Class of 2017

Havana & Trinidad, Cuba // Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminar // January 2-16, 2017.

RGNN Academy Scholarship Recipient

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Columbia University
United States

Gabriela Milian.

Gabriela Milian is a broadcast journalist who has worked in various entry-level positions at CBS News, CNN, NBC News, News 12 New Jersey, and Telemundo Media, a division of NBCUniversal, amongst others.

Gabriela is proficient in writing, shooting, and editing her own stories both in English and for the Spanish speaking community.

She hopes to continue building her career as a proficient storyteller for news outlets around the country and the globe.

She is currently obtaining her Master of Science in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia University in New York, and holds a B.A. in Journalism and Spanish from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she moreover completed a Documentary Film Certificate.

View her demoreel at http://gabrielamiliantv.com.

RGNN Academy Scholarship Recipient

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Boston University
United States

Taylor Robinson.

My name is Taylor and I am from Boston, MA. I am a senior at Boston University studying Journalism.

In 2015, I studied abroad for four months in Madrid, Spain where I took a full course load in Spanish and interned at a bilingual elementary school.

My interests are education, traveling, and feminism.

I am also currently a marketing and communications intern in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development for the City of Boston where I assist in video production and editing for the Office.

After I graduate, I want to continue to explore interests in photography, creative directing, and broadcasting.

Read her blog at https://taycamr.wordpress.com/.

RGNN Academy Scholarship Recipient

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University of Strathclyde
United Kingdom

James Rae.

Throughout my education I have maintained a heavy interest for the subject of English. From this has stemmed the passion for both Journalism and Creative Writing, which is why I chose to further my knowledge of these three subjects by studying them at University – in hope that I will go on to pursue a career as a journalist, with the additional and useful knowledge of the other two subjects.

I have had several pieces of writing published, including my feature in the book “Teen Poet: The Poet Within”. I was also given the editorial position at my school’s Journalism Society.

Aside from this, my frequent and wide-ranging travels have inspired me to document the different places I visit, both photographically and through writing. As I am now at the stage where I have enough content, I am currently in the midst of creating a travel blog, which will feature the best photographs I have taken, as well as some hints and tips I picked up for people wishing to travel to the same place.

Through my studies, I have developed, and continue to develop a variety of skills that are necessary to these subjects, such as accuracy and precision, as well as enhancing my general knowledge of the subjects as a whole. I lam an open-minded individual who celebrates diversity and the different walks of life, which is partly due to having the privilege of discovering many different cultures. Going to Cuba will be a fantastic opportunity to take my love for Travel Journalism and Photography to the next level, at the same time as heightening my appreciation for different cultures.

RGNN Academy Scholarship Recipient

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United States

Leah Hodgson.

My name is Leah (pronounced: “Lay”, like the potato chips) and I recently moved back to the New York area after a few years of living in Colorado, United States.

After completing a medical internship in Southeast Asia three years ago, I decided to take a break from a traditional, formal education at University level (that was making me miserable) and alternatively educate myself by traveling as much and as often as possible, and work in between those trips to fund them.

Throughout this process, I have also reunited with my love of photography, and in the process of struggling to put all of the beautiful experiences and moments I have endured while traveling into words, have also begun writing again.

While I have dabbled with the idea of creating a travel blog to share what I have learned and encourage others to go out and do the same, I have also found myself striving for a bit more than that, in terms of both audience and content, and look forward to the opportunity this Internship Seminar will offer me to learn about and shadow photojournalism as a sort of stepping stone for me to eventually turn my passion into a career.

RGNN Academy Scholarship Recipient

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Midwestern State University

United States

Jessalyn Jahn Castro.

I began my journalism career in middle school, where I enrolled in my first newspaper class and immediately found an interest. I mostly drew towards sports, which have consumed my life since the age of four. One of my goals in writing sports stories for my school’s sports teams was to get them acknowledged and draw more people for support.

I’ve also done feature and news writing, and received awards through the University Interscholastic League in high school and for the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association in college. My first piece of published work was a feature story in a local magazine in Schertz, Texas in May 2013.

Although I have never submitted any pictures for competition or have had any published, photography has always been a hobby of mine, publishing photos on my social media accounts. In photography I believe I have a strong-suit for composition and capturing candid moments, but would like to learn more about the camera itself and the certain settings I would need to get a certain shot.

