We’re excited to announce the 25 recipients of the 2021 ProPublica Diversity Scholarship. Our sixth annual scholarship program received additional support from The Pudding, an online visual essays publication.
This year’s recipients were chosen from more than 200 applicants. Each of these talented journalists will receive a $750 scholarship to attend a virtual or in-person conference in 2021 in addition to having journalism-related expenses covered to advance their education.
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:
John Adair is a photographer and visual storyteller. He has worked as a social media manager, photojournalist and event photographer over his time with a camera. He is a student at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, and provides photographs to The Torch at LCC and local news outlet Double Sided Media. He is a recent recipient of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s Black Lives Matter grant, and his works have been featured at Maude Kerns Art Center and the Auburn Art Gallery and published in Denali Magazine, The Torch and The Pitch. His goals as a photographer are to have published works in the form of photo books and to bring compelling stories on important topics to local communities. Adair will be attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention and a National Press Photographers Association workshop.
Nadia Bey is a sophomore at Duke University, where she is a university news editor for The Chronicle and co-president of Her Campus. Her experience ranges from magazine journalism to science writing, and her favorite stories often involve combing through documents and spreadsheets. Her long-term goal is to use the data and communication skills gained through journalism to better the health and welfare of communities. Bey will be attending NABJ and the Investigative Reporters & Editors conference.
Marilyn Chavez-Martinez is a junior at UCLA, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Previously, she has interned at her local radio station, KHTS FM 98.1 & AM 1220, and at her hometown newspaper, The Santa Clarita Valley Signal. She has also worked as a reporter and assistant news editor for her college newspaper, the Daily Bruin. She decided to combine her two biggest passions, journalism and creating inclusive workspaces, as a third-year by serving as the paper’s first outreach director. She now manages recruitment and retention efforts for the Daily Bruin, reaches out to community colleges to let them know about UCLA student media opportunities, and works with alumni to support student staffers. After graduation, she would like to work at a hyperlocal news outlet in California and report on local government and politics. Chavez-Martinez will be attending the National Association for Hispanic Journalists conference.
Liset Cruz is a first-generation Mexican-American and college student currently completing her third year at the University of Georgia, where she is majoring in journalism and sociology with minors in Latinx studies and human services. She’s a Spanish speaker fluent in English, as well as conversational in French. As a local reporter for The Red & Black, a student paper, Cruz is constantly in touch with the local community, walking around campus and bumping into sources. She knows the issues that affect them and that they care about, because she lives in the community. She is also a freelance reporter for The Gainesville Times, where she covers the underrepresented Latinx community on issues that are important to them. After she graduates, she intends to attend Columbia University for its investigative journalism master's program or work for an investigative journalism team focusing on political corruption, immigration and other social issues. Cruz would like to attend a variety of conferences including IRE, NAHJ and the Journalism & Women Symposium.
Vanessa Handy is a sophomore at New York University studying media studies and journalism. Her career in journalism is driven by her passion for the arts, entertainment and social justice among communities of color. She has been a community organizer since 2018 with Social Justice Matters, a grassroots organization in her hometown in New Jersey. Her experiences locally advocating for race education influence her written work and goals for outreach. She has contributed to NYU’s PB Press and Washington Square News, where she has written stories featuring Tony-winning stage designers and nationally renowned activists. Handy was also an intern for New York Amsterdam News, the nation’s oldest Black newspaper, where she interviewed Gabrielle Union for the publication’s podcast. She intends to use her platform as a writer and creator to share stories about people of color and uplift underrepresented voices. She will be attending NABJ.
Amanda Hernández is a sophomore journalism and information science double major at the University of Maryland. She is a bilingual student journalist based out of the Washington metropolitan area. She is currently interning for USA Today’s politics desk. She is an assistant news editor and covers justice, identity and equity issues at The Diamondback. Upon graduation, she plans to use her experience in data and Spanish-language journalism to tell the untold stories of underrepresented communities across the country. Hernández will be attending NAHJ and IRE.
Khimmoy Hudson is a senior at Miami Lakes Educational Center, where he is enrolled in the journalism program. He plans on attending Pomona College in the fall as a Posse Scholar, with the intent to major in English and philosophy. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Miami. Most recently, Hudson has worked with the Urban Health Media Project, alongside Jayne O’Donnell and Brie Zeltner, where he has covered topics regarding trauma. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of his school’s newspaper, The Harbinger. Hudson would like to attend a variety of conferences including those held by the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Online News Association, and the Society for News Design.
Cory Johnson is a junior at the University of Missouri studying journalism. He currently works as a reporter and producer for KOMU-TV, Columbia/Jefferson City’s NBC affiliate. For the past year, his work has focused on finding trends in COVID-19 data and the local government’s response. Most recently, he”s tracked vaccine distribution throughout mid-Missouri, especially to rural communities. Johnson previously worked for community newspapers in Wauseon, Ohio, where he was recognized by the National Press Club for extensive coverage of the state’s first-of-its-kind violent offender registry. He will be attending IRE.
