Student Profiles

Literary Reportage 2019

Jenna Barnett ( is a multimedia journalist with roots in south Texas. She fell in love with literary journalism in San Diego as a Peace Writer for the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice’s Women Peacemakers Program, where she had the opportunity to author the story of Namibian human rights activist and torture survivor Pauline Dempers. When that fellowship wrapped up, she stayed in California to manage the International Rescue Committee’s large urban gardens, composed of growers from nearly 20 different countries.

An editor and writer for Sojourners, she reported on clergy abuse, criminal justice reform, and gender inequality within the church, earning accolades from the Religious News Association and Folio Awards. Jenna loves pickup basketball and taking her time in board games.

Susanne Beck ( grew up in the suburbs north of New York from which she happily moved on – to college and graduate school, followed by a meandering professional path that included stints with the US Forest Service (Idaho and Alaska), the US House of Representatives, investment banking, management consulting, and non-profit leadership. Many would consider such a trajectory random. Susanne always couched it as a mind rarely at rest.

The most recent stop on Susanne’s professional journey was the Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University, including additional coursework at the School of Journalism where she successfully weighted the age curve of every class she attended. Her biggest take aways from the year on Morningside Heights: 1) she should have gone to journalism school years ago; 2) the Heights don’t compare to Astor Place.

Susanne hopes that her NYU professors and fellow classmates will be able to channel her irrepressible curiosity and taste for the lives of the un(dis)covered into something informative if not entertaining for readers at large. At the least she hopes that her new contemporaries won’t accuse her of the same infraction her children often allege: “Mom, you are overstepping your boundaries.”

Karol Cichocki ( was born in New York City and raised in Bialystok, a city in eastern Poland. He spent the past 10 years in Warsaw, where he graduated from Collegium Civitas with B.A. from Journalism and Political Science. As a journalist in Poland, he has worked for different media outlets (including news channel and several magazines). Karol is fascinated with the effect of art (especially novels, poetry, music, theater) on societies and political systems. In his free time, he wanders, reads, and visits his favorite bookstores.

Nate File ( grew up in New Jersey and thinks its reputation is mostly fair. While he was at Yale University, the school’s 2015 public reckoning with its structural racism became a formative moment for his identity and interests. He still found time for the Davenport Donut Club, a sketch comedy group and the club basketball team though.

He was not always set on journalism. Originally, he planned to go to law school, following an internship with the Bronx Defenders and two years working as a paralegal at a boutique civil rights firm in Manhattan. But he realized he missed writing and creative expression too much to consign himself to the legal world. He’s excited to explore a lot of topics in his writing, but especially race, culture and how they interact with music, sports and politics. He loves Megan Thee Stallion’s new album, his dog Russell, and NBA free agency rumors.

Kimon de Greef ( is a freelance journalist from South Africa. He studied conservation biology at the University of Cape Town, researched abalone smuggling for a master’s thesis, and began writing features in 2013. Since then he has reported on illegal mining, baboon-human conflict, corruption in fisheries, fossil shark tooth collectors and luxury golf estates; his first book, also on abalone poaching, came out in 2018. He has a longstanding interest in conservation conflict and illicit trades, especially where these intersect with issues of social justice. He obsessively reads nonfiction, loves interviewing people, collects music and spends too much time on the internet.

Meghan Gunn ( graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2017, then set off to the island of Borneo on a Fulbright to work with brilliant yet underserved students. She is passionate about equal opportunity for disadvantaged youth and women’s empowerment programming. Although she’s always been an avid reader and recreational writer, she discovered the true power of stories while working in Borneo. While there, she received grants from the U.S. Embassy to publish a book of student work and organize a national women’s leadership summit where young female students could share their stories. She’s been published in Wash U and Cornell literary journals, and received scholarships from the St. Louis Press Club and the South Asian Journalism Association. She enjoys finding home in unfamiliar places, dislikes being too comfortable, and believes life’s too short to match socks. In her free time, you can find her at a hot yoga studio, rollerblading, or in her hammock eating avocados. She is currently unreachable, working in a rural Alaskan village with native youth.

Alexander Jusdanis studied music theory and composition at Brown University. This led him to Morocco on a Fulbright fellowship, where he conducted research on a once-suppressed practice of spirit possession that is transforming into pop music. After that, he worked as an editor at a Moroccan news outlet, and then moved to New Orleans to sell poetry on the street. His work has been published at The Outline, Dissent, Asymptote, and elsewhere.

Divya Karthikeyan ( grew up in a quiet neighbourhood in Chennai, India, a city she has a complicated relationship with. She knew she wanted to be a journalist as early as 11 years old and studied her undergraduate in journalism in Chennai, where she learnt she wasn’t very good at group projects. She also learnt that the subject was her calling. After a diploma in Broadcast Journalism, she discovered television journalism wasn’t her cup of tea and neither was New Delhi, which is touted as the hub of Indian journalism. She returned to her home city and discovered her love for independent journalism, writing for various Indian and international publications, including Deutsche Welle, CNN International, Washington Post, China Global Television Network and The Guardian. Since then, she has continued to haggle with editors to publish her longform journalism in publications that don’t have enough space for it. When she isn’t working on stories, you’ll find her writing poetry in a cafe, trying to meditate, or squinting while reading Granta magazine on her phone.

Maria Alexa Kavanaugh ( grew up between the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Colorado’s San Juan mountains. Ultimately she considers the American Southwest her home. After studying poetry and media theory at Pitzer College, she decided to return to New Mexico and teach herself the nuts and bolts of broadcast journalism. This led to an infatuation with audio reporting and a news-casting gig at her local radio station. Since then she has helped launch several podcasts and spent a year working in the Arts and Entertainment department of Southern California Public Radio. When she wasn’t helping produce interviews on film, music, and television, she was blogging about intersectional feminism for Marialexa also happens to be a licensed NYC tour-guide. She could talk your ear off about early Long Island history and the best craft breweries in Western Queens!

