RTDNF awards more than $31,000 in scholarships and fellowships

June 7, 2018 11:00

The Radio Television Digital News Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of more than $31,000 in fellowships and scholarships. The recipients of these three fellowships for new professionals and nine scholarships for journalism students have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to broadcast and digital news, its ethical principles and the foundations of storytelling.

In addition to monetary awards, the honorees will be invited to attend the fall Excellence in Journalism conference in Baltimore.

The 2018 class of fellowship and scholarship recipients includes nine young journalists of color – six of them women of color.

From Washington State to Washington, DC, these twelve journalists represent the best and brightest in news. From health to science to sports and politics, they’ve demonstrated a commitment to keeping their communities informed.

Since 1970, RTDNF has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships and fellowships to more than 500 young journalists as part of its mission as the educational arm of RTDNA.

Recipients have gone on to enjoy careers in journalism as reporters, anchors and news directors, as well as careers in related fields such as White House speechwriter, media regulatory attorney and journalism educator. Several former recipients have served as RTDNA board members and many are Murrow Award winners.

RTDNF thanks the generous donors who make these awards possible for supporting the future of journalism.

The 2018 fellowship and scholarship recipients are:

Carole Simpson Scholarship, presented by barrier-breaking journalist Carole Simpson, this $2,000 award given annually to a student of color supports media diversity.        
Donovan Harris, University of Georgia 2019, is an aspiring broadcast journalist and a rising senior in the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is passionate about pursuing a career in broadcast journalism as he has interned at 11Alive News (WXIA) in Atlanta and will complete an internship at CBS National News in New York as an IRTS Fellow. He considers it a great honor to be able to tell other people's stories. Follow Donovan on Twitter at @donoharr.

N.S. Bienstock Fellowship, established by Richard Leibner and Carole Cooper of the talent firm now known as Bienstock, a UTA Company, this $2,500 award supports a new professional minority broadcast journalist. 
Jessica Meszaros, is a host/reporter for WUSF News in Tampa. She's been a voice on Florida public radio for six years. Jessica has won awards for her writing, reporting, hosting and newscasts from RTDNA, AP and PRNDI. Follow Jessica on Twitter at @JMMeszaros.

Michele Clark Fellowship, named for the CBS News correspondent tragically killed in a plane crash while on assignment, this $1,000 award supports a new professional minority broadcast journalist.    
David Tony Pierce is a 2017 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His favorite quote is “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.” He believes that having the skills to be a storyteller is special. Therefore, he sees it as his duty to impact the community he’ll serve and get the job done with great integrity. Follow David on Twitter at @davidpierceui7.

Minnotte Health Reporting Fellowship, a $2,000 award supporting a broadcast journalist on the health beat.

Isabella Gomes is an Indian-Chinese public health reporter and epidemiologist from Canada, who specializes in issues regarding healthcare marginalization, social welfare systems and human rights. For four years, she contributed to research on tuberculosis prevention, antibiotic resistance and maternal mortality at institutions across South Africa, Vietnam and Brazil. In 2017, she received a master’s in science reporting from Columbia Journalism School, New York, and most recently, worked at the award-winning magazine, Miami New Times. There, she wrote a number of cover stories and investigations, including a profile on a sex offender encampment in the city’s industrial district and an analysis of boating accidents in Florida’s backwaters. She is currently studying global health and reproductive epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. Follow Isabella on her website.

George Foreman Tribute to Lyndon B. Johnson Scholarship, presented to a student at the University of Texas at Austin, this $6,000 award established by the boxing champion honors his inspirations, President Johnson and RTDNF Founder Barney Oldfield.    
Dani Matias, University of Texas at Austin 2019, is a senior studying broadcast journalism and minoring in Spanish. During her college career, she has interned for KUT radio station in Austin, The Texas Standard radio magazine and KERA radio station in Dallas, was a part of NPR’s Next Generation Radio Project and served as the podcast technical producer for The Daily Texan newspaper. This summer she interned for WAMU radio station in Washington, DC and is set to graduate in May 2019. Post-graduation, Dani hopes to work for a local NPR station as a reporter covering cultural issues and underrepresented communities, helping to give all voices agency. Follow Dani on her website or on Twitter at @Matias7Dani.

