been a great experience and I definitely can see myself coming back to Charlottesville, after trying something new, because I see it as such a great place to live.”
Wheeler said Ambrose’s work is part of a mutually beneficial partnership with the news organization.
“I see in Maggie a huge amount of knowledge about both the issues and how government works [in Charlottesville],” Wheeler said. “Just like all of our interns, [her] writing [has improved] dramatically during [her] time here. [In addition,] the staff is exposed to life and vitality on the Downtown Mall and I think that’s an eye-opening experience, to be in a special place and combine that with work you’re enjoying as work in the community.”
Ambrose has come to embody the organization’s message of “informed citizens create a better community.”
“You know the Flats at West Village? At U.Va., we see those Flats and we’re like, ‘Oh, [a] new place for people to live, I wonder who’s going to live there?’” Ambrose said. “But there was a huge, long conversation that went on in the community about whether that building was allowed to be built.”
This understanding is exactly what Wheeler and Charlottesville Tomorrow hope continues to grow.
“I think students that learn about the community they’re living in gain knowledge and skills that will help them when they move to their next community,” Wheeler said. “I just like that idea that U.Va. students will be inquisitive about their community, now and in the future.”
Moving forward, Charlottesville Tomorrow intends to become more accessible to the community through a mobile site. The outlet looks to their interns for assistance with many of these innovations.