Edith Rousselot ( was born in Clermont-Ferrand, a small city located in the French countryside. After completing high school, she moved to Lille where she received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Université Lille II. In addition to her major, Edith pursued a concentration in Journalism at Ecole Supérieure de Journalisme de Lille. Following the successful completion of her bachelor’s degree with honors, she relocated to Bordeaux where she fulfilled the requirements of the first year of the 2-year master’s degree in journalism of the Institut de Journalisme Bordeaux Aquitaine. While studying, she worked in the reportage division of France Inter and France Bleu. There, she was given the opportunity to cover political, cultural and social events, such as the opening ceremony of the Paris Opera season, the evolution of the work code in French overseas territories or, recently, the violent “Yellow Vests” crisis. Furthermore, Edith co-created The News World Tour, a weekly podcast that analyzes news overlooked by the mainstream media.

Literary Reportage 2018

Felicity Cain (aka “Flick”) was born in New York and spent the first 10 years of her life bouncing between living in Connecticut and London – an experience that left her with a warm feeling of home in two countries and a faded accent most often mistaken for a speech impediment. Fresh out of the University of Michigan, Felicity has a B.A. Sociology, with minors in Writing and Environment (naturally). With nothing published and no relevant work experience, she is excited to delve into the world of journalism. Felicity deeply enjoys sarcasm, everything bagels, and laughing in uncomfortable situations. She can be found on twitter @shutupflick.

Mycah Hazel ( was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she started out writing diary entries and fan fiction she never posted online. Starting college at a majority-white university at the peak of the 2014 #BlackLivesMatter protests, Mycah experienced renewed racial self-awareness but increasingly lost her black card for not knowing what hip-hop songs were popular throughout her college years. She found solace writing about how identity shapes creation and reception of policies in the political realm and art in the entertainment industry. Her work on identity’s intersection with politics, film, education and more has been featured on HuffPost, the Establishment, TRT World and VocaLady Magazine, an online feminist magazine she co-edited throughout college. She has received her Bachelor’s degree in History and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. Mycah also enjoys writing fiction, bike riding and buying concert tickets she cannot afford.

Søren Steensig Jakobsen was born and raised in Herning, a boring, provincial town in Denmark. Perhaps due to the tranquility of his childhood scene, he soon turned his attention to the more abstract. The puzzles of existence and what not. These speculative inclinations led him to undertake a Bachelor’s in Philosophy. When a professor dismissed existentialism as “teenage philosophy”, Søren knew that he would never pursue a career in philosophy. Upon graduation, he worked nearly two years as a caregiver to mentally and physically disabled, while working on applications for Master’s programmes, biographies on NBA-legends, and a coffee-table book on the history of philosophy. His main interests include pretentious literature and cinema, basketball, snowboarding, nachos, the meaning of life, and tentatively trying to discern the correlations between these pillars of human life.

Ryan Krause ( began his journey in an overwhelmingly suburban and homogenous town in the mid-Atlantic. Never quite feeling at home in these surroundings, he fled west as soon as he was able. He spent his undergraduate years at the University of California, Davis, where he excelled in the acquisition of life experience. After earning his degree, Ryan set up shop in the liberal bubble that is San Francisco, working– naturally– for a tech company. Last year, in an effort to contribute his voice to the positive public discourse, especially given the current political climate, he decided to return to his original passions for storytelling and social justice by pursuing a career as a journalist. Through his work, Ryan hopes to amplify underrepresented voices, especially of those in the LGBTQ+ community. Ryan’s other interests include lounging in parks, yoga, and napping at inappropriate times. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanKKrause and Instagram @Krausehause.

Robyn Lanz was born and raised in the sparsely populated and often mispronounced province of Saskatchewan, Canada. She attended the University of Regina and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Anthropology. During her undergraduate studies Robyn developed an interest in exploring religious life through the lens of intersectional feminism and postcolonial theory, and the role of religion in contemporary global politics. Having always been politically-minded, Robyn instinctively sought ways to transform her theoretical interests into practical methods for creating positive change in her community. After graduating she became heavily involved in local political activism and quickly landed a job in provincial politics. For the better part of two years Robyn worked for the Official Opposition of Saskatchewan as a Communications Officer with a focus in digital media. In that position she learned a little about writing and a lot about public policy, but now feels ready to move onto new endeavors that may finally afford her the opportunity to write and get published using her own name. When Robyn isn’t working or campaigning, she enjoys biking, baking, and spending time with her partner and two dogs. You can contact her at or check out a carefully curated glimpse of her life on IG @robyn_lanz.

Savannah Lucas was born in the bustling African metropolis of Johannesburg. The complexity of culture inherent in this melting pot of urbanity fascinated Savannah and she knew from an early age that she would always want to communicate the complexity of human experience through whichever medium available to her at the time. A love of documenting thoughts through film and a talent in theatre direction evolved into an immense pleasure in writing and research. Savannah moved to Cape Town to do her Bachelor of Arts in English and Psychology and went on to do an honours degree in English Literature. Her research interests have focused on pan-African Literature, music and alternative methods of publishing. Drawn to where the unofficial thrive, she moved back to Johannesburg to work for the maverick publishing company Jacana Media, most recently heading up their self-publishing imprint. Her podcast, Interns’ Insider 2 Publishing looks at the publishing industry in South Africa. New York offers a whole new palette of opportunity.

