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Student Awards 2019

Cronkite students awards

Announced in 2019

Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award

A Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Report, “Hate in America,” Won the Prestigious 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. It was the fourth RFK Award the school has won — the most of any journalism school in the country.

The package of multimedia stories, a documentary and podcasts examined acts of intolerance, racism and hate crimes across the country. The student journalists found that more than 2.4 million hate crimes were committed across the U.S. between 2012 and 2016, based on an analysis of national crime statistics.

Jacquee Petchel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who serves as executive editor for Carnegie-Knight News21, said the project came at a particularly timely moment, just a year after the Charlottesville, Virginia, protests and clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

“This project was an extremely challenging endeavor in which our student reporters were asked to report nationally on one of the most controversial political topics of our times,” Petchel said. “And yet, inevery encounter and interview, they found ways to tell the story of the oppressed
and the oppressors, no matter how uncomfortable.”

The RFK Journalism Awards program honors outstanding reporting on issues that reflect Kennedy’s passions, including human rights, social justice and the power of individual action in the U.S. and around the world. The winning entries were selected by a panel of judges in several rounds.

"To tell a story truthfully and without bias, sometimes you have to travel to great lengths or to a place that makes you uncomfortable," said Justin Parham, a News21 reporter and ASU graduate student. "As an African American, I never imagined I would interview a member of the Ku Klux Klan. But winning a Robert F. Kennedy Award is a reminder that work around human rights and social justice is important."

Students, accompanied by Petchel, received the award at a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The school also received a $500 prize and a bronze bust of the late senator and U.S. attorney general.

News21, launched in 2005, brings top journalism students from across the country each year to the Cronkite School to work on a national reporting project. Past projects have won numerous national awards for enterprise, explanatory and investigative reporting.

In addition to Parham, the Cronkite students who participated in the “Hate in America” project were Allie Bice, Scott Bourque, Brendan Campbell, Renata Cló, Alexis Egeland, Kianna Gardner, Jimmie Jackson, Ashley Mackey, Angel Mendoza, Connor Leavy Murphy and Danny Smitherman.

Edward R. Murrow Award

The Carnegie-Knight News21 “Hate in America” project also won the Student Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Digital Reporting. It was the third consecutive year a News21 project has won the award and brings to five the total number of student Murrow Awards the Cronkite School has won — the most of any journalism program in the country.

Allie Bice, a Hearst Journalism Foundations fellow who now works for Politico in Washington, D.C., noted that she and other students spent eight months researching, reporting and producing the “Hate in America” project.

“I like to think we channeled the qualities of Murrow in our day-to-day work ethic,” she said. “We were filled with curiosity and determination to dive deeper into this difficult subject. We grappled with incomplete FBI data and traveled across the country to interview victims and perpetrators of hate. It feels great to have our hard work pay off, but we wouldn't have been able to do any of it if it weren't for so many brave sources willing to share their stories with us.”

The 2019 winners were recognized at the Edward R. Murrow Awards black-tie event hosted by the Radio Television Digital News Association in New York City.

Established in 2015, the student awards celebrate excellence in journalism at the collegiate and high school levels. Unlike the professional Edward R. Murrow Awards, which are presented to news organizations, the student Murrows are awarded to individuals in five categories — audio newscast, audio reporting, video newscast, video reporting and digital reporting.

The RTDNA is the world’s largest professional organization exclusively serving the electronic news profession It has been honoring outstanding achievements in professional journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971.

SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards

Cronkite students finished first in the 2018 national Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence competition with 10 awards — more than any other school in the nation.

Students won first place in five categories: online in-depth reporting, television feature reporting, videography, sports photography, and broadcast sports videography as well as five national finalist awards.

In addition, Chris McCrory won “Best in Show” in the national student SPJ competition for a two-part investigative series on abandoned mines in Arizona that appeared in Cronkite News. Photographer Nicole Neri was one of four finalists for the “Best in Show” award for a photo at a sporting event. They were honored at the national SPJ conference in San Antonio, Texas, in September.

Cronkite students have topped the Mark of Excellence Awards program 10 times since 2005 and have won a total of 107 awards. Cronkite holds the record for the most first-place awards in the national competition — a total of 52 — during that same time period.

