Melissa Angell

By Royce Swayze

It involved her racing to find two particular parking spots. Armed with pens, a notebook and a camera, she couldn’t locate them anywhere. She wasn’t trying to park a vehicle because she wasn’t driving. In fact, Angell doesn’t have a driver’s license, but she did have a deadline. And it was approaching, fast.

It was last summer, and Angell was interning for the C-Ville Weekly, a newspaper in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Angell currently resides for school. She was assigned to photograph two parking spots, which had caused an uproar amongst the motorists of Charlottesville. These parking spots were notorious for blocking the view of oncoming traffic. Angell walked everywhere she needed to go, so she had never experienced this traffic issue that plagued Charlottesville. Because she was not familiar with the city’s driving scene, she had trouble finding the parking spots.

Running, sweating and dressed up in business attire, Angell finally found what she was seeking. She snapped the photo and breathed a sigh of relief, until she noticed she had photographed the wrong parking spots.

Angell, realizing her mistake, turned around only to discover there were multiple parking spots, all bearing an uncanny resemblance to one another.

Already pressed for time, Angell found a solution: she photographed all of the parking spots in the approximate location given to her by her editor and brought the photos back to the newsroom for said editor to identify.

“It was honestly the most lackluster assignment,” said Angell. But at the time, Angell said she took the story in stride and approached the topic with eagerness, which is Angell’s default attitude for every story assignment.

Originally from Manassas, Virginia, and entering her fourth year at the University of Virginia this fall, Angell, 20, quite literally stumbled into journalism. Angell had recently made an account with the Robinhood investing app when one of her friends, overjoyed at hearing the news, tackled Angell into a cinderblock wall. Angell was out of school for a month to recover from the resulting concussion. While catching up on her organic chemistry homework, Angell realized there had to be a more enjoyable subject, so she decided upon a career in journalism, a field she started working in when she was on staff for her high school newspaper.

At UVA, she leads The Declaration, a bi-weekly tabloid student newsmagazine that approaches the news with a large dose of satire. It can best be described, according to Angell, as a “combination between The New Yorker and The Onion, but UVA-centric.” 

When she’s not reporting on current events, Angell is writing papers to complete her double major, cognitive science and media studies.

Aynne Kokas, one of Angell’s professors at UVA, describes Angell’s writing as “creative” and “thoughtful.”

“She particularly excelled at making creative connections between class materials and contemporary social media phenomena,” said Kokas.

While fluent in social media, Angell believes there’s a downside to it, a point she wants to make in a story she is longing to write. It revolves around her correspondence with her longtime pen pal, Steff Di Pardo, 21, from Canada, with whom Angell has exchanged hand-written letters over the course of the past eight years. They met in person for the first time last year on the West Coast, where they spent two weeks together in Disneyland and Portland, Oregon.

As an only child, Angell felt that she finally had a sister. “It was very surreal,” Angell said. “It was just a very cool moment that I feel that a lot of people don’t have the opportunity to engage in anymore because our lives are just so technology oriented these days.”

But that’s a story Angell is saving to tell in the future, when she feels the timing is right. For now, she is preparing to intern at The Street, a financial news and services website, through the Dow Jones News Fund business reporting internship program.

“I’m really looking forward to learning more about the market,” said Angell.

After graduating from college next year, Angell wants to work full time in business journalism, where she’ll never have to worry about covering rezoned parking spots.