ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters Program seeks to increase the diversity of the investigative journalism field by providing promising students with support, training and resources to help them pursue careers in this industry.
The program, now in its seventh year, provides participants with a $9,000 stipend, mentorship from a ProPublica journalist and trips to the annual NICAR conference and to our New York office. Past Emerging Reporters have gone on to work at MSNBC, The Atlantic, The City, Vox and other publications.
We’ve picked what we believe is an outstanding cohort that represents a diverse range of skill sets, backgrounds and collegiate journeys, and each individual showcases a commitment to investigative journalism. Their desire to learn and pursue ambitious, important stories inspired us, and we’re excited to support them as they begin their investigative journalism careers.
Here is this year’s class:
Victoria Valenzuela is a senior at the University of Southern California, where she is a reporter and assistant editor for the Daily Trojan. She has been chosen to serve on the student committee for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and is founder and president of the Wrongful Convictions Club USC. Valenzuela has interned at BuzzFeed News, had worked for the USC Annenberg Center on Communication and Leadership Policy, and is a news editor at Scheerpost. She hopes to investigate issues within prisons and the criminal justice system. Valenzuela is from Hacienda Heights, California.
Donovan Thomas is a senior at Howard University majoring in print/digital journalism and minoring in Spanish. Thomas has served as campus news editor and editor-in-chief for The Hilltop student newspaper and is president of the Howard University chapter of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting. He has interned with The Washington Informer, The Charlotte Observer and most recently, The New York Times investigations desk, where he contributed to reporting on the coronavirus and policing practices. He is currently an intern on The Washington Post’s Metro desk. He is from New Orleans.
Stephanie Lai is a senior at Columbia University studying political science, where she serves as the investigations editor for the Columbia Daily Spectator. Lai has worked on metro desks across the country including the Pasadena Star-News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. She also participated in The New York Times Student Journalism Institute in 2020. Her interests include covering Asian American communities, criminal justice and politics. She is from Temecula, California.
Kailyn Rhone is a public relations student from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who is a senior at Florida A&M University. She was a health and environment reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and an engagement intern for UC Berkeley’s alumni magazine. She is currently a reporting fellow for The Texas Tribune. Her reporting has also appeared in Teen Vogue and the Tallahassee Democrat. Rhone is dedicated to providing a voice for underrepresented communities and addressing the unspoken issues surrounding them in hopes of creating change for future generations to come.
Omar Rashad is a senior at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, where he serves as the data and investigations editor at the student-run Mustang News. His reporting focuses on the intersections of housing, higher education and state legislation. He is a proud community college graduate and previously interned at CalMatters and the San Francisco Chronicle. Home for Rashad is Hawthorne, California.
Kalley Huang is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, where she studies statistics and journalism as a Robertson Scholar. She is currently a data visuals fellow at The Texas Tribune and data editor at The Daily Tar Heel. Huang previously reported for The Dallas Morning News and the El Paso Times and covered the 2020 election cycle for The 9th Street Journal in Durham, North Carolina. She is from New York City.