The school also holds the record for best performance over the past 18 years in the SPJ Region 11 contest, which includes Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands and Nevada. Cronkite students won a total of 47 awards, including 21 first-place awards, in the 2018 regional competition. All first-place winners in regional competitions advanced to the finals.

“We’re especially proud of our students’ performance in this year’s SPJ contest,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “National awards like this prove to our students that they can perform at the highest possible level and that hard work and dedication really do pay off.”

National Winners

Best in Show
Chris McCrory, two-part series on “Abandoned Mines,” Cronkite News

Best in Show Finalist
Nicole Neri, “Ballyard Brawl,” Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska

Broadcast Feature Videography
Matt Lively, “Operation Restoring Hope,” Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Broadcast Sports Videography
Jake Trybulski and Drake Dunaway, “In Arizona, More Navajo Take to the Dirt for Rez Golf,” PBS NewsHour

Online In-Depth Reporting
Chris McCrory, “In a Hole: Arizona Officials Lack Funds to Find, Secure at Least 100,000 Abandoned Mines,” Two-Part Series, Cronkite News

Television Feature Reporting
Samie Gebers, “Art Class Dementia,” Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Sports Photography (Large) 10,000+ Students
Nicole Neri, “Ballyard Brawl Mixes It Up in Haymarket Park,” Photo Published During an Internship at Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska

National Finalists
These Entries Won First in the Region and Were National Finalists:

Best All-Around Television News Magazine
Staff of Cronkite News – Phoenix Sports Bureau, “Cronkite Sports Report: Season 10, Episode 6,” FOX Sports Arizona

Best Independent Online Student Publication
ASU's the State Press

Broadcast News Videography
Lillian Donahue, “Helping With Cleanup After Record Storms,” Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Television Breaking News Reporting
Staff of Cronkite News, “Midterm Election Coverage,” Cronkite News/Arizona PBS

Television In-Depth Reporting
Courtney Mally, Marissa Roper and Maya Patrose, “Concrete Change,” Arizona PBS

Hearst Journalism Awards

Cronkite students shined at the Hearst Journalism Awards, coming in second among 100 schools nationally in the yearlong competition that led up to the national championship finals. Students finished in the top six in all four categories — broadcast, multimedia, writing and photojournalism.

Cronkite has placed in the top 10 in the Hearst Journalism Awards program for 17 consecutive years and has finished in the top five in nine of those years.

Five Cronkite students were selected for the 2018-2019 national championships, which bring together top journalism students from around the country for several days of live competition during which they write, report and produce stories. Cronkite tied with two other schools for the most students in this year’s championship round.

One of the students, Bryce Newberry, a recent Cronkite graduate now at KVUE-TV in Austin, Texas, came in second overall in television broadcast news, winning a total of $8,500 in scholarships. Cronkite students won a total of $18,000 in scholarships during the competition.

The other students and their awards:

  • Matt Lively, a recent graduate who is a weekend sports anchor at 23ABC News in Bakersfield, California, received $5,000 for his third-place finish in television broadcast news.
  • Senior Jack Harris was a finalist in the writing competition, earning a $1,500 scholarship.
  • Senior Nicole Neri was a photojournalism finalist, also winning $1,500.
  • Austin Westfall, a recent graduate who is a multimedia journalist at KERO-TV in Bakersfield, California, was a finalist in the radio broadcast newscategory and earned a $1,500 scholarship.

Students Who Placed in the Monthly Hearst Awards Competitions:

Writing

Personality/Profile
Second: Jack Harris, “Apple of His Eye: Children Inspire Visually Impaired Runner After Lifetime of Heartache”

14th: Ethan Millman, “Interview With a Bluesman”

Enterprise Reporting
Fourth: Chris McCrory, “In a Hole: Arizona Officials Lack Funds to Find, Secure at Least 100,000 Abandoned Mines”

21st: Stephanie Morse, “Will Arizona’s Saguaros Survive Climate Change and Drought?”