Kaitlyn Nicholas started things off by growing up in a small town north of Missoula, Montana. There she developed a talent for swimming in very cold water, meandering up peaks, and making spaghetti for ten. After earning an undergraduate degree in English Writing from Montana State University, she went on to work for a library, where she designed a science and arts center for teenagers. The job required her to use and repair all sorts of technology, which developed her fascination in diverse storytelling methods. Kaitlyn (who also goes by Kayt) is interested in refugees and global immigration, particularly the language societies use about them and how that language has shifted and continues to change over time. She is also interested in ice cream of all kinds, beekeeping, and hopes to one day knit a fisherman’s sweater.

Sevindj Nurkiyazova is a journalist from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. At 15, she graduated from high school, ranking #1 in the National Testing. While studying Business Administration in American University of Central Asia, she took classes in journalism and devoured foreign magazines, dreaming, one day, to explore real-life stories of people around her. After graduation, to make her dream come true, she sold her car and her soul — and co-founded Gedonist magazine (later transformed into In the following years, Sevindj wrote, produced, and edited several hundred pieces (in Russian), talking to all sorts of people, from an ex-president (in exile) to ex-cons. With time, the pieces grew longer and longer, the reporting — deeper and deeper, until, last summer, she found herself living in a tiny mountain village 250 miles from home, once again — to learn what it is like to be someone else. Nothing fascinates her more than the stories of other people… Except for random facts that she loves pouring on every poor soul in sight — like why blood is red, shit is brown and how these facts are interrelated. Some random facts about Sevindj herself: She learned reading at the age of 2.5 and read 419 books in the last five years (mostly, non-fiction and science fiction). In 2018, she came fifth in a local climbing championship (out of six contenders). She studied French and Japanese for three years, but it left nothing more than the skill to roll the r’s and an endless pool of random facts about Japan. During her 23rd skydive, she got stuck in the air for 37 minutes, setting Kazakhstan’s record (accidentally).

Jason Stavers has wandered through a variety of professional occupations, including but not limited to financial analyst, management consultant, attorney, and for one brief but glorious winter, ski instructor. Through these changes of title, the work he liked most was learning about new things and then writing about them. Eventually—some might say belatedly—it occurred to him that he could shed the white-collar accoutrements and do just the learning and writing parts. Jason’s previous writing has been published mainly in federal court filings and obscure trade publications, on such captivating topics as CERCLA and 28 U.S.C. § 1782. He has no web site and his Twitter account is dormant, but you can follow his IG @jasonstavers for pictures of his outlandishly adorable dog.

Elizabeth Weissberg graduated from Yale University, where she focused on applied ethics and majored in philosophy. After graduation, she worked at a refugee resettlement agency through AmeriCorps. Next, she taught literature, poetry, American Studies, British Studies, and business English at the Chinese University of Hong Kong while on a Yale-China fellowship. Thereafter, she taught and tutored her way through Yunnan, Zhejiang, Japan, and Southeast Asia, all in all spending five years abroad. Her interests include positive psychology, anthropology, systems science, and pop music, and she is conversational in Japanese and Mandarin. Currently, Elizabeth is working on a book about travel and grief.

Literary Reportage 2017

Jerad W. Alexander began his writing career as a U.S. Marine infantryman and combat correspondent, covering defense and foreign policy adventures and misadventures in the United States, East Africa and Iraq. Since leaving the Marines, Jerad has received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from American Military University where he focused on postwar American literature. Jerad has published fiction and nonfiction on politics, history, American culture, literature, and war with Pithead Chapel, As You Were, The Blue Falcon Review, Military Experience and the Arts, Narratively, Ozy, Esquire and Rolling Stone. His novella The Life of Ling Ling was a finalist in the 2012 Serena Kennedy McDonald Prize, and his essay “On Our Next Stop in Modern War” was a finalist in Narrative Magazine’s 2013 Spring Story Contest against literary luminaries Robert Bausch and the late Joe David Bellamy. Jerad is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Nately’s Magazine. A list of his works with links can be found at

Benjamin Ethan Brandstein was born in Los Angeles, California. He moved to New York City after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College with a B.A in Literature and Creative Writing. During his undergraduate studies, Ben was so inspired by the works of Dante Alighieri that he lived in Florence, Italy for one year in order to read The Divine Comedy in its original language. There he studied (and is now fluent in) Italian, classical guitar, and anthropology. Since then he has worked for The Strand Bookstore, The Paris Review, Macmillan Publishing, Tony Bennett, and Sterling Publishing. He currently teaches Method Writing, a seasonal eight-week writing course in Manhattan, and is the director of Poetry in Motion, a monthly poetry salon.

Daniel James Cashmere. Most recently from Chicago, DJ Cashmere has also spent time living and studying in New Jersey, Northern Virginia, Germany, Southern California, and England. For the last seven years, DJ has been serving as a teacher at one of the country’s most transformative inner city high schools, where he created a social justice-focused literacy program and became deeply interested in liberation-based pedagogy and education reform. Over the last few years, DJ has also been researching and writing his first book, Every Single Day, a year-in-the-life exploration of his students and colleagues. DJ holds a B.A. in Theatre and an M.A. in Teaching, and is also a graduate of the Second City’s Conservatory and Music Programs. His interests include mindfulness, industry disruption, national politics, theatre, and baseball.

Neel Dhanesha ( grew up in both India and America and has lost track of the number of houses he’s lived in. He has been telling stories for as long as he can remember, though he likes to think his technique has become at least a little more polished in recent years. He studied International Relations and Journalism at Boston University and now lives in (and often writes about and photographs) New York.

