Sarah Aida Gonzalez '09

Sarah Gonzalez
  • Statement: Inspiring action through the airwaves
  • Profession: Reporter, WNYC/NJPR
  • Major: Sociology
  • Minor: Journalism
  • Graduation: Class of 2009

“Helping to create change is the greatest accomplishment of my career,” says Sarah Gonzalez. Her investigative reporting for public radio has inspired listeners to take action, and has prompted changes that affect thousands of people.

As an example, she recounts, “I reported on a little-known policy in Florida that required the state’s colleges and universities to charge higher tuition to US-born students with undocumented parents. The story helped trigger a lawsuit, and a federal judge ruled the state’s tuition policy unconstitutional.”

At Mills, Sarah majored in sociology to enhance her journalistic skills. “Sociology taught me the importance of spending time on the ground in the communities I report on,” she explains. Her professors allowed her to tailor her sociology assignments to explore her interests in reporting. She minored in journalism and took public radio reporting courses, which led to a summer fellowship with NPR member station KALW. “I spent the first four months after graduation on the streets of deep East Oakland reporting on the root causes of violence in the city and the community solutions.”

Sarah returned to her hometown of San Diego and worked as a producer and reporter at KPBS before landing NPR’s Kroc Fellowship that year. She became a statewide education reporter with WLRN in Miami and is now an enterprise reporter at WNYC in New York City, covering New Jersey.

“Growing up on the US-Mexico border in a massive, awesome, Mexican family made me want to become an immigration reporter,” she says. “But my time at Mills helped me recognize that what I really wanted to do was tell stories of inequality.”

Though she’s traveled far since Mills, Sarah says, “Oakland will forever be my favorite city. There is so much diversity and ingenuity—and the best taco trucks! But there are also clear inequalities in the city, and the professors at Mills will inspire you to address these issues and help others.”