Sports Writing
Fourth: Ryan Clarke, “Something in the Water: A High School on the Border and Its Many Successful Athletes”

Feature Writing
Sixth: Aydali Campa, “Border Towns Struggle With Students Who Live in Mexico, Learn in Arizona”

Breaking News
11th: Alexis England, “Flake Votes to Approve Kavanaugh — for Now — Demands an FBI Probe”

Multimedia Journalism

Enterprise Reporting
Fifth: Daria Kadovik, “Young Women Rising Interest in Taxidermy”

News
Sixth: Samie Gebers, "Vegas Stronger"

10th: Rebecca Spiess, “No More Deaths Duels With Border Patrol”

Features
Seventh: Charlene Santiago, Hurricane Maria Multimedia Bilingual Video Stories, Part of the Project “Puerto Rico: Restless and Resilient”

Team/News
Eighth: Claire Cleveland, Carly Henry and Lerman Montoya, “Puerto Rico Universities Grapple With Future After Hurricane Maria”

10th: Cami Clark, Celisse Jones, Chris McCrory and Nicole Neri, “Arizona’s Two Abandoned-Mine Inspectors Face Daunting Task”

Radio News and Features
Third: Austin Westfall, “Vegas Shooting Anniversary” and “Swept Away”

18th: Jordan Elder, “Walk or Rebuild”

Television News
Fourth: Bryce Newberry, “Fentanyl Strips”

Sixth: Gabriella Bachara, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women” and “Customs and Border Patrol”

Television Features
Third: Matt Lively, "Veterans Retreat" and "Blind Football Player"

Ninth: Lillian Donahue, "Honor Flight: Korean War Veterans" and "Hurricane Florence Relief"

Photojournalism

News & Features
11th: Nicole Neri

Picture Story/Series
13th: Nicole Neri

16th: Delia Johnson

BEA Festival of Media Arts Awards

Cronkite students again won the most news division awards in the 2019 national Broadcast Education Association's annual Festival of Media Arts national competition.

Students took home 23 awards in the news, documentary, sports and video categories. It was the ninth time in 10 years that the Cronkite School has finished with the most awards in the news division.

Additionally, Cronkite student Troy Lynch won a Best of Festival King Foundation Award, the competition’s highest honor. His sports package, “Turning Tragedy to Triumph,” was an emotional report about Eric Young Jr., a Los Angeles Angels baseball player whose son died shortly after being born.

Other BEA Winners:

Mixed Pedagogical (Teacher/Student Co-Production)
Best of Competition: Steve Filmer, Bailey Netsch and Juliana Evans, “Science of the Saguaro Cactus,” Catalyst

Television Feature
First: Lillian Donahue, "Honor Flight," Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Matt Lively, "Operation Restoring Hope," Cronkite News

Television Weathercaster
First: Jordan Evans, “Weathercast Reel,” Cronkite News

Third: Lauren Schieler, “Weathercast Reel,” Cronkite News

Long Form Video or Film Documentary
First: Justin Parham and Other Carnegie-Knight News21 Videographers, “American Hate”

TV Sports News Program
First: Terra Pinckley, Hailey Hole, Chaz Frazier and Tyler Paley, “Cronkite Sports Report — Season 10, Episode 6,” Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Scotty Gange and Blaine McCormick, "The House — Episode 8," Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Noah Lau, "The House - Episode 11," Cronkite News

Short Form Video or Film Documentary
Award of Excellence: Jasmine Spearing-Bowen, "Myeloma Rabbit Virus," Catalyst

Television Hard News
Second: Lillian Donahue, “Supai Village Residents Fearful for Their Future,” Cronkite News

Television News Anchor
Third: Bryce Newberry, “Anchor Reel,” Cronkite News

Television Newscast
Third: Hayley Brand, Kevyn Gessner and Acuzena Martinez, “March for Our Lives,” Cronkite News

Radio/TV Sports Event: Play-by-Play Talent
Third: Blaine McCormick, “Play-by-Play Arizona State vs. Colorado Football,” Cronkite News

Television Sports Story/Feature
First: Brooke Coltelli, “Coach Kibler,” Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Jake Trybulski and Drake Dunaway, "Rez Golf," Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Anthony Totri, "ACL Brothers," Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Bailey O'Carroll, "ASU Groundskeeper," Cronkite News

Award of Excellence: Chancellor Johnson, "Basketball Virtuoso," Cronkite News

Television Sports Talent (Anchor/Host)
Award of Excellence: Blaine McCormick, "Fall 2018 Sports Talent Reel"

Award of Excellence: Scotty Gange, "Anchor Reel," Cronkite News •

Rocky Mountain Emmy Student Production Awards

Cronkite students dominated the 2018 regional intercollegiate Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, taking home seven Student Production Awards, the most of any school in the region.