Tracy J. Gates has Midwestern roots, a New England childhood, and a Brooklyn mailing address. Graduating from Smith College with a degree in Sociology, she moved to New York City to learn the craft of children’s book editing and how to survive as an outdoors woman in an indoors city. Addicted to athletic activities and adventures, she started a blog and has written about sailing across the Atlantic on a leaky catamaran, getting lost on her mountain bike in the Badlands, and searching for the sport of squash in Mongolia. She’s always been interested in women’s relationship to sports and physical activity and looks for stories that will inspire as well as entertain.

A children’s book publishing veteran, Tracy commutes around the city by bike and is always on the lookout for the best taco and beer pairing.

Spencer Green grew up in Texas, graduated from Grinnell College with a B.A. in English, and has since lived in Louisiana and North Carolina. After many years organizing and working with anti-poverty agencies, he is beginning a project documenting the ways communities are using cooperative economics to resist capitalism–particularly in communities or industries where cooperatives are not commonly found. He is a regular contributor for the Ploughshares blog, has written movie reviews for Bloody Good Horror, and co-created What, Like It’s Hard?, a podcast that documents creative collaboration. He is an avid reader and movie lover, and is currently preoccupied with the ideal joint custody arrangement for his two dogs (a two year old pit bull and a fourteen year old lab) between New York and his boyfriend’s home in North Carolina.

Maham Hasan ( was born and raised in the heart of Punjab, Pakistan as an army brat, ran free at a British school in Saudi Arabia during her early teen years, finished high school and began college at the capital of Oman, and finally graduated a proud Badger and cheese head at UW-Madison, WI in 2016. Despite growing up in a culture that promotes nothing but STEM careers as the only ones worth pursuing and being the first child of a surgeon, Maham has always had an endless appreciation for any and every form of the creative arts. Being tone deaf and unable to draw even a cat, she always came back to words and the stories you tell with them. She was the literature columnist, concert and theater reviewer for “The Daily Cardinal,” one of the oldest student run daily newspapers in the country, for the entire length of her undergraduate career. She also sat on the editorial board of two student run magazines, “Journal of Undergraduate International Studies” and “Illumination – Essays, Art, Poetry” while working as a closet tech expert on campus. Maham used her Psychology major to be involved with research labs that studied discrimination, prejudice and group norms and eventually plans on pursuing her other major of Philosophy into a PhD that she can teach college kids with. She hopes, if that day ever comes, her Literary Reportage training will help her write about the perils of Utilitarianism in a way that makes Philosophy accessible. But ask her that in two years and perhaps the dream of being a Professor will be one of reaching people with nonfiction essays instead, or both. Since graduating, Maham dipped her toe into the corporate world of desk jobs and immediately vowed never to be so foolish again. Contact her at to hear her gush about returning to the world of academia that she loves endlessly and loves to hate gleefully.

Madysen Luebke was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in American Studies in 2016. Moving to New York, she became everyone’s sole Nebraskan friend, and the only New Yorker her family had ever met. This began her journey to connect these two worlds as an undercover insider. When she’s not reading something by Dostoevsky or attempting to mollify political discussions on Facebook, she is interviewing dancers and choreographers on her podcast, The Conscious Movers, practicing any of the six random languages she has studied, or eating too much lox and acting as a concierge to the LES while working at Russ & Daughters.

Charlotte Norman was born and raised in Hong Kong, and grew up in a Chinese/British family. She has loved reading since she was young and her mother used to reprimand her for reading in cars (“It’ll wreck your eyes”). After studying English Literature at Skidmore College, she moved to Beijing where she stayed for 4 years. She worked a number of jobs, most memorably at an education company that was accused of academic fraud. In her free time, she likes reading and trying new food.

Ngozi Nwangwa was born and raised in Arlington Heights, IL. She goes by the name Shirley, unless you can pronounce her name correctly (she doubts it). Her parents are Nigerian immigrants who moved to the U.S. before having Shirley and her three sisters. She’s queer and proud of it and writes about her intersectional identity, though mostly behind closed doors. Shirley was most recently a chemist in Madison, WI but has always wanted a career telling stories and connecting marginalized people through words and imagery. Shirley has acted in three plays; one while as an undergraduate and two as part of Madison Shakespeare Company. She has a cat named Chicken and listens to podcasts that educate her, enliven her and make her cry laughing. Her first and only published piece will be coming out in July for Our Lives, the local queer magazine in Madison.

Karen Sims ( (who also goes by Suqi) was born and raised in Taichung, Taiwan to a Floridian father and a Taiwanese mother. She grew up eating cornbread with chopsticks and celebrating Chinese festivals with Southern recipes. Probably because she could never quite grasp it, she likes to explore themes of cultural identity and social belonging in her writing. After graduating from the American School in Taichung, she attended Davidson College in North Carolina, where she developed a love for local microbrews and published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in Exit 30 and Atlantis. She has since moved back to Taiwan for a year, in part to reconnect with her roots, but mainly to eat cheap, delicious street food and to hang out with her parents’ dogs, Niu Niu and Biggie. In her spare time, she writes for a local bilingual food and travel magazine and messes about on her poetry blog:

Upon realizing “book reader” was not an official career, Rainesford Stauffer set her heart on writing in elementary school and has been chasing stories ever since. She’s written about gap years for Forbes, Trump and sexual harassment for The Hill, and has been published by USA TODAY College, HuffPost, and Zouch Magazine, among others. Rainesford embraced her Kentucky twang enough to speak about education in interviews with the Successful Dropout podcast and HashtagVOA, and during TEDx events in Kansas City and Seattle. Mostly, she’s a believer in the power of great stories. Rainesford plans to explore ideas of student voice within the education system, girlhood in a world of online It Girls, and the juxtaposition of learning and education. She has a B.A. from The New School, an affinity for yoga, and a weird knack for injecting movie quotes into conversation. You can reach Rainesford via Twitter (@Rainesford) or email (

Literary Reportage 2016

Samuel Argyle ( is a 2016 Temple University Graduate of Distinction earning a B.A. in Religion with a minor in Psychology. His thesis titled Biblical Prophets and Their Relationship with the Political Establishment won Temple’s Theodorius R. Gunkenhausen Award for best undergraduate essay in Jewish Studies. His other academic papers cover topics such as gender and hermeneutical analysis of religious texts. Sam began his journalism career in Tokyo, Japan at The Japan Times. This experience abroad furthered his interest in international journalism and politics, specifically religion’s role in globalization. An avid reader of art and literary magazines, Sam also has a passion for music (including an expansive vinyl and CD collection).

