In a way, Katie Sawyer’s path to Maricopa took her through Asia and Europe.
Of course, her destination wasn’t Pinal County’s fastest growing city. But that’s where she has landed as a new reporter covering the community for Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. and PinalCentral.
And because many living in Maricopa came from somewhere else, she feels at home.
“The community members of Maricopa are from all over too, something that is less common in other parts of Arizona,” she told me in an email interview. “That strengthens the bond between people, as we are all from somewhere else and ended up here for one reason or another, and now share the same community.”
Katie was born in Belgium and spent the first half of her life with her family living in a variety of countries in Asia and Europe before settling in Arizona. She believes her experience growing up among different world cultures helps her be a better reporter.
“I think it gives me a unique perspective, and an ability to integrate well into many cultures and places,” she said. “The things that make us different from one another are our greatest strengths.”
Katie says she knew early on that she wanted to be a journalist, picking it as her profession of choice during a class assignment in eighth grade. She considers herself a “people person,” which she believes is a necessary quality when being a reporter.
“I revel in meeting new and interesting people, diving into other cultures and shaping people’s world views,” she said. “I think to do this, you need to know how to speak to people who may not want to speak to you, and learn to understand people you may not agree with.”
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University last year, she worked for the Times Media Group in Tempe before joining us as our Maricopa Monitor reporter last month.
Her early impressions of Maricopa are positive. She likes that it is a tight-knit community where residents are passionate about their city.
“I find it really exciting to work with a community that both cares about the news and is involved in the reporting process,” she said.
Katie enjoys adding to that sense of community through her reporting. While she will also be covering city government and school board meetings and issues, she feels human-interest stories are centric to building a tighter community, and a necessity for a local paper because it brings people together and helps them feel more connected.
“I find that people tend to be kinder when they learn the backgrounds and histories of their neighbors, business owners and friends.”
When she’s not reporting, Katie can be found hiking area desert mountain trails, especially this time of year, or at a popular concert. She also loves to travel. To date she has been to 28 countries and 16 states so far.
And Katie has been busy getting out and about in Maricopa.
“This is the smallest community I have reported in, and I’m greatly enjoying the small-town feel,” she said. “It’s reassuring to see the same faces at community events and really get to know the residents.”
You can contact reporter Katie Sawyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Howell can be contacted at email@example.com.