From taking an interest in photography and giving my photos more depth, I have learned that videography is another art form that I intend on learning more about. I have also done projects for my personal pleasure and to gain more experience in filming and editing. Currently, I am taking classes for broadcast journalism, -my major is mass communication,- and am involved in an undergraduate research project involving a documentary.

My main goals are to learn more about what is done behind the scenes at a news agency, not just to study the end product of a project, but what it takes to make it happen and how to be successful in producing commendable work.

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Universidad Europea de Madrid

Madrid, Spain

Schehrazada Parro.

My name is Schehrazada, but everyone calls me Chery. I’m 20 years old and my ultimate goal is to work as a freelance journalist in countries that are at war (Yemen, Syria…)

I’m currently in my third year of university, studying Journalism and International Affairs. Throughout the years, I have learned the basic of journalism and how to use a professional camera, – my expertise being the act of photographing, not so much that of editing.

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Western University

Canada

Minki Kim.

I’m a recent graduate, but, at the age of 26, I’m at a crossroads in terms of having a clear career direction. As such, with post-graduate school applications and job interviews looming over me, I feel a need to develop useful skills and nurture passions that I never fully tapped into.

My best-case scenario at the end of this Internship Seminar is the discovery of a new career path along with obtainable work opportunities. At the minimum, I get to attain tangible skills and international connections. I’m very excited for this opportunity, not only for the program itself, but also for a future more optimistic than the one I had envisioned before being introduced to RGNN.

Although I don’t have formal journalism experience or published works, I enjoy writing in most formats. Whether through social media or course assignments, I’ve always found a therapeutic side to researching interesting subjects and expressing my findings/opinions. This may stem from the fact that I’ve never been a great storyteller or skilled in verbally explaining information to others.

Photography is an art I’ve been interested in ever since my high school art teacher let me use one of the school’s Canon DSLR cameras during the winter holidays. I don’t seek out moments to capture, but at the same time, I never let a moment pass me by.

My research assignments in linguistics involved interviewing members of the senior population of London. My experience with the research, along with my time studying and travelling alone in Spain, has developed into a strong passion for Latino culture, Spanish language, and the new/unknown. Additionally, my experience playing rugby in various countries and meeting athletes from many backgrounds also played into my desire to seek out new experiences.

Havana & Trinidad, Cuba // Travel Journalism & Photography Internship Seminar // July 3-16, 2017.

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Temple University

United States

Katie Bandish.

I am a junior at Temple University studying broadcast journalism. My ultimate goal is travel the world to report on news via TV. However I just accepted an internship position as a radio producer intern. I am the host of a TUTV show called The World at Temple which features international students at Temple. I also volunteer on set of TUTV and have helped with graphics. I moreover have a passion for photography, own my own DSLR and have been taught how to shoot manually.

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University of Iowa

United States

Hans Birhanzel.

My name is Hans Wolfgang Birhanzel and despite my extremely German name, I am a student at the University of Iowa majoring in International Relations and Spanish.
I have been privileged to have the experience of attending film studies classes in Buenos Aires, Argentina, taking with me an in depth knowledge of the importance of the aesthetic in Latin American pop culture and imagery. Since living in Argentina, I’ve always been interested in political iconography and its appearance in street art. Since my obsession with acrylic painting began in middle school, contrast and lighting have been the focal points of my own photography and painting.

While training as a diplomat and marketer in University, I can’t wait to expand my skill set to journalism and photography. I’m very excited to not only be able to meet and learn from the Cuban people but also capture their history through the lens of my camera. I hope to one day have a role in the diplomacy between English and Spanish speaking lands, and I could not ask for a better place to start from than RGNN.

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Cornell University

United States

Stacey Blansky.

My name is Stacey, and I am currently a freshman at SUNY Binghamton in upstate New York. My initial exposure to journalism was during my first year of high school, when I began writing for the school newspaper, the Spartan Spirit Newsletter. I instantly fell in love with the journalistic process. Hearing other peoples’ unique stories and framing them around an informative lens melded well with my social/professional personality type. I continued reporting in Binghamton University when I became a contributing writer for Pipe Dream, the main newspaper distributed on campus.

My experience with journalism definitely outperforms that of photography; however I am an avid learner and enjoy capturing remarkable or scenic moments on camera.

I have a burgeoning passion for the Spanish language and, although I am not fluent in Spanish, hope to get closer to that goal. I anticipate to get immersive practice with the language by speaking to locals and training my lingual proficiency.