Students have won 49 Student Production Awards since 2009, the region’s best record. The competition, organized by the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, recognizes the best work in television and radio.

The 2018 college student production award winners:

College Arts and Entertainment/Cultural Affairs
Winner: Lillian Donahue, “The Duncan Dancers, a Family Affair,” Cronkite News

College Craft - Talent
Winner: Blaine McCormick, Cronkite News

College Newscast
Winner: Olivia Anderson, Haley Brand, Kevyn Gessner, Alessandra Luckey, Courtney Mally, Azucena Martinez, Demitria Pilatos and Ann Marie Schlup, “Full Circle,” Cronkite News

College News General Assignment Report
Winner: Lillian Donahue, “Aid Groups Caught in Border Battle,” Cronkite News

College Public Affairs/Community Service
Winner: Claire Caulfield, Brandon Kitchin, Jenna Miller, Corinne Roels, Michael M. Santiago, Karl Schneider, Briana Smith, Jasmine Spearing-Bowen, Adrienne St. Clair and Nicole Tyau, “Troubled Water,” Carnegie-Knight News21

College Short Form: Non-Fiction
Winner: Amanda Mason, “Puerto Rico Recovery Six Months After Maria,” Cronkite News

College Sports
Winner: Tyler Paley, “DACA Boxer,” Cronkite News

Additional Awards

Intercollegiate Broadcasting System National Radio Awards

Best Community Volunteer Program/Personality
Winner: Nick White, Veteran Diaries, Blaze Radio

Best Hockey Play-by-Play
Winner: Josh Schaefer, Pac-12 Hockey, Blaze Radio

Best Sports Director
Winner: Braiden Bell, Blaze Radio

Best Sports Talk Program
Winner: Eliav Gabay and Harley Yearout for Gabay &Amp; Yearout, Blaze Radio

Best Women’s Basketball Play-by-Play
Winner: Lyle Goldstein, Stanford vs. Oregon Women’s Pac-12 Championship, Blaze Radio

Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) Award

Student Best in Business Award
Winner: Andres Guerra Luz, “Hurricane Provides Opportunity for Puerto Rico’s Battered Tourism Industry,” part of Cronkite Borderlands Project “Puerto Rico: Restless and Resilient,” Cronkite News

Society of Environmental Journalists Awards Ray Reece “Excellence in Environmental Journalism” Student Award
Winner: Chris McCrory, “Abandoned Mines,” Two-Part Series, Cronkite News

Honorable Mention: Lillian Donahue (Broadcast Reporter) and Christopher Cadeau (Digital Reporter), “Hands, Heart and Feet: Havasupai Children Write Letters Urging Trump to Ban Canyon Mining,” Cronkite News

Honorable Mention: Jenna Miller, “Feeding Change: Puerto Rico’s Push for Food Independence Intertwined With Debate Over Statehood,” Part of Cronkite Borderlands Project “Puerto Rico: Restless and Resilient,” Cronkite News

Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards

Student Reporting: Large
Finalist: Chris McCrory, "Abandoned Mines," Two-Part Series, Cronkite News

Online News Association Journalism Awards

David Teeuwen Student Journalism Award
Winner: Meagan Barbee, Adriana De Alba, Eric Jakows and Jenna Miller "Leaving Tracks: The Capture of Wolf No. 1553," Cronkite News

Pro-Am Student Award
Winner: "Troubled Water," Carnegie-Knight News21

EPPY Awards

Best College/University Investigative/Documentary Report
Winner: "Hate in America," Carnegie-Knight News21

Best College/University News
Finalist: "17 Lives, 17 Minutes," Cronkite News

College Television Awards
Cronkite News Was One of Three National Finalists Nominated in the News Category of the College Television Awards, Presented by the Television Academy in Los Angeles in March 2019.