Andres Begue ( graduated in 2013 from Fordham University, studying philosophy and anthropology. He grew up in New Orleans where he returned to live and work after graduation. His interest and introduction to journalism stem from literary theory, documentary filmmaking, and political philosophy. He likes to read and watch movies and TV; hopefully he will write more. With a lifelong fanaticism for sports, he looks to delve into how sports interacts with and impacts a person and community, dictating an understanding of identity and personhood.

Elizabeth Cantrell ( got her start as a journalist in Burlington, Vermont. She has written about all kinds of creative folks and quirky characters, from vintage jewelry restorers and silk-screen t-shirt artists, to honky-tonk crooners and multi-lingual hip-hop performers, to underdog political candidates and Ironman competitors. Liz has also journeyed to the Mayan temples and wet jungles of Belize, trekked to a village in the high-elevation mountains of Lesotho, and hiked and camped her way around the United States. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2013 with a B.A. in Political Science. Liz is a national park nut, iced coffee enthusiast, and West Wing devotee. You can read her work and follow her adventures at

Natalie Coleman ( graduated in 2016 with degrees in journalism and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati, where she served as news editor and reporter for the independent student newspaper. She has reported on the lives of homeless women and children in Cincinnati, the rise of campus sexual assault, and the changing landscape of campus policing. As an editorial intern at The Wall Street Journal Custom Studios, she continued to write about women, this time within the context of financial inclusion. At NYU, she plans to continue reporting the narratives of homeless and disenfranchised women, as well as explore new possibilities with audio reporting. When she’s not writing, you can find her brewing coffee, taking film photos, or practicing her Italian. Her website is and she tweets at @_nataliecoleman.

J. Oliver Conroy ( graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where he earned a BA with Joint Honours in Political Science and History, and also spent time as a visiting student at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). He lives and works in New York.

On a backpacking trip up the east coast of Africa, Laura Lee Huttenbach met an 87-year-old man in Kenya who told her a story so wonderful she wound up moving to his family’s tea farm on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya to hear more. The Boy is Gone: Conversations with a Mau Mau General—published by Ohio University Press in June 2015—is the result of their collaboration and Laura Lee’s first book. An Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Virginia, Laura Lee is excited to keep learning—from professors and classmates at NYU, and from the giant classroom that is New York City. Her website is

Marina Koslock ( was born in the capital city of Manitoba, Canada. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Winnipeg, in Rhetoric, Writing and Communications. Marina has worked the last three years in Toronto, managing the content for a national hockey charity, as well as working as the Arts & Culture Editor at a start-up magazine in the city. She first discovered New Journalism through her undergraduate mentor, Dr. Robert Byrnes, who introduced her to Didion, Wolfe, and Capote, opening her mind to this fantastic new type of journalism. Her thesis project, inspired by both her parents’ closed case adoptions, will explore the true life stories of adoptees, biological parents, and the children within the system.

Anaka Kaundinya ( is a ‘big city’ girl of South Indian lineage, who grew up with a wide-eyed amazement for wildlife, theatre and classical dance. In high school she was a cultural exchange student twice around, living with families in Japan and the United States. With somewhat parallel careers as a dancer/actor/voice-over artiste, Anaka became a partner at a non-profit collective called ‘Dear Imagination’ that focused on the arts education of underprivileged children. In 2014, Anaka graduated with a degree in law from Government Law College, Mumbai. Over the next two years, she worked on an assortment of films (ads, shorts, documentaries), continued as a voice-over artiste and produced/directed ‘Island Of Magic’, a 30-minute documentary about the success of a low-income classroom. Somewhere in the middle of this hullabaloo (perhaps because of it), Anaka’s fascination for and love of film, non-fiction and writing began to develop.

Ula Kulpa ( graduated from the University of Chicago in 2015. She is interested in history, criminal justice, thunderstorms, red bell peppers, and dogs.

Melissa Pinel ( was born in Panama just a few days after the U.S Invasion. She started her career as a journalist when she was eighteen and her work has varied from writing about the new wave of Panamanian cuisine to doing a feature length piece on the first transgender woman to obtain a legal name change in the country. She is especially passionate about learning the ins and outs of producing podcasts. Her interest, besides reading and writing, include photography and traveling. During her time at NYU, she plans to write about homelessness in America and about how people deal (or don’t) with the death of the ones they love.
Brooke Darrah Shuman ( is a multimedia producer based in Brooklyn, NY. Her video work has appeared in Bon Appetit magazine, Garden & Gun magazine, the Southern Foodways Alliance and screened at Farm Aid 2015. Her radio work has aired on WNYC’s Studio360. She is a graduate of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Her work focuses on agriculture, rural development food culture and food systems.

Ryan Sweikert ( is a reporter and independent radio producer from upstate New York. He cut his investigative reporting teeth profiling a spree killer and researching an in-depth project on the impact a large factory closure had on a small town. Recently, he has been working mostly in audio, work that has had him hitchhiking across the country, digging into the opiate epidemic, and exploring the internal world of a troubled artist, respectively. He hopes to continue working with audio at NYU, while mastering the art of long form reporting. You can hear some of his work on his PRX page.

