18º North Honors The Life Of Student Journalist, Isa Ridgard.
It is with immense sadness that 18⁰ North announces the passing of its youngest ever freelancer, Isa Ridgard, who lost her life in a drowning incident at Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica on Sunday, December 3, 2023. She was 18.
Isa was the eldest of twelve children of one of my closest friends, Jala Ridgard, and her husband, Wade. Isa attended St. Andrew High School for Girls before relocating to Malvern, St. Elizabeth with her family and enrolling at Hampton School. There, she was Vice President of the Journalism Society and editor of her school's magazine.
Isa was the one that approached me about journalism. She liked the field.
During Covid, she and her sister, Hannah, would join via video link a weekly investigative journalism class that fellow journalist, Kate Chappell, and I taught at Jamaica College in 2022, and after that, she wanted more experience. I assigned her to the first leg of the research for 18⁰ North's Politicians and Their Delinquent Non-Profits series that summer, and she did an excellent, meticulous job! She continued to do small assignments for 18º North up until last month.
Isa will be remembered by me for her zest for life, her desire to try her hand at everything and thrive, and her eagerness to learn the craft of journalism. She loved to write. Isa didn't know if journalism was going to be a long term plan because she was concerned about Artificial Intelligence taking its place. She was curious about making documentaries. I told her I always thought there would be a place for journalists, especially those in the investigative field.
My deepest condolences to her parents, her siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends, many of who I know personally. This one has shaken all of us hard.
Rest in peace, sweet Isa.
I know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with whom you had a close relationship, has you in His arms!
With all my love.