National Association of Black Journalists Awards

Television Undergraduate – Television Sports Reporting
Winner, Matt Lively, “Blind Brophy Football Player Has Vision for Success,” Cronkite News

Digital Media – Graduate – Best Use of Multimedia – Special Project
Winner, “Hate in America,” Carnegie-Knight News21

National Association of Hispanic Journalists Awards

Latino Issues – Tv/Online Video Journalism (Professional Category)
Finalist Charlene Santiago (Video Producer), “Study Puts Hurricane Maria’s Death Toll at More Than 4,600; Some Residents Still Struggle With Power,” Cronkite News

Latino Issues – Student Print/Digital Journalism
Two Finalists: Chris McCrory (Reporter) and Nicole Neri (Photographer), “Footsteps Into America: A Migrant’s Journey of Struggle, Hope and the Unknown,” Cronkite News

Asian American Journalists Association Awards

Student Journalism (General)
Winner: Cronkite Borderlands Project, “Puerto Rico: Restless and Resilient,” Cronkite News

Association of Food Journalists Awards

Best Writing on Food, Student Division
Second: Tayler Brown, “Native American Farmers Plan Moves to Global Market, Greater Sustainability,” Cronkite News

Maggie Awards

Best Student Publications — Best Print Publication
Finalist: State Press Magazine

Best Student Publications — Best Print Cover
Finalist: State Press Magazine

Webby Awards

Advertising, Media & Pr: Student
Honoree: "Puerto Rico: Restless &Amp; Resilient," Cronkite Borderlands Project, Cronkite News

Best of the West Awards

Business and Financial Reporting (Professional Category)
Third: Derek Hall, “For Crew of 2,100-Passenger Cruise Ship, Frenetic ‘Turnaround Day’ in Seattle Starts and Ends the Journey,” the Seattle Times

Arizona Press Club Awards

Professional Categories:

Community Health Reporting
Third: Claire Cleveland, “Pregnant and Addicted,” Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Community Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award
Second: Megan Janetsky, “Passage Prevented: Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Delicate Wildlife Habitat,” Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Spanish-Language News Reporting
Third: Charlene Santiago, Hurricane Maria Multimedia Bilingual Stories, Part of the Project “Puerto Rico: Restless and Resilient,” Cronkite Noticias

Spanish-Language Feature Reporting
Third: Mia Armstrong and Miranda Cyr, “Activistas Al Poder,” Cronkite Noticias

Spanish-Language Commentary/Analysis
Third: Charlene Santiago, “Hija Y Periodista, Lo Que Me Enseñó El Huracán María Desde La Diaspora,” Cronkite Noticias

Statewide Education Reporting
Third: Johanna Huckeba, “ASU Professor Teaches in the Dark as Students in Puerto Rico Wait for Light,” the State Press

Statewide Immigration Reporting
Second: Chris McCrory, “Footsteps Into America: A Migrant’s Journey of Struggle, Hope and the Unknown,” Cronkite News

Statewide Public Service Journalism
Second: Chris McCrory, Two-Part Series on Arizona Abandoned Mines, Cronkite News

Statewide Nina Mason Pulliam Environmental Journalism Award
Third: Megan Janetsky, “Passage Prevented: Trump’s Border Wall Threatens Delicate Wildlife Habitat,” Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Statewide Sports Investigative Reporting
Second: Nate Fain, Daniel Perle and Veronica Graff, “I’m Losing Those Memories: Ex-Cardinals Among Thousands in Concussion Suit,” Special Report for the Arizona Republic

Student Categories

Investigative Reporting
First: Kianna Gardner, “Social Media: Where Voices of Hate Find a Place to Preach,” Carnegie-Knight News21

Second: Mia Armstrong, “ASU Uses Mandatory Reporting to Fight Sexual Misconduct on Campus,” the State Press

Third: Isaac Windes, “The Elephant in the Room,” the State Press

Student News Reporting
First: Corey Hawk, “Grand Canyon Gap: Arizona National Parks Need $531 Million to Fix Roads, Buildings,” Cronkite News

