What Do smugglers on the high seas, Covid-19 and the New York Times Have in Common?

These are all things that TFAS student Carolina Puga Mendoza ’20, a senior at Franklin College in Indiana, experienced this summer as a participant in The 2020 Virtual Summer Program. 

While Puga Mendoza did not have to battle smugglers on the high seas, her internship supervisor Ian Urbina did, well sort of. In his latest book, Outlaw Oceans: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier Urbina delves deep into the murky depths of maritime laws, illegal fishing, modern-day slavery, clandestine oil dumpsters, exploitation, and the outright murder of stowaways.

“The biggest highlight was meeting with Ian Urbina, a reporter for the New York Times. The time with him was filled with lessons and stories of his experience reporting overseas.”

Carolina Puga Mendoza ’20 is a senior at Franklin College in Indiana.

In addition to writing at her internship, she also worked on a variety of other projects like creating content for social media, conducting research, and video editing–something Puga Mendoza taught herself to do this summer.

“Those videos I made at my internship were a pathway to discover my interest in video editing, which is why I found a video editing internship this fall.”

This summer, Puga Mendoza transitioned from working in big city London to the small town of Tequila in the western state of Jalisco in Mexico.

Puga Mendoza was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic travel bans this summer. She was finishing up a semester abroad in London when the pandemic hit and was forced to return to her hometown in Mexico. She said the uncertainly of the pandemic taught her how to work amid crisis and despite the challenges, she was able to be there for her team. When asked what she learned about herself, she said, “I learned I am capable of working under any given circumstances.”

What’s next? Puga Mendoza said she made multiple connections while participating in the Virtual Summer Program and plans to reach out to them about potential job opportunities. She hopes to work as a reporter in the United States after her internship concludes.


Learn more about Ian Urbina’s Outlaw Ocean Project.