Morgan Sykes ( graduated from Brevard College in 2012 with a BA in Religious Studies and English. She hails from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, North Carolina where she balances her bookworm proclivities with really long mountain bike rides in Pisgah National Forest. She is interested in religious experience, subcultures, hip hop, the context of identity, and eating Middle Eastern food as frequently as possible.

Jacqueline Traore ( is captivated by vivid storytelling. Born in Brussels, with roots in Mali and France, she’s been moving periodically since she was a couple months old. Having spent a large part of her life starting anew in contexts often very different from her own, she’s particularly interested in documenting the lives of individuals who have had to tiptoe around multiple worlds, navigate between multiple cultural identities. At NYU, she plans to write on issues surrounding immigration, integration, and intercultural dialogue, with a specific focus on the lived experiences of the African diaspora. She graduated from McGill University in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science and International Development.

Tara Yarlagadda ( originally hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. She got her start as a journalist on her high school newspaper, which sparked a lifelong passion for writing. After graduating with a B.A in Political Science and South & Southeast Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 2014, Tara moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked to support grassroots campaigns at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. While at NYU, she plans to unite her twin interests of social justice and reportage to write in-depth pieces on human rights issues, with a specific focus on immigrants and their unique stories. When not writing, Tara enjoys snacking on Nutella and exploring off the beaten path destinations. Some of her favorite nonfiction books include Wild, Voices from Chernobyl, and Beautiful Thing. Find her on Twitter at @TaraYarla.

Literary Reportage 2015

Emma Eisenberg’s articles, essays and fiction have appeared in The New Republic, Salon, Slate, The Rumpus, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gulf Coast, and other publications. She holds a B.A. from Haverford College and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Virginia.

Kate Essig is native of St. Louis with an interest in writing about social justice, urban issues and spirituality. While at Saint Louis University, Kate worked in the newsroom of St. Louis Public Radio, for Sauce Magazine (a local food and beverage publication), as a blogger for and as an editor of SLU’s OneWorld Social Justice Magazine. Upon graduation, Kate spent a year teaching English in Denver through the Alum Service Corps, a Jesuit service program. She’s written about how social media helps and hurts student activism, failed baking adventures, low wages for fast food workers and a Tibetan refugee named Tashi Tsomo who wears pink Converse top-siders. You can find her work at

Olivia Florencia graduated in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in 2010 with a major in Journalism. She moved to São Paulo in 2011 and worked in Folha de S.Paulo, Correio Braziliense and Globo (newspapers and website). She has written about lifestyle, culture and technology, and wants to write about politics. It’s her first time living in the USA and she hopes to learn and write a lot at NYU besides creating a good impression of Brazilians, of course.

Carson Frame graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011 with a B.A. in English Literature and International Studies. While in college, she covered local news and politics for WMNF, Tampa Bay’s community radio station. In 2012, she joined AmeriCorps NCCC, a team-based national service organization, and interned at the Albany Free School, which promotes inquiry-based learning and community creation. Carson is fascinated by the process of self-making, especially as it occurs in contexts of social isolation or saturation. She’s both troubled and enthralled by America’s transhumanist urges, as well as the more general, aggressive drive for self-improvement. Carson has written articles and art reviews for Creative Loafing, Chronogram, Metroland, and the Albany Visitors Bureau. She’s the fiction editor for Driftwood Press, an independently published literary magazine.

Zachary Leja received a B.A. in Religion and History from the University of Rochester. Crucial to his growth and education is the time he spent in India, where he volunteered with Mobile Creches, a local ngo, working with pregnant women, new mothers, and their children in the greater Delhi area. He is interested in religion’s dual nature as an instrument of unification and alienation, as well as the role of religion in immigrant families and communities. He hopes to explore these topics further in the Religious Studies/Journalism program at NYU.

Mathew Rodriguez is a queer, Latino, New York city-based journalist, essayist and activist. He is the community editor for, where he writes and edits articles about HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C treatment and prevention. His work has appeared in Slate, The Advocate, Modern Loss, Refinery29, San Diego LGBT Weekly, The Huffington Post and the International Business Times. His essay, “We Must End PrEP Segregation” was featured in the GLAAD Media Award-winning collection “30 Days of PrEP.” He has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential youth in America by POZ Magazine, one of the top 10 most captivating voices in HIV by HIV Equal, and one of 2014’s Top 10 Game-Changers by Mused Magazine. He likes female rappers and is particularly interested in how our bodies dictate how we operate socially, economically, sexually and politically. You can follow him on Twitter at @mathewrodriguez.

Sarah “Aziza” Shihadah’s passion for words extends to nearly every form of writing—aside from the personal bio. But here it goes. A life-long nomad, Sarah has lived and worked in half a dozen countries, and has been fortunate enough to travel through over two dozen others. Raised on both sides of the Atlantic by a Palestinian father and German-American mother, Sarah’s interest in the interplay of religious, cultural, linguistic, and political legacies springs from deep personal roots. Sarah is thrilled to be joining the Lit Rep program where her love of research will combine with her passion for beautiful prose. Sarah graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies, and spent the 2014-2015 year as a Fulbright Fellow in Amman, Jordan.

Sarah Stodder, a Bay Area native, received her B.A. in Government from Georgetown University. Primed for a life of abstracts and Stata, she set out to conduct research on disaster management as a 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka. When a series of random events landed her an interview with a former member of the Tamil Tigers, she decided to give journalism a try. Two years and many menial jobs later, she’s written about old houses and school integration schemes for San Francisco magazine and chronicled a displacement camp funeral for The Caravan. She’s fascinated with how family heritage is preserved and shed, and she hopes to explore this at NYU by working on the story of a very old house in Rhode Island.