Second: Rebecca Spiess, “No More Deaths Duels With Border Patrol Over Water and Food Drops for Migrants,” Cronkite News

Third: Kailey Broussard, Amy-Xiaoshi DePaola, Harrison Mantas and Lindsay Walker, “Challenge to Law Could Redefine Native American Foster Care, Adoptions,” Cronkite News

Student Features Reporting
First: Lillian Donahue, “Full Circle: Urban Native American Family Keeps Apache Traditions Alive Through Hoop Dancing,” Cronkite News

Second: Karishma Albal and Maya Shrikant, “Why Do Some Labs Drown in Funding While Others Dry Up?” the State Press

Third: Johanna Huckeba, “ASU Professor Teaches in the Dark as Students in Puerto Rico Wait for Light,” the State Press •

Sports Photographer Badders Wins Crowder Photojournalism Award

Cronkite senior Nicholas Badders traces his interest in photography to an admiration for his father, who was always snapping photos from the sidelines of his school soccer games to share with other parents.

“I always thought that was cool of him,” said Badders, of Livermore, California. “And looking back, I am so grateful he did.”

These days, Badders is the one behind the camera, shooting everything from baseball to bull riding. His pictures won the 2019 Greg Crowder Memorial Photojournalism Award.

The award was created by the Cronkite School to honor Greg Crowder, a 1980 ASU alumnus and longtime photojournalist at The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. After Crowder’s 2005 death, his parents established the award and endowment to honor his life and spirit. The first award was presented in 2010.

Badders brought his father’s used superzoom point-and-shoot camera with him to ASU. Shooting baseball games during his freshman year, he became friends with Brady Klain, a fellow student interested in sports photography. The two would reactivate the photo department at the Walter Cronkite Sports Network, a student organization.

Over the past two years, Badders photographed more than a dozen ASU sports and more than 100 games. His photos appeared on the Walter Cronkite Sports Network website, on social media platforms and on the Sun Devil Athletics website and social media.

“To capture an athlete in motion and make it a still frame in memory is fascinating to me,” Badders said. “I know how much I liked having photos of myself when I played sports. To be able to save those moments for others is special.”

Covering college football was the most challenging, he said. He knew baseball and soccer well, but had to learn the nuances of the game of football and get used to so many players in motion. In January, he learned something else that was new: how to photograph a professional bull riding competition.

“I had no idea how a bull riding event ran. I was learning on the fly,” he said. One of his winning Crowder photos was from that event.

Badders said his father was emotional when he heard about the Crowder award; the two bond over photography. He credits two Cronkite faculty instructors — Joe Camporeale and Roy Dabner — with helping him turn an interest in photography into a passion.

Badders hopes to become the voice of a professional baseball team and sees his photography as important to that work. For the past two summers, he has called baseball games for the Elizabethton Twins, a Tennessee minor league team for the Minnesota Twins, and the Sonoma Stompers, an independent team in California’s grape and wine country.

“It’s more than being able to do the play-by-play,” Badders said. “You have to be able to write and also engage fans on social media before, during and after games.”

By taking photos of players during batting practice and warm-ups, he gets to know players better, which improves his commentary when he calls a game. The players appreciate the shots, and he has additional content for social media.

“These days, no team will hire you solely for your broadcasting skills,” he said. “The other things you can do are just as much, if not more, important.”

Badders’ winning photos are on exhibit on the third floor of the Cronkite School during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Cronkite Students Win Fulbrights to Study in Germany and Mexico

Three 2019 graduates of the Cronkite School are recipients of prestigious Fulbright awards to study and work abroad.

Rebecca Spiess and Jakob Wastek will be in Germany, and Mia Armstrong will be in Mexico during the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the government’s flagship international educational exchange initiative, sending students, teachers, professionals and scholars to study, teach, lecture and conduct research in more than 155 countries. The program was created in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.

“It’s very unusual for three students from one school to be selected for this highly competitive program — in fact, we don’t know of another time it has happened,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. The school has had a total of four other Fulbright award winners in the past decade.

The three recipients all graduated in May with summa cum laude honors from Cronkite and Barrett, the Honors College. They will join 21 other ASU students who were named Fulbrights for the 2019-2020 academic year. ASU is among the top schools in the country for Fulbright scholars.

