Bellisario College student takes love of writing to the west coast

Jonathan F. McVerry
June 25, 2021

(Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of stories about Bellisario College students completing summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For Penn State journalism student Morayo Ogunbayo, chats with her parents have often centered around politics and news headlines. Those family conversations helped set the foundation for her career path.

“Journalists were really respected in my house,” she said. “I think that made me want to become one.”

Ogunbayo kept that energy through high school as captain of the debate team and writer/editor for the school news magazine. She saw an opening to continue her passion at Penn State. She earned a Bunton-Waller fellowship through the Schreyer Honors College and saw a wealth of opportunity at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications.

“Growing up in New York, Penn State is always on your radar,” she said. “I knew Penn State had a big and extremely prestigious journalism program.”

In high school, Ogunbayo moved to Atlanta. She visited the University Park campus her senior year, and that visit sealed the deal. She recalls touring the Carnegie Building and walking through campus.

“I always knew that there were great sports and good people. That made me really excited to want to go,” she said. “So, I came and toured, and I remember thinking that this is a really nice college town. I really liked it.”

This summer, Ogunbayo finds herself on the other side of the country. She is the features intern for the San Francisco Chronicle. Meetings with editors and other writers are virtual, but she covers stories and conducts interviews in person. Just a couple weeks into the internship, she had already completed five articles.

“Every day I wake up and see what I need to do. I make sure photos are in and I set up interviews,” she said. “I interview people and I beg sources for things they need to send me.”

Ogunbayo reports to the editor of Datebook, the Chronicle’s arts and entertainment section. She likes the freedom of reporting in the field and meeting and interviewing people in person. She also appreciates the weekly virtual meetings with the paper’s features team.

“It’s been cool to be able to do a lot of my own thing,” she said, “but also have close guidance to make sure I'm doing it right.”

In her first month, Ogunbayo covered Juneteenth celebrations, a film festival and a premiere of a TV series. She interviewed poets, producers and community organizers. Although it’s been surprisingly cold, she has enjoyed San Francisco and learning about the city. Writing is Ogunbayo’s favorite part of journalism and she loves seeing her byline.

“Seeing an article you wrote published in the paper has always been really cool,” she said.

“I feel supported at the Bellisario College. All of my professors want to help me and really care about my aspirations."

— Morayo Ogunbayo, journalism student

The resources, opportunities and contacts at the Bellisario College have helped Ogunbayo build her creative career. She has written for The Daily Collegian and was an editor at Valley Magazine, a student-run lifestyle magazine. She has completed other internships that, like the Chronicle, she found through the Bellisario College’s career services office. Relationships with faculty have been additionally valuable.

“I feel supported at the Bellisario College. All of my professors want to help me and really care about my aspirations,” she said. “Everyone is extremely helpful … I can’t even name all of the professors who’ve wanted to help me succeed.”

One of her mentors, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Gary Abdullah, said he expects Ogunbayo to be a “barrier breaker.”

“Morayo operates on a different level from the vast majority of the student population,” he said. “She firmly believes that she can accomplish anything.”

Ogunbayo’s inquisitiveness and determination will guide her success, according to Abdullah. She doesn’t see obstacles. She sees challenges to overcome.

“It's that attitude that sets Morayo apart from others,” he added.

This fall, Ogunbayo will intern with the Bellisario College’s Prison Journalism Project. She is a member of the student group EcoReps and is minoring in sustainability. Writing will always be a part of her life, but Ogunbayo said she could see herself working as a lobbyist for the environment or joining a sustainability think tank.

“It's probably one of the most important issues of our time, and I just like felt like I have to find a way to do something,” she said about her sustainability minor. “I've just always wanted to help push forward sustainability and do what I can do.”

A noble and challenging cause. Can she make a difference? Abdullah says the level of Ogunbayo’s greatness has yet to be determined and it’s “entirely up to her.”

Last Updated July 08, 2021