Nancy Wu graduated in 2014 from Indiana University Bloomington with a B.A. in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing, Philosophy and Political Science, and a minor in Chinese. At Indiana University, she wrote opinion columns for the school paper, Indiana Daily Student, and explored various forms of creative writing. She was born in the icy city of Harbin, China (where she conveniently learned to figure skate), and moved to Vancouver, Canada when she was seven. At NYU, she hopes to strengthen her skills as a writer through developing more personalized long-form narrative pieces.

Literary Reportage 2014

Victoria Beale is a journalist who has worked in the UK, Canada and the US. Her most recent reporting project was a story about ten and eleven year old boys tried on conspiracy to murder charges in rural Washington state, for Buzzfeed Longform. David Grann described the article as “Deeply reported, disturbing, important,” and it was chosen as one of The New Yorker’s Weekend Reads. Since graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in English Lit she has written for the New Republic on phone hacking and the London riots, for the Economist on Rebecca West and Greek cinema, as well as for the Guardian on Newcastle, bad literary marriages, and watching the same film every day for a year. She’s also reviewed books for the Financial Times, Independent, and New York Times. For the last year she has been a research assistant to Patrick Radden Keefe, working on background for his articles about mining corruption in Guinea, marijuana legalisation in Washington and Colorado, and more recently pieces on insider trading in New York hedge funds as well as Swiss banks and offshore accounts.

Alex Brokaw received his B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Emory University in 2011. Following school he helped run a literary journal before taking work as a copywriter. Then, after someone asked him if he wouldn’t mind writing a few articles, he began as a financial reporter. The work was enjoyable, and he continued as a reporter on and off for the next two years, covering areas such as agribusiness, global trade, and emerging economies. Somewhere along the line he ran across digital currencies, didn’t pay too much attention, and then, months later came back around. He’s been building his coverage of the emerging space ever since. He’s particularly interested in the impact of the technology behind digital currencies to things that do and don’t have to do with money.

Jaspal Chana is a recent graduate of the University of Durham with a degree in Theology & Religion. During this time he has spent a year living in Sweden, interned at an English language newspaper in Dubai, written a number of commentary pieces for the university newspaper and featured as a fortnightly columnist on a student website writing about the artistic value of various aspects of popular culture. Through his studies he has become particularly interested in the role of religion in the American political system as well as the relationship between personal identity, nation and culture, which he hopes to explore through the religion/journalism program at NYU.

Søren Steensig Jakobsen was born on the flatlands of Central Jutland, in Herning, Denmark, hometown of Bjarne Riis, winner of the 1996 Tour de France. As an adolescent in primary school, he was presented with a, very basic, account of Plato’s dualism, and ever since, he has been intrigued by troublesome questions, like “what is real?”, and the teenage-evergreen “what is the meaning of life?” Ten years later, upon the realization that academic philosophy was more concerned with strict, formal thinking in old, dusty offices, and less with drug-induced existential epiphanies in backstage areas of avant garde rock shows, he chose to focus on the strictly irregular incidents, known as human life, hoping that individual insight might produce wisdom of world-wide relevance. In his two gap years, he has published a few articles on various topics, besides organizing, editing and writing a philosophical coffee-table book, due for publication in the winter of 2017. At NYU, his main interest will be of biographical and existential character, looking to chronicle the lives lived of humans of every kind, beginning with Austrian philosopher and eccentric extraordinaire, Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is quite certain that the answers to existence lie in the pluralism of human experience. If not, the solutions must be intertwined with listening to jazz played on brass and/or perfecting a basketball jumpshot, both leads he thoroughly investigates in his spare time.

Michelle Kim is a native of South Korea and has worked at the Seoul bureau of Thomson Reuters for the past year. She wrote a number of features on North Korea, especially on the regime’s human rights abuse and the reunion of war-torn families. While interviewing North Korean defectors, she found the lighter conversations they shared just as intriguing as their harrowing accounts of midnight escapes and prison camp atrocities. Their hopes for marriage and family, what school life was like in a democratic society and the new dreams they cultivated—these topics were not shocking news items, but added personality to each of their tales. So during her time at NYU, she hopes to bond with North Korean defectors who may be living in the New York area and write longer, detailed narratives of each individual’s experience. Michelle earned a B.A. in International Studies from Ewha Womans University in 2013, with concentrations in Diplomacy and Asian Studies. She loves the smell of old library books and reading her favorite novels over and over again.

With roots in Washington, D.C. and Stuttgart, Germany, Natalie Lampert has traveled and written her way through thirty countries. Despite this, she still struggles using chopsticks. Natalie received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Elon University in 2011. She has worked in a variety of writing environments, including as a reporter for an Austrian newspaper, as managing editor of her college’s literary journal, and as an intern at a publishing house in Sri Lanka. As a 2012-2013 Fulbright scholar in Sri Lanka, Natalie taught contemporary literature at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She works during summer months for National Geographic, leading student expeditions focused on creative writing and photography. At NYU, she plans to write about meditation and its practitioners, exploring the juxtaposition of insight meditation’s increasing popularity in urban epicenters such as New York City and the rise of Buddhist extremism in South Asia.

Hannah McCarthy is a graduate of Bennington College, where she earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Theatre. After completing her thesis work on Brecht and the power of the theatrical event, she became interested in community ritual and the theatrics of religious worship. Writing for the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, Hannah explored the peculiar rites of the insular year-round community of artists, business owners and fisherman. She spent the following year travelling the U.S. in a beat-up white 2001 Odyssey (named Hal), researching religion and the desire for community across generations and geographies. In the late nights and wee morning hours between farming, fundraising for a couple of non-profits and working as a film producer, Hannah has written about these various microcosms. She intends to continue this work while at NYU, concentrating the shifting liturgical landscape of a spiritually displaced younger generation.