One day I hope to pursue a career that involves negotiation and conflict resolution among international parties. Being that I am only 18, I am not sure what I “want to be” per say, but I believe that journalism beneficially informs many of the pragmatic skills necessary to become successful in other careers. Both the mutual interactivity and writing expertise gained through the journalistic practice will be sure to help me achieve my future goals by providing substantial academic lessons.

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Rutgers University

United States

Theodore Bodnar.

Hello, my name is Theodore Bodnar and I am a 21 year old studying at Rutgers University. I am a journalism and media studies major, with a minor in Entrepreneurship. I’ve been studying journalism and media for the past three semesters and hope to one day be very successful within the field. In the past I’ve only had one job relating towards journalism, which was at an architecture firm. Right now some of my goals which I hope to accomplish relatively soon are graduating from Rutgers (hopefully with high honors which I am on pace of), getting another internship for the fall semester, and travel more while I’m still young. My hobbies include chess, Mixed Martial Arts, blogging, traveling, and reading. Some of the skills I currently possess are being a team player, being quite tech savvy, a strong leader, and decision making. All of these skills I have acquired over playing sports, being a camp counselor, working for an architecture firm, and through my parents.

As far as my career goals go, one day I hope to be a sports broadcaster in Ultimate Fighting Championship. When I first started watching UFC about two years ago, I instantly fell in love with it. I don’t think there is anything else in the world like it. Last semester, I started a UFC blog for one of my classes and it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. I started reading and watching everything I could on the sport, and it really translated into my writing. The professor was amazed by how much time and work I was putting in on it and offered me an internship after the class finished.

I am very excited for this opportunity and can’t wait till July!

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John Brown University

United States

Ashley Burger.

I am from Wichita, Kansas and I attend college in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. I am a double major for photography and communications. I work as the photo editor on the school newspaper, “Threefold Advocate.” I run a staff of about 10 photographers, and I often write for the newspaper as well.

My favorite subject to photograph is people. I love capturing the true moments of sadness, love, and joy. Street photography is my favorite because it pushes me to get to know strangers through my photography.

I would love to be a photo editor for a newspaper or magazine in the future (and hopefully traveling can be involved). I have been to France, Israel, and soon Ireland. I use my photography to show readers/viewers the true nature of these beautiful destinations and their citizens. I want to show people what they are missing in order to push them out of their comfort zone.

Traveling – it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller. Just go and live.

Visit Ashley’s blog at https://ashleymarie365.wordpress.com/

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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

United States

Lucy Burnhams.

My name is Lucy, I am currently attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill pursuing an undergraduate degree. I am on track towards an Economics and Mathematics double major and Hispanic Studies minor; however, in my free time I have developed a strong passion for journalism and photography. Working with my high school newspaper for 2 years allowed me to grow my interests from creative writing towards reporting and journalism and since then I have furthered my writing abilities through university and hope to one day have my work published.

Travel journalism is especially interesting to me because a want for exploration has been engrained in me since I was 5. From spending the first years of my childhood growing up in England and Germany, and having the ability to travel often, I stemmed a strong interest and appreciation for different cultures. I constantly find myself itching to travel more and to immerse myself in new languages and traditions. My interest in photography grew out of this interest in travel, I have been practicing photography thoughtfully for around 5 years and have adopted a passion to continually learn everything there is to know about photography. My skills have continued to grow immensely and through social media I am able to share my work to a large audience and get recognized by other photographers.

Going to Cuba will be an amazing experience to further my knowledge in the Spanish language, as well as give me the opportunity to see myself in this field of work. My future career goals are in no way set in stone and I am extremely interested in learning more about travel journalism as a viable career choice in the future.

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Temple University

United States

Yafa Dias.

As a new up-and-coming journalist, I have always been interested in writing news articles and have even won a Keystone Press Award during my sophomore year of college. I am also interested in magazine story telling, photo essays and producing short informative videos. As an undergraduate, I have strengthened my skills in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, iMovie and several more photo and video applications. During my magazine writing class, a passion inside me had risen driving to speak out against skewed media stories. For example, witnessing stereotypes, misrepresentations, sexism and false accusations, by biased media organizations disturbed me to the degree of action. I have decided that if the news outlets that we watch every day will not fact check their stories, then I certainly will.

As a woman of color who identifies as a Palestinian-American, I know firsthand what can happen when journalists drop the ball. In journalism listening to people is key and is a gift that I proudly have kept through my visits to the Middle-East. Honest reporting allows citizens to respect journalists and this is a personal character trait that I hold near and dear to me. Reporting on immigrants, and refugees requires strong journalism skills and even stronger personal traits, I am proud to carry both.