Katharine Khamhaengwong is a second-year Central Eurasian studies master’s student at Indiana University, focusing on relationships between the countries of the former Soviet Union and the Islamic world, particularly in the Caucasus. She is a copy editor for the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands and a breaking news photographer for the Indiana Daily Student, where she has previously been a news reporter and a food columnist. She has taught English in Georgia with the Peace Corps, and speaks varying degrees of Georgian, Russian and Persian. After graduating in August, she plans to either spend the autumn in Georgia counting raptors on the Black Sea coast or the year in Georgia on a Fulbright grant doing ethnographic research on everyday Islamic practices, before beginning to work in the South Caucasus as a freelance writer, editor and photographer. She plans to use investigative reporting and visual storytelling to examine environmental issues in the complex political context of the region, and the relationships between ecology and immigration, food, technology, transportation, religion, culture and the future. Khamhaengwong will be attending a National Press Photographers Association workshop.
Jason Lalljee is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, currently studying political science and English. He has spent most of his college life editing the news section for The Chicago Maroon, and the last of it as managing editor of the university’s College News. Lalljee spent two summers and last fall writing for the national politics desk at USA Today. His interests as a student and a journalist overlap: He studies educational, financial and political inequities along racial lines, and currently studies some of those themes in his research with Patricia Posey, who studies the fringe economy and racial capitalism. Lalljee grew up in Queens, New York, and loves “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” He would like to attend the Asian American Journalists Association, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and NPPA conferences.
Chloe K. Li
Chloe K. Li is a third-year journalism and transcultural studies student at American University in Washington, D.C. She leads her campus’s investigative reporting publication, AWOL, as the editor-in-chief and is an Emma Bowen fellow at WNYC in New York City. She has also attended the Dow Jones News Fund’s data journalism boot camp. After graduating, Li hopes to continue reporting on issues that matter to her in New York City or Washington, D.C. In her work as a journalist, she seeks to report with communities rather than just on communities. Chloe will be attending IRE and AAJA.
Sierra Lyons is a senior broadcast journalism student at Florida A&M University. Previously she worked as an editorial intern at The American Prospect magazine. Currently she is the opinions editor for FAMU’s student newspaper, The Famuan. She is also a freelance journalist who focuses on race, religion and politics. Recently she was published in Teen Vogue and Newsweek. After graduation, Lyons hopes to start her own multimedia company that highlights the intersection of race and religion. She will be attending NABJ and ONA.
Thomas Manglona is a journalist from Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands with experience working in regional and local newsrooms across print, radio, television and digital platforms. He is a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and a graduate student in journalism at Stanford University as a Truman Scholar. He is passionate about telling stories from and for Oceania. Manglona will be attending AAJA.
Julian Mendoza is a junior studying journalism at California State University, Chico. He is currently a fellow for the CalMatters College Journalism Network, is a National Public Radio Next Generation Radio alum and was the podcast editor for The Orion. He wants to write investigative stories about the inequities in underrepresented communities. Mendoza will be attending IRE.
Estefanía Mitre is a proud Mexican immigrant and currently a social media intern at Agence France-Presse, while also freelancing for ImpreMedia as an audience engagement editor. She was part of El Diario Nueva York’s second cohort of the Instagram Local News Fellowship, a collaboration between the Facebook Journalism Project and the Reynolds Journalism Institute to create new ways to connect with younger audiences on Instagram. She has worked as a student journalist for a project with NBC News and Noticias Telemundo portraying life on the border in the lead-up the Democratic presidential debates, and at the El Paso Herald-Post as a Latinx/social justice reporter. She’s also working with the STTE Foundation as a segment producer for a high school news show “Say What?!” covering STEM and entrepreneurship. Mitre hopes to use her reporting to shed light on underreported voices and promote inclusion in the media industry. She is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso and is originally from Juárez, Mexico. She would like to attend NAHJ, NLGJA, and ONA.
Rommel H. Ojeda
Rommel Ojeda is a freelance journalist and documentarian. His works can be seen on Documented, CUNY TV, the Queens Chronicle, and Bklyner. A summa cum laude graduate of Baruch College, he received a BA in journalism and creative writing, with a minor in film. His short film “RECOLLECTION,” an interpersonal piece exploring the anxiety in New York brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, is an official selection for the Film Consortium San Diego’s Quarantine Film Challenge. During his undergrad years he was a contributor to the student-run newspaper, Dollars & Sense. He was awarded the Harnisch Foundation’s scholarship for outstanding students committed to a career in journalism, and the 2019 Roslyn Bernstein prize for cultural reporting. He was also a honoree for the SABEW19 Best in Business award for best collaboration in reporting. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Spanish-language journalism with a documentary specialization, as a Lisa Goldberg/Revson Scholar at The Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. He is based in New York City. Ojeda will be attending NAHJ.
