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Announcing ProPublica’s Emerging Reporters

This summer, ProPublica announced its Emerging Reporters Program, in which student journalists of color get stipends giving them the financial freedom and support to do great journalism.

We received more than 350 applications, representing a wide swath of schools and many worthy applicants. Each of our five recipients will receive $4,500 per semester. They will also receive ongoing mentoring from a ProPublica journalist, and will visit our offices in New York for a week.

Here are our five winners:

Maya Cade is a senior at Howard University, where she has served as deputy editor of the student newspaper and majors in print journalism. Maya grew up in New Orleans. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Maya writes, she became “cognizant of the true impact of media, especially when they get the story wrong.” In April, Maya founded a website called a Tribe Called News, which she envisions as “a platform where millennials of color can discuss their points of view while adhering to journalistic standards.” She intends to use the stipend to fund her website and to launch an investigative feature.

Rajaa Elidrissi is a senior at Wesleyan University, where she studies anthropology and Middle Eastern studies and co-founded Middle Eastern Perspectives, an Arab affinity group that partners with the university’s Students of Color Coalition to combat discrimination based on race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status on campus. As a freshman, Rajaa wrote for the student newspaper, but had to stop because she works three to four campus jobs a semester to make ends meets. “Being a part of this program and having this stipend allows me to utilize not only the resources of ProPublica, but my school’s journalism resources as well, especially during my last year at this university,” Rajaa writes. Rajaa was born and raised in Elmhurst, Queens, to parents who emigrated from Morocco. She has been a participant and student counselor at the Summer Journalism Program at Princeton and interned last summer at CNN. 

Kristen Luna is a second year photojournalism student at Pasadena City College, where she is editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  After spending most of her twenties supporting herself as a waitress, sales associate, nanny, cashier and hotel front desk clerk, Kristen decided to become the first in her Mexican-American family to go to college.  Nathan McIntire, the faculty adviser of the paper, wrote that Kristen, now age 30, “quickly emerged as one of our finest writers.” He added that “the fact that Kristen is now leading the newsroom is a testament to her talent and remarkable determination.” This grant will free Kristen to focus on her editorship of the newspaper.

Gabriel Sandoval is a third-year journalism major at California State University in Chico. Last May, Gabriel graduated from Southwestern Community College in Chula Vista, 15 minutes from the US-Mexican border.  During his time there, Gabriel writes, he witnessed “a star student narrowly dodging deportation, rampant homelessness in the Tijuana Canals, campus employees victimized by identity theft, alleged institutionalized racism and much more.” He says that “reading, writing and editing these stories has moved me like nothing else.” This grant will cover Gabriel’s tuition at CSU with a few hundred dollars to spare.  He currently supports himself as a clerk at Safeway.  

Amaka Uchegbu is a junior at Yale University, where she studies Ethics, Politics, and Economics and writes about health issues for the Yale Daily News.

Last summer, during an internship for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, she investigated the prevalence of sexual assault among the homeless. Amaka was born in Nigeria and raised in the North of England. She is particularly grateful for the Emerging Reporters Program. “The ProPublica stipend is one of the very few funding channels that could support my pursuit of journalism this coming year,” she writes.  As an international student, this grant is particularly meaningful to her because she isn’t eligible for most grants and scholarships. Amaka will continue to write for the Yale Daily News until the end of September before taking on an editorship at the paper.

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