My career goals are the following – one day become a magazine writer for Jadaliyya, a film maker that documents cultural appropriation, and a news producer for Al-Jazeera. I also would like to be a foreign correspondent based in the Middle East.

Lastly, I would also like to create a niche magazine for people of color that have been neglected or dismissed by their own governments and biased media companies. Creating this magazine will shed light on their hardships which is what a journalists should do, listen.

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University of Michigan

Australia

Mattison Ellis.

My name is Mattie Ellis and I am completing a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Marketing & Sales at the University of Michigan. I am currently completing my study abroad exchange program in Sydney, Australia, where I am also working for a non-profit film festival company. I have professional experience with startup development, fundraising, marketing, event planning, and education. My other interests include writing, painting, traveling, and cooking. I am also extremely passionate about animal rights and mental health awareness. Additionally, I studied Spanish for over 10 years across my childhood and am eager to revisit the language.

Growing up in suburban New Jersey, I often found myself daydreaming about other parts of the world. I developed a longing to find out just how big the world really was. This persistent curiosity was evident in my inquisitive personality, or what my parents might have described as never-ending questions. With each year, my wonder expanded and was closely followed by new dreams and even more questions. As I discovered new cultures, communities, and even cuisines, I realized that the world was, in fact, pretty big.

While this life of pursuits continues to unravel, I find myself exploring travel journalism as a way to document my experiences and discoveries around the world. I am excited to develop my journalism work alongside the art of photography, which has always been a hobby of mine.

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University of Michigan

Australia

Jordan Hart.

My longest relationship has been and continues to be with writing. I started writing my first novel at the age of 13 and have continued to write ever since. As I grew up, I realized travel is more than just another activity, it is an experience. I love the power writing has to enable humanity to come together over a shared story, and I love seeing that power used to share experiences from far off lands that not everyone gets to experience.

I am currently studying communication at Palm Beach Atlantic University, a study dedicated to connecting people. While photography is interesting, writing and journalism are my real passions and the skills I hope to hone during this trip. I am adventurous, a natural leader, and curious about the world around me and I have a desire to share what I discover with others through the written word. Another fun fact about me is that I love food, a lot. However, I have a hindrance to my love: allergies. Being allergic to both gluten and dairy certainly puts a damper on my food exploration, yet from that I have developed an even deeper appreciation for food.

Talking, or writing, about food is a natural fit, though it is by no means my only interest. I grew up with a very adventurous mother who worked hard to push me outside my comfort zone with incredible experiences. I have taken her advice and continue to push myself outside of the realm of normal and comfortable to find whatever incredible things lie beyond. I can just as easily write about food as I can about an African safari because in the end, they are both experiences and they both can be a uniting force when shared with the world.

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Pennsylvania State University

United States

Shana-Kay Hart.

My name is Shana-Kay and I am from Kingston, Jamaica. I live in the United States and I am currently a student at Pennsylvania State University studying both Communications and Spanish.

During my spring semester of my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to study abroad in the Dominican Republic. During my time there, I maintained a blog that I now use to document all of my travel experiences and showcase my writing abilities. This is where and how my interest in travel writing developed. In December of 2016, I participated in a two-week program through my university and AUIP in Sydney, Australia. For this trip, I was selected as AUIP’s student blogger which gave me the chance to submit weekly blog posts about the trip as well as photos and an experience video at the end of the study abroad program.

Although I believe I have thorough writing experience, I know I have a lot more to learn and I am excited and grateful for all of the new skills and techniques I will be introduced to through this seminar. Photography is a technique I want to strengthen in order to be able to market this skill for future opportunities.

I am extremely passionate about travelling and have a love for writing. After graduating, I hope to work for a magazine such as Condé Nast Traveler or Afar as a Travel Journalist.

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Soka University

United States

Sophia Laws.

My name is Sophia Laws I am an undergraduate student majoring in International Studies at Soka University of America. I lived, studied and worked in Costa Rica during high school as an exchange student for a year, where I became fluent in Spanish. I have since taken many Latin American history and upper division Spanish courses as well. My passions include hiking, traveling, Latin dance, and of course, writing and photography.