Matthew Reysio-Cruz is a Filipino-American journalism and international affairs dual degree student at Columbia University. He is also a Toni Stabile investigative reporting fellow and Overseas Press Club Foundation scholar. Born and raised in Manila, he worked as a reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s top newspaper, where he covered education, trial courts and local politics. After graduation, he plans to focus on investigating human rights abuses with an emphasis on humanitarian affairs and the intersection of migration and labor. Reysio-Cruz will be attending IRE and AAJA.
Angelica Relente is a fourth-year multimedia journalism student at Washington State University. Currently, she is an intern at the Columbia Basin Herald, reporting on the state legislative session. Previously, she has worked as the editor-in-chief, news editor, layout editor and news reporter for WSU’s student newspaper, The Daily Evergreen. After she graduates in May 2021, she will work at The News Tribune as one of its summer news interns. Angelica was born in Manila, Philippines, and moved to Oahu, Hawaii, when she was 8 years old. Relente would like to attend AAJA, IRE, JAWS, NPPA, ONA and SRCCON.
Kami Rieck is a fourth-year journalism and political science student at Boston University. She was born in China and raised in Indiana. Rieck is currently an audience engagement intern at The Boston Globe, an engagement fellow at The Texas Tribune and a statehouse correspondent at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. She produced social media content for a May 2020 Boston Globe report on the coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts. Previously, she was a social media fellow at Business Insider and an audience engagement co-op at The Boston Globe. She has also been an event marketing intern for Boston Magazine and a multimedia editor for The Daily Free Press at Boston University. She produced and edited a short film documentary for the Harvard Political Review highlighting how COVID-19 school closures impacted first-generation and low-income students. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in audience engagement at a news organization. Rieck will be attending ONA.
Claudia Rivera Cotto
Claudia Rivera Cotto is in her last year of undergraduate studies, specializing in journalism and English at the University of Puerto Rico. From 2017 to 2018, she studied at Brown University. Claudia has been a research assistant at the National Archives and Records Administration. Currently, she is the co-director of news at Pulso Estudiantil, a digital student media outlet, and an intern at the Puerto Rico Public Broadcasting Corporation and the Center for Investigative Journalism. After graduation, she will continue with graduate study and work as an investigative journalist on topics such as human rights, climate change, gender and politics. Rivera will be attending IRE and JAWS and hopes to gain techniques and advice to improve her work.
Anjelica Rubin is a first-year student at Penn State University, majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in political science. She has worked as a field reporter and anchor for campus television and radio and is currently the social media coordinator for the largest race and cultural relations course in the United States. Rubin works in the news division for Penn State’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Collegian, aiming to cover the stories of underrepresented communities in central Pennsylvania. She is also a member of the Penn State chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists. After graduation, Rubin hopes to stay on the East Coast and use her foundation in multimedia and news reporting to cover politics in Washington. She will be attending NAHJ.
Bella Ruiz is a third-year journalism major and sociology minor at the University of Florida. She currently works at The Independent Florida Alligator as a copy editor and Her Campus UFL as a co-senior news editor. After graduation, she plans to stay on the East Coast and work as a fact-finder or copy editor on a reproductive rights team. Ruiz would like to attend NABJ, NAHJ, NLGJA and JAWS.
Tanushri Sundar is a senior computer science and cognitive science student at Brown University, where she has completed coursework in nonfiction writing. Last summer, she researched pandemic learning losses in Providence, Rhode Island. Previously, she taught public speaking in Japan, wrote science research articles for The Brown Daily Herald and worked in data visualization. After graduation, Sundar would like to pursue data journalism and report on Asian American experiences. She will attend AAJA.
Julia Annette Woock is a Latina born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in a binational borderlands community by a single mother. She is double majoring in political science and journalism, while transferring from Southwestern College to a four-year institution. She holds associate degrees in Italian, economics and liberal studies with an emphasis in math and science. Woock is editor-in-chief of America’s top-ranked community college newspaper, The Southwestern College Sun, where she covers local politics, immigration and indigenous civil rights. She has been honored as a National College Reporter of the Year by the Associated Collegiate Press as well as the Western Publishing Association (Best College Article), Society of Professional Journalists, American Scholastic Press Association and the San Diego Press Club (for leadership and coverage of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and marginalized communities). She is a member of the SPJ, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Native American Journalists Association and Latino Journalists of California. Woock is currently involved on campus as Students for Social Justice and M.E.Ch.A. treasurer, as well as a former student government vice president and a leader in Model UN, Italian and chemistry clubs. Julia will be attending NAHJ.
Angela Yang is a sophomore at Boston University studying journalism and international relations. She currently interns at WGBH, a member station of NPR, and is a freelance fact-checker for “America’s Test Kitchen.” Her work has been published by Poynter, The Boston Globe and CBS Boston. Previously, she served as editor-in-chief of her college newspaper The Daily Free Press. Yang aims to expand news audiences by telling stories that resonate with underrepresented readers, especially during a time when trust in the media is fraying rapidly. Throughout her career, she hopes to continue examining class-based inequities through narrative reporting that humanizes the data. Yang will be attending IRE and ONA.