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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, April 29, 2010

Uproar Intern Nicole Kato falls in love with MMA

Riana Stellburg
Reader Submitted

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Journalism and communication junior Nicole Kato interviews local MMA Fighter Bryson Kamaka after a fight. Interviewing is one of the many skills that Kato practices with her Uproar internship.

Brittany Yap

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Imagine an internship where you get to attend local Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights, interview the fighters, take pictures, write articles, and expand your network. Your boss is a local journalism teacher from HPU but the relationship between you two feels more like a professional friendship.

Sounds like the perfect internship right?

Ask Nicole Kato, HPU junior, who interns for uproarhawaii.com. Uproar, now exclusively online, was started by HPU journalism adjunct Brittany Yap.

Double-majoring in journalism and communication, this internship is right up Kato's alley.

"I take pictures, write articles, and interview fighters. I feel like I'm meeting celebrities when I interview fighters," said Kato.

Rather than being star-struck, the fighters she interviews are quick to acknowledge Kato's excellent communication skills.

"She was easy to talk to and the interview was more like a conversation," said Women's Amateur Title Match winner Raquel Pa'aluhi.

Photography is one of Kato's favorite hobbies and is able to use this skill when taking photos of the fights.

"I love the feeling of snapping a picture, looking at the screen after, and seeing a really awesome picture come out that captures the heart of the fight," said Kato.

Better than watching the fights on television, Kato gets to see and even feel the sweat from some of the MMA fighters.

"I got sweat on my face during one of the fights at Level 4. It was from a huge guy, and the only thing I could think of was 'Along Came Polly,'" said Kato.

Going into the MMA scene with no knowledge of the sport, Kato easily picked up on the lingo and the ins and outs of the events.

During the fights, she constantly updates her Twitter status with the recent scores of the MMA fights.

"She's a quick learner," said Yap. "It's nice to have someone with a mind I can shape and mold."

With different modes of focus, Kato is either watching the fights through her camera lens and waiting for a shot or concentrating on the fight's technicalities for the stats.

Kato's growing familiarity with MMA definitely shows.

The articles she writes on Uproar's website have visual details that are usually impossible to describe without seeing it. The photos she takes under the instruction of Yap really do capture, 'the heart of the fight."

"At first it was overwhelming. There were so many people but it was really captivating," said Kato. "It took some time getting used to how the whole event works, but this experience is definitely helping my writing and photography skills as well as my interviewing skills."

Having the privilege to interview the MMA fighters are one of the many perks of this internship. Kato gets to know the fighters and during the fights it is difficult not to take sides with a certain fighter.

"I find myself wanting to scream for the person I want to win, but I have to remember to be objective and personal," said Kato

With the competitive journalism industry, many students feel that it is hard to just have a degree in journalism. To be able to survive they feel that they must offer more to their future employer.

"I feel really blessed to have this internship. I think it's important for college students to have internships because it helps to get their foot in the door," said Kato. "They get to go through the experiences that they'll have to go through in the future."

Not only does it help her job experience but it also expands her social networks.

"I meet a lot of new people that teach me about the sport and about how to cover it via stories and photos. I'm making a lot of connections that I can use in the future. The people I meet are amazing," said Kato.

Internships offer endless opportunities and benefits as well as an introduction to something you never thought you would become passionate about.

"I find myself watching fights on Youtube or on MMA websites. MMAweekly.com is even one of my homepage tabs, and I follow a lot of MMA enthusiasts, fighters, and gyms on Twitter," said Kato. "I'm falling in love with this sport."

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