Beyond the Byline: Reporting intern Maria Gardner
Maria Gardner is a graduate student intern covering the Illinois Statehouse for the Daily Herald as part of the University of Illinois Public Affairs Reporting program.
Gardner, who graduated from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2007 with a major in sociology, had only dabbled in journalism as an undergrad. It would be another 10 years before she gave a career in journalism serious consideration.
After completing several writing and broadcasting courses in San Antonio, Texas, she gained further journalism experience at the Laredo Morning Times.
Bilingual in Spanish, Gardner now feels humbled by the chance to interview and engage with a wide range of people as a journalist.
In Texas, she wrote about national issues at the local level covering asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, international trade and immigrant rights protests. Soon after, she began reporting about growing communities in central Texas, including the expansion of new commercial and housing developments and efforts to preserve traditions and culture in booming towns.
Gardner later worked for a TV station near the Blue Range Mountains in Virginia, where she covered breaking news for the station's news website.
Born and raised in the flat lands of Chicago, she was mesmerized by the mountainous views every day on her drive to work.
As a PAR intern pursuing her graduate degree, Gardner reports on the workings of Illinois state government with an eye on the legislators representing the West and Northwest suburbs.
She believes people must be active in following government in a democracy and hopes her reporting helps increase understanding of how policies are developed and how they affect our daily lives.
When not interviewing, writing or taking feedback from the staff of the Daily Herald, Gardner especially likes to explore the historical sites tied to Abraham Lincoln in Springfield.