We’re excited to announce the 20 recipients of the 2020 ProPublica Diversity Scholarship. This year’s recipients were chosen from nearly 250 applicants. Each of these talented journalists will receive a $750 scholarship to attend a conference in 2020. We understand that current events make it likely that some of these conferences will be postponed or canceled. If that happens, we’ll work with each winner individually to come up with a plan.
We’ve written about what ProPublica is doing to increase the diversity of our newsroom and of the broader journalism community. This scholarship program is part of our ongoing efforts and will help make it easier for journalists from underrepresented communities to take advantage of everything these conferences offer.
Here are this year’s recipients:
Ahmari Anthony is a junior at Howard University, majoring in journalism and minoring in English. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Ahmari has been a freelance journalist for over a year, and she also serves as a staff reporter for The Hilltop and contributes to HU News Service. Ahmari is also the community service chair of The Howard University Ida B. Wells Society, the only student chapter of the national organization. Ahmari is interested in investigative journalism, particularly covering criminal justice and education. After graduating, she plans on continuing her freelance career while pursuing a master of social work, and she aims to find ways to use media and journalism to connect and empower communities. She will be attending SRCCON.
Alex Brizee is a senior at the University of Idaho, graduating in spring 2020. She is double majoring in journalism and graphic design and intends to use her skills to tell the stories of underrepresented communities. Originally from Miami — with a Cuban American background — Alex has spent the last year working on a project titled “Brown” that encompasses some of the experiences of Hispanic and Latinx communities. Alex currently works as the news editor for The Argonaut, her school’s newspaper. But her love for journalism doesn’t end with a pen and paper: She spent last summer at USA Today as a graphics and audience intern. Alex will be attending IRE.
Alexis Brock is a third-year journalism and public affairs communications student at Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Previously, she has worked as a legal writing intern, an undergraduate opinion columnist, a digital campaign organizer and a communications lead at a tech startup. After graduation, she plans to stay in the South and use investigative reporting and data as tools to advocate for underrepresented minorities. Alexis attended NICAR.
Maya Brown is a sophomore at Stony Brook University majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. She grew up in Freeport, New York, where she gained her passion for social justice, immigration and politics. She has interned for the Long Island Herald, the Office of Communications and Marketing at Stony Brook University and the Long Island Weekly Community Newspapers. Currently, she is the assistant news editor for SBU’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and frequently writes and anchors for The Stony Brook Newsbreak. She sees an underrepresentation in topics surrounding social justice and minorities and hopes to fill that gap by becoming a White House correspondent or an immigration reporter. Maya will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Tylar Campbell is studying for his master’s degree in journalism at Stanford University. While a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, Tylar spent a summer as a research fellow with the Campaign for College Opportunity, where he contributed to a number of publications that interrogated the disproportionate outcomes for black students in the state of California. Dedicated to reshaping narratives of social and economic justice, accurate representation and reconciliation, Tylar continues to write about diversity in education, housing and development, and climate change for coastal communities. He sees a need for culturally aware reporting that builds trust among communities and allows for the mitigation of disinformation. He hopes to fill this gap through the acquisition of skills needed to become an investigative, multimedia reporter. Tylar attended NICAR.
Marisol Fernanda Chávez
Marisol Fernanda Chávez is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso. She works as web editor for the university’s paper, The Prospector, coordinating and publishing online content and multimedia packages. She has written for Borderzine, a bilingual digital publishing platform with rich content about the border region produced by multicultural student journalists. She has attended events that train journalists in digital skills and strategies for a rapidly evolving media landscape like the Associated Press Media Editors’ NewsTrain and First Draft’s workshop “2020 Live Simulation: El Paso.” Marisol will be attending ONA.
Irena Fischer-Hwang is a graduate student in the master of journalism program at Stanford University. She currently works with Stanford’s Big Local News team and produces the MIT Catalysts podcast for the MIT Club of Northern California. Previously, she wrote features and produced a podcast on classical music for The Dallas Morning News. Her work has appeared in The Smithsonian Magazine online, KQED and The Peninsula Press. She completed her Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Stanford University, and obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from MIT. After graduating in June, she plans to work in data journalism with an emphasis on telling human stories through data. Irena will be attending AAJA.
Destiniee Jaram is a junior studying journalism and African American studies at Ohio University. She has worked as a freelancer for publications such as The Post Athens, covering both hard news and features. She is currently working as a multimedia journalist at the public media center, WOUB, in Athens, Ohio. Destiniee specializes in LGBT+, gender and race beats. She hopes to give marginalized communities a platform to be heard and covered fairly through her work after graduating. Destiniee will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Caleb Jones is a junior at the University of Montevallo majoring in communication studies. He currently works with the school’s paper, The Alabamian, as a news section editor. Over the last year he has researched the differences in digital publications’ coverage of police brutality against black people. He aspires to be an investigative journalist reporting on issues of civil rights and health care. He will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Sanya Kamidi is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying communication. She currently works as the deputy news editor and director of social media strategy at the Daily Nexus, a student newspaper at UCSB. In her time at the Nexus, she has primarily worked on diversifying news coverage and producing more service journalism. She will be continuing her work at the intersection of reporting and audience engagement at The Baltimore Sun this summer. Sanya will be attending ONA.
