By Cassandra Porter
A born entertainer with a healthy curiosity, it was clear early on that journalism was the right field for Ashiah Scharaga. This summa- cum- laude" honors student with a 4.33 GPA constantly draws from her colorful experience at Chico State.
A year out of graduation (News, 2015), Scharaga has brought her talents to Chico Enterprise-Record as a city beat reporter.
During her time at Chico State, Scharaga was actively involved in the school and community. She was on The Orion for three years, during which time she was a staff writer, moved up to arts and entertainment editor and then eventually became managing editor.
“I loved being an arts writer because I’m a performer,” she said.
When she wasn’t writing and reporting, Scharaga sang in the university chorus, was in an a capella choir, and also hosted her own show on KCSC radio.
“I had a show called ‘The Bird’s Nest,” she said. “I was DJ Songbird. I played indie music, indie pop, and rock and folk music.”
Today, she continues to feed her passion for performing as a producer at Chico Theater Company. It has always been important to Scharaga to find a balance between working and producing.
After graduation, Scharaga completed a summer internship at The Sacramento Bee. She happened to be offered the position at Chico ER a week before she completed the internship. After finishing up her time at The Bee, she moved to work at Chico ER.
“I know for a fact that my experience at The Sacramento Bee and my experience at The Orion is what got me my job, ” she said. “Being at a spot where I can say, ‘Wow, all of those opportunities I made sure I took advantage of are paying off for me today,’...that’s incredible!”
Scharaga remembers her time at The Orion fondly, and she even returned this semester to guest critique. She keeps a picture of herself and her editorial board at The Orion on her desk at Chico ER.
“I think it’s important to remind yourself where you started,” Scharaga said. Much of the work she did in college relates to her daily roles in her current reporting position. She covers the city council meetings, is constantly checking email and pitches stories to her editors every day.
The paper has fewer than 10 writers, and together they cover news for the entire city of Chico and surrounding area. Scharaga is positioned as a city reporter but also acts as a general assignment reporter.
At Chico ER she has been fortunate enough to pitch and formulate her own multi-part series about painkiller and heroin abuse in Butte County.
“That was like my brain child,” she said. “I was encouraged to do it here, and I think that’s incredibly valuable—being part of a smaller newspaper.”
For the series, Scharaga worked for seven months collecting data and conducting interviews with recovering addicts, people in the medical field, and substance abuse counselors. She feels fortunate to have found a position where she can impact the lives of the people in her community through doing what she loves.
“I get so much fulfillment knowing that I am writing stories that matter to my community here,” she said. “I don’t need to be at a paper in Chicago or San Francisco to feel that way, to feel happy with the job that I have.”
It’s safe to say that Scharaga has done great job transitioning out of the Department of Journalism & Public Relations, but she is not done in Chico just yet.