Lou & Carole Prato Sports Reporting Fellowship, presented annually by past board member Lou Prato and his wife Carole, this $1,000 award is presented to a student pursuing sports journalism.

Jack Kizer, Ball State University 2020, is a junior majoring in digital sports production. The Indianapolis native found his love for broadcasting sports during high school and carried that into college, where he has continued to expand his skillset. Jack has broadcasted for a variety of radio and television stations such as the Ball State Radio Network and ESPN3. He holds a strong passion for his work and plans to enthusiastically pursue a career in sports broadcasting. Follow Jack on his website or on Twitter at @jack_kizer.

Presidents Scholarship, a $1,000 award in memory of past RTDNA presidents in recognition of two broadcast journalism students’ excellence.    
Kari Jakobsen, Washington State University 2019, is a senior Multimedia Journalism student in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. She currently works as a co-general manager and DJ at KZUU 90.7 FM and as an on-air announcer at ZFUN 106 in Moscow, Idaho. She hopes to work on-air in country radio once she graduates. 

Presidents Scholarship, a $1,000 award in memory of past RTDNA presidents in recognition of two broadcast journalism students’ excellence.         
Samantha Avalos, Emerson College 2018, is a journalism major with an emphasis in broadcast journalism and a minor in political science. She is the current News Director of WEBN, an on campus news station at Emerson College, President of Emerson's RTDNA chapter, Secretary of Emerson's National Association of Hispanic Journalists chapter, and winner of the NATAS Student Emmy for Newscast. Samantha is interning for NBC's TODAY Show at the Los Angeles bureau this summer.

Pete Wilson Scholarship honoring the late San Francisco broadcast journalist, this $2,000 grant is awarded to a Bay Area journalism student.             

Nuria Marquez Martinez is a Master's candidate at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where she reports on education and community stories in Richmond and Oakland. Before coming to Berkeley, she worked and studied in Pittsburgh, PA. She has contributed to KALW, The East Bay Express, and Pittsburgh Magazine. Follow Nuria on her website.

Mike Reynolds Scholarship, in memory of the late KCCI-TV editor, this $1,000 award recognized a student’s writing and dedication to news.       
Jordan Elder, Arizona State University 2019, is an aspiring broadcast journalist pursuing a joint bachelor's and master's degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri, Jordan has won many regional and national awards for her work in journalism, including two NATAS Student Production Awards for On-Air Talent and the Student Television Network's Student of the Year award. Jordan was a part of the Electionland collaboration between the Cronkite School, Google and ProPublica, served as a host and producer on Cronkite Cut, a student-produced news program, and currently interns at KPNX 12 News, the NBC affiliate in Phoenix. She hopes to become a broadcast reporter and a changemaker that leads journalism into a new era. Follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanElderTV.

Lee Thornton Scholarship, a $2,000 award established to honor the groundbreaking late journalist and editor. 

Sydney Williams, Howard University 2019, is a senior majoring in journalism. Her campus involvement currently includes serving as president of the Howard University Association of Black Journalists, digital content manager at WHBC 96.3 radio, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She has had the honor of spending two consecutive summers at NBC Universal as an intern, and she is also a 2018 IRTS (International Radio and Television Society) Fellow. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career as a digital producer for a major media platform. Follow Sydney on her website.


Ed Bradley Scholarship, RTDNF’s most prestigious scholarship, this $10,000 award is presented to an outstanding student of color in memory of the late CBS News’ 60 Minutes correspondent and groundbreaking journalist.   
Brittany Brown, University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media 2019, is a senior journalism major and Spanish minor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Brown is very involved in Ole Miss student media, where she is the assistant news editor for The Daily Mississippian newspaper and was the digital content producer for the NewsWatch Ole Miss, a live, student-run TV news program. Brown is passionate about investigative journalism and multimedia storytelling, and she is currently completing a summer-long fellowship with Carnegie-Knight News21 at Arizona State University, where student-journalists from across the country and world are producing a national project on hate crimes and acts of hate in America. Follow Brittanay on her website or on Twitter at @isthatbritt.