Eleanor Klock is a junior at the University of Oregon, double majoring in journalism and Spanish with a minor in multimedia. She is a digital illustrator for several student-run publications including Ethos Magazine, an award-winning multicultural magazine. Next fall, she will study journalism in Spanish at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. Her goal is to combine digital illustration with journalism to create a more accessible media landscape. Eleanor will be attending AAJA.
Nikhil Mandalaparthy is a master’s candidate at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, specializing in international development. His reporting has focused on the intersection of politics and religion in South Asia. Most recently, as a “Beyond Religion” Reporting Fellow for the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, he investigated how shared religious spaces in India are being affected by rising polarization and Islamophobia. His writing has appeared in Indian, Pakistani and international news outlets including Scroll, Dawn, the Diplomat and Outlook India. Nikhil will be attending AAJA.
Alyssa Martinez is a sophomore political science major at the University of New Mexico and is the news editor at her college’s student-run newspaper, the New Mexico Daily Lobo. She is the student government beat reporter and hopes to one day report on domestic and international politics. She aims to use her reporting to hold governmental bodies accountable to the people they represent by decoding complex political jargon and to bring diverse perspectives into her journalistic work. Alyssa will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Peter Okeugo is a graduate student at The New School for Social Research in New York, majoring in creative publishing and critical journalism with a minor concentration in migration studies and a graduate certificate in gender and sexuality studies. He is interested in sustainable social justice at the intersection of LGBT+ issues, public health and refugees. Before moving to the U.S. in July 2018, Peter was a reporter with Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper, PUNCH. His reporting secured the release of underage Christian girls abducted by the Bauchi Shar’iah Commission in Northern Nigeria. He has also reported on LGBT+ rights in Africa. Peter is a 2018 Leader of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Program. He was recently accepted into the New York State Mentoring Program to mentor young people. Peter will be attending NLGJA.
Nushrat Rahman is a master’s candidate at Columbia Journalism School where she covers immigration, gender, religion and social issues. Before Columbia, Nushrat freelanced for local publications in Detroit, her hometown, and wrote about immigrant entrepreneurs and local small businesses. In 2018, she was selected as one of 13 contributors for The Edit, a New York Times newsletter for college students and recent graduates. Nushrat is a graduate of Wayne State University, where she studied English and sociology as a Detroit Urban Scholar. She’s driven to cover underreported communities and the policies that affect them through a narrative and investigative lens. She hopes to one day become an immigration reporter. Nushrat will be attending IRE.
Shana Risby is a senior at Marian University in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, currently majoring in communications and public relations with a minor in psychology. In her first year at the university, she was one of the founders of the first Black Student Union. She started as the public relations coordinator and is now the current president. This past summer she worked with news anchor Carolyn Clifford at one of Detroit’s top news stations, WXYZ-TV, as a news intern. Shana has conducted research on beauty standards in mainstream media and the effects they have on African American women. Shana’s goal is to work as an investigative journalist focusing on racial issues and mental health. Shana will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Angélica Serrano-Román is a senior journalism student at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico, and she has been working for Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism since 2019. She interned at Puerto Rico’s main newspaper, El Nuevo Día, in 2019, covering community, business and science stories. Her work has been published in local and U.S. mainland media, including Metro Puerto Rico and the Orlando Sentinel. Serrano-Román is also a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ board of directors. She is the first Puerto Rican recipient of the Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship, granted by the NAHJ. After graduating in June, she will start graduate studies in business and economics reporting in New York City. Angélica will be attending IRE.
Dominick Sokotoff is a sophomore studying political science at the University of Michigan. This past summer, Dominick was an intern in the U.S. Senate Press Photographers’ Gallery, during which he was interviewed by Nina Totenberg for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Dominick is currently a photographer and reporter at The Michigan Daily, and he previously wrote for the Rochester Post-Bulletin. As a reporter, he focuses on investigative reporting and politics. He’s recently reported on a growing domestic political disinformation campaign attempting to influence 2020 elections. As a photojournalist, Dominick has covered various protests and several congressional and presidential events. Dominick is working on practicing a socially responsible, intersectional approach to investigative reporting, and he aims to write articles and take photos that stimulate positive change. Dominick will be attending IRE.
Demi Vaughn is a recent graduate of Ball State University’s College of Communication, Information and Media. She has a degree in journalism with a minor in sociology and has a concentration in mass communication. She started her journalism career writing for local newspapers and magazines. Her byline can be found in The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Recorder, The Ball State Daily News, Black Press USA, Indiana Minority Business Magazine, Hope For Women Magazine and Ball Bearings Magazine. She has a passion for the entertainment industry and she has created her own online web series that features influential people of all backgrounds. Her passion for storytelling has led her to interviewing Korey Wise and Kevin D. Richardson, both from the exonerated Central Park Five, and reality stars like Claudia Jordan. She hopes to work with organizations like Vogue, Complex, Vanity Fair and E! News in the future. Demi will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Francisco Velazquez found his passion for storytelling anywhere he could find the truth. He is influenced by his Southern and Central American upbringing and is a fluent Spanish speaker. As he aspires to develop his storytelling skills, he is driven to widen people’s understanding of their placement in the world, and their integral part within it. He is a senior at the University of Wisconsin majoring in journalism and anthropology with a certificate in Chicanx/Latinx studies. He has interned at Harvard’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic and at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. He is also a former writing fellow for the Center for Journalism Ethics. He hopes to work as an investigative journalist. Francisco will be attending NABJ/NAHJ.