Cronkite’s winners took different paths to become Fulbrights, and will pursue different goals for their year abroad:

Mia Armstrong: Teaching English and Storytelling in Mexico

Armstrong, who graduated with dual degrees in journalism and global studies, previously interned at the State Department in Madrid, Spain, at the U.S. House of Representatives, and at Slate Magazine. She also worked for The State Press, ASU’s independent student news organization, and taught writing and journalism to Arizona prison inmates.

She recently won a national contest to accompany New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof on a reporting trip to Guatemala and Paraguay.

Armstrong said she wanted to study international relations even before she knew she wanted to be a journalist. She plans a career combining the two.

She will be based at la Universidad Autónoma del Carmen in Campeche, Mexico, where she will teach English. She also will work on a community storytelling project.

Rebecca Spiess: Research and Reporting in Berlin

Spiess is spending nine months in the Young Journalists Program based in Berlin, working half the year on immigration research followed by an internship at a German news organization.

Spiess, who has dual U.S. and Swiss citizenship, lived in the German-speaking part of Switzerland until she was 6. Her brother and father still live there, and she visits often. She grew up in Prescott with her mother and stepfather.

At Cronkite, she reported stories along the U.S.-Mexico border for Cronkite News. During her Fulbright year, she plans to continue focusing on immigration issues, studying how Germany is coping with shifting demographics. She will conduct in-depth interviews with residents of the Neukölln district of Berlin, which has a large immigrant population from the Middle East and Africa.

Jakob Wastek: Teaching in Germany

Wastek, a Scottsdale native who studied broadcast journalism, video production and editing at the Cronkite School, will be teaching English in the Rheinland-Pfalz area of Germany.

As a student, Wastek gravitated toward stories about social, political and technological change. The summer after his sophomore year, he studied social identity during a Fulbright UK Summer Institute in Dundee, Scotland. That experience fueled his desire for a full year as a Fulbright.

Wastek has studied the German language for eight years and has relatives who live in the country. After his Fulbright year, he plans to work as a video producer on longer-form news videos and documentaries.

The Fulbright fellowship “will help me by giving me a better perspective of the world, while also allowing me to better determine what type of video production I want to do,” he said.

Mia Armstrong Reports From Guatemala and Paraguay With New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof

A 2019 Cronkite graduate turned her attention to impoverished women and families in Guatemala and Paraguay when she accompanied a New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist on a reporting trip there in late May.
In a series of articles for the Times’ website, Armstrong reported on maternal and child health, women’s education, malnutrition and the push and pull factors of migration.

“Traveling with Nicholas Kristof on his win-a-trip contest is the most valuable experience I’ve had as a journalist,” Armstrong said. “I learned how to immerse myself in a new environment and pursue stories relentlessly but with compassion. Over the course of eight days, we heard tragic stories, but we also heard hopeful ones. I will hold on to the hopeful ones.”

In Guatemala, after she and Kristof witnessed stunning levels of malnutrition, she wrote an article describing how breast-feeding is transforming the lives of some children in areas with unsafe water and insufficient food.

In an opinion column, she reported that 85% of cervical cancer deaths are in low- and middle-income countries and questioned why, as cervical cancer is among the most treatable forms of cancer.

After meeting a young woman about her age (but a mother of three and a widow), Armstrong wrote a passionate personal column, “Two Women, Divided by Opportunity.” She concluded that circumstances of birth may be a lottery, but we all have a responsibility to help level the playing field for the underprivileged.

Other Cronkite student Fulbrights in the past decade:

2016-2017: Elizabeth Blackburn, Kazakhstan
Blackburn remained in the region, doing volunteer work in education and women’s rights in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. She recently returned to the Cronkite School where she works with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.

2014-2015: Kyle Renick, Taiwan
Renick is a writer and teacher in Los Angeles.

2012-2013: Dustin Volz, Indonesia
Volz is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal covering cybersecurity
and intelligence.

2011-2012: Lauren Gambino, United Kingdom
Gambino won the Fulbright-Alistair Cooke Award in Journalism for graduate studies at the University of the Arts, London; she is a political correspondent based in Washington for The Guardian.