INSPIRE: Four former Poly Spotlight editors journey down their own paths of journalistic pursuits.
By Caroline Iglesias, Staff Writer
Since Poly High School opened its doors in 1887, it has shaped many talented individuals, preparing them to go out into the world and pursue their dreams. From this pool of gifted individuals, four came from the Poly Spotlight: David Randall, Daniel Shumski, Andrew Gastelum and Alan Yang. All four have gone on to pursue their journalistic endeavors in new and creative ways, changing the world one step at a time.
David Randall is the author of the New York Times bestseller Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep and Los Angeles Times bestseller The King and Queen of Malibu: The True Story of the Battle for Paradise. Dreamland is an engrossing novel that examines the science behind the mystical world of sleep. Randall claims that his curiosity about sleep started when he began to sleepwalk. The King and Queen of Malibu is based on a true story of Frederick and May Rindge, a couple from two different worlds, who manage to transform an untamed ranch into the movie-star-filled paradise that is Malibu, California. On top of composing novels, Randall currently works as a senior reporter at Reuters, an international news agency whose headquarters are currently in London, England. He has previously written for the New York Times and Forbes Magazine. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. “Right now I’m very happy that I have a full-time job I like at Reuters and am also able to write books on the side. It’s nice to have the balance of very tight deadlines at Reuters, where minutes matter, and the longer horizons of books, where you’re hoping you can write something that people will still read years from now,” Randall explains.
Daniel Shumsky graduated in 1995 and went to Northwestern University. From there, he worked at the Chicago Tribune and did some freelance editing. “My proudest achievements journalistically do not come down to one single thing. It’s a combination of all the work I did at the Chicago Tribune, mostly on breaking news,” Shumsky said. However, after a while, Shumsky felt he needed a bit of adventure in his life and decided to move to Argentina. “My favorite part about living in Argentina definitely had to be that it was easy to be a foreigner there,” Shumsky said. After exploring the massive South American continent for four years, Shumsky decided to move back to Chicago. Taking inspiration from such a culture-filled country, Shumsky began a blog on different foods and potential meals that could be made on a waffle skillet. Following the blog’s success, Shumsky wrote two original cookbooks: Will it Waffle? in 2014 and Will it Skillet? in 2017. “I’d say [as of] right now, the biggest thing I have my eye on is being flexible enough to pursue opportunities that arise— and being willing to fail at a few of them if necessary. The willingness to fail is important too,” Shumsky stated.
Andrew Gastelum currently lives in London as a freelance sportswriter covering the English Premier League for outlets such as the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), Rotoworld Fantasy News, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and Howler Magazine. “I always wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame and be a sportswriter, and right after graduating from Poly, I was able to do both,” Gastelum said. His road to success consisted of internships “as a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times,” and he was also able to “cover the Stanley Cup playoffs, Dodgers baseball and the X Games for a summer.” “[My job has] allowed me to travel across Europe, and I’ve been able to call Paris and Italy home as well,” Gastelum expressed, revealing why he loves his job. He plans on spending a great deal of time over the next year in Myanmar and Southeast Asia with the hopes of doing some travel writing as well. Gastelum aspires to cover the World Cup in 2018 as well as the Olympics somewhere down the line. “Being Editor of the Poly Spotlight gave me a step up on my degree in journalism and I used that experience to help me when I became Editor-in-Chief of the university newspaper,” Gastelum said. The Poly Spotlight granted Gastelum the experience and background he needed to shine in college and make it big out in the real world.
Last, but certainly not least, screenwriter and producer, Alan Yang went on to pursue his academic studies at Harvard University after attending Poly High School; he studied biology and wrote for the college’s humor magazine. Yang later went on to screenwrite the film Date and Switch in 2014, co-create and write the Netflix series Master of None and write and produce the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
These four young men are just a few prime examples of individuals who have made their dreams into reality.