My passion for journalism is tied greatly to my creativity and love for finding and describing beauty in the world around me. My favorite type of photography is often in urban cityscapes, and I love incorporating color into all of my creative pieces. For that reason, I am thrilled to be visiting the beautiful and vibrant island of Cuba. In my writing and photography, I love going off the beaten track, exploring and finding beauty in the less glamorous parts of a city. I can’t wait to challenge myself and see what this amazing experience has to offer!

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Soka University

United States

Jessica Lee.

My name is Jessica Lee, and I’m a sophomore studying international relations at Soka University of America. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I am Korean and Portuguese and speak three languages (Portuguese, English, and Spanish). I inherited a love of photography from my father, and a love from writing from my mother. I want to write about their international love story someday.

I’m a member of the women’s cross-country and track team for my university, an experience that continues to teach me hard but important lessons about dedication and teamwork. I feed my creative side by drawing and painting, a passion I’ve harbored since I can remember. I recently was in the Amazonas region of Brazil with a group of students studying and documenting the universal healthcare system and its effect on the people who use it. I aspire to apply what I’ve learned in my Liberal Arts university as well as personal experiences to work in Fair Trade in Latin America.

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Rutgers University

United States

Crystal Nunoo.

As a kid, I’ve always liked cameras. I liked the idea that they could capture a moment – Freeze time in that sense. I saw that as powerful, even though I didn’t know how to operate them at the time. In high school I started practicing my interest in theatre and the arts that carried into my college life. I liked the idea of telling stories through multiple artistic mediums and translating them as they shifted from one form of medium to the next. Since cameras and writing have always been ways that I liked developing my creativity, along the way I sought out opportunities to push that skill set and strengthen my creative muscles. So I took courses in video, photography, and writing that would help me heighten my knowledge of those skills.

Over the years, I’ve built a connection with nature and animals. The concept of tying in the message of the earth and incorporating that in with my photography and videos are a sincere passion of mine. Whether it be by a pen or through a lens, I aspire to become even more professionally involved with this idea and try to voice the earthly concerns we face now. Through this, I can see a more purposeful way of building a career.

Visit Crystal’s website here: https://crystalnew1.wixsite.com/crystal-nunoo.

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Rutgers University

United States

Julissa Ramirez.

Julissa Ramirez is a second year student at Rutgers University. She has a passion for journalism and hopes to one day travel the world and raise awareness on social injustices.

She grew a passion for journalism her freshman year of high school when she met a journalist who was raising awareness on human trafficking. The woman informed Julissa on her journey as a journalist and explained how she would soon be traveling to India to help survivors. Julissa never forgot about Sonia and will always remember what Sonia taught her about speaking for others.

Julissa has interned for a local newspaper and is currently a contributing writer for College Fashionista. Besides writing on social injustices, Julissa also likes to write about beauty and fashion. Julissa knows that journalism is constantly evolving, which is why she spends much of her time improving on her photography, writing, editing and media skills. Although Julissa is young in the field, she is making sure to be a well rounded student and won’t let anything get in the way of achieving her dreams.

If you would like to learn more about Julissa, you can read her blog at loudmouthjulie.com.

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California State University Bakersfield

United States

Scot Swan.

My name is Scot Swan I have been using cameras for almost 10 years now. I am currently 21 years old. Recently I have been getting into film but I still am drawn to photography because it forces me to capture a moment in just one image. I really enjoy the level of storytelling that can be accomplished with a camera. I get a great deal of enjoyment when I can really convey my thoughts or what someone else is experiencing on camera and be able to share that moment with others.

While this is what led me to photography and eventually film I have taken photography and photo-shop classes both in high school and now in college. I worked for a local politician taking photographs for his office and I now do picture and video production at a local studio in town in my free time. This has been much more than a hobby for me for some time now and I hope to one day make a career using the skills I am developing.

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Northwestern University; Medill School of Journalism

United States

Laura Zornosa.

Laura Zornosa is a multimedia journalist focusing on text, audio, and photography storytelling in the Greater Chicago Area. As a freshman at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, she is currently obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Journalism, as well as a minor in Spanish and an Integrated Marking and Communications certificate.

Current projects include: working as the Special Programming Producer at WNUR News, contributing as a staff writer at North by Northwestern, and supporting the National Association of Hispanic Journalists as an active member.

Outside of the classroom, Laura can be found at Northwestern’s Knight Lab, the newsroom of WNUR News, or catching the next “L” train into the city to report or explore. Future travel journalist, international correspondent, magazine editor or radio producer. Current mural enthusiast, intersectional feminist, and lover of all things pug.