Raella Rayside spent her entire life building her dance career. She loved the idea of evoking emotion with nothing but her body, and tirelessly studied technique and body conditioning to become an expert at it. She started at NYU as a dance major, but under her parent’s insistence and her conscience’s pleas for something more stable she wandered into an introductory journalism class. It wasn’t until her second year that she discovered the art of literary journalism. She was enthralled by the ideas of long-form narrative and the personal essay, and quickly realized that she had a gift for storytelling on paper as well. Raella graduated in 2013 from NYU with a BFA in dance and a BA in journalism. She is excited to continue honing her craft as a writer and a narrator and can’t wait to put pen to paper again.

Renee Saleh studied modern literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz, a concentration that encouraged her study of the literature produced by socially and economically depoliticized ethnic groups. She became increasingly interested in the manifestation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here in the United States, and particularly in the microcosm of New York City. She maintains an open-minded curiosity about the essence of identity and stubbornness inherent to a conflict such as this one, and hopes to eventually write long-form pieces regarding her own identity and relationship to the conflict. Post 9/11 Islamophobia is another interest of hers, as she plans to use that concept as one of many lenses under which she will parse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since graduation, she has had experience working with a couple different non profits, both of which were socio-political by nature and have solidified her desire to combine her love of the written word with greater social issues that have heavily impacted her own world view.

Lindsey Smith struggles to flip pancakes, fried eggs, and other flat things in pans. She can’t dance to save her life, and should stay away from singing in public, for everyone’s sake. Despite these deficits, she graduated from Stanford University in 2011 with a BA in Italian and English: Creative Writing. In 2008-2009, she went to Lecce, Italy as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, where she studied sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, and (bewilderingly) Spanish at the Università del Salento. There, “in the heel of the boot,” Lindsey was first exposed to the complicated interplay between organized crime and social norms, a relationship that has fascinated her since and will anchor her research at NYU. After graduating, she worked in venture philanthropy in the Bay Area, vetting, selecting, and coaching a portfolio of start-up nonprofits. During that time, she also wrote on topics from family, to football, to books, for literary and philanthropic publications including, most recently, Narrative Magazine. As always, she is eager to learn and do so much more.

In 1986 Giulia Alexandra Smythies was conceived in a small flat in the center of London. For six months prior to her conception, her starving parents had subsisted on nothing but small packets of jaffa cakes. Their baby was born fat and curly-headed, with an unquenchable thirst for chocolate. They named her Giulia, after an Alpine mountain range in Italy, the country of their birth. Without realising it, Giulia grew up confused about her identity. Not only did she speak three languages, have two passports, and live in Alabama, Italy, Seattle, and Germany, but nobody could actually pronounce her name. In 2012 her search for meaning led her to Aboriginal Australia where she connected with Mundanara Bayles and her elders, Lilla Watson and Mary Graham. In a speech given at the 1985 United Nations Decade for Women Conference in Nairobi, Lilla Watson is famous for saying, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us walk together.” Giulia believes that a society is only as healthy as its sickest member and that as long as there is injustice for some, there will be suffering by all. She is at NYU to learn the art of creating change.

Cleuci de Oliveira hails from Brasilia, Brazil. She earned a B.S. in Studio Art at NYU and followed it up with an M.A. in History of Art at University College London. After working in the UK arts sector for several years, Cleuci made a career change into journalism. She has written for print and online publications in her native Brazil. Currently, she works for, both as a moderator for its Writers’ Workshop and as a reporter for the more recent Personal Experience features. In the process, she has interviewed, among others, a Russian mail-order bride, the survivor of an end-times Christian cult and a woman with a neurological condition that prevents her from recognizing faces.

Maggie Whitehead spent the past four years in Baltimore, Maryland working for the International Rescue Committee as a caseworker for newly arrived refugees. While serving a wide refugee client base, she worked closely with trauma victims and wrote individual histories to secure disability status for refugees with psychosomatic conditions. Prior to refugee resettlement, she lived in Tamil Nadu with a dozen mischievous teenage boys, who taught her bad Indian manners and the convoluted nature of English phonetics. Despite years of communicating mainly with limited English speakers, Maggie hopes to regain her vocabulary and put it to use. She is eager to unite her passions for writing and advocacy at NYU, and plans to focus her work around the successes and trials of human migration.

Literary Reportage 2013

Elizabeth Flock <> is a journalist with a deep interest in social issues and foreign news reporting. She has worked at the Washington Post, where she reported on the Arab Spring and authored a foreign breaking news blog, U.S. News & World Report, where she covered the 2012 election and social issues under the Obama administration, and Forbes India Magazine, where she investigated the Gates Foundation’s HIV/AIDs work in India and the collapse of the world’s largest art fund. Elizabeth is also passionate about documentary film. She recently graduated from the Documentary Institute at George Washington University, where she made the film “Leaving Sharpe,” about D.C.’s decision to close a special needs public school. She holds a B.A. from Boston College in English and a certificate from the Film and Television Academy in Prague. She hails from Chicago, where her work has been published in the Chicago Tribune and the University of Chicago Magazine and where from hometown writer and film critic Roger Ebert she learned the importance of humanity in all writing.

Meryl Kremer <> is an impulsive narrator with a fondness for fiction and poetic irony. She grew up in Albany, NY, but spent the last four years in Amish country, earning a B.A. in religious studies at Franklin & Marshall College. Her work experience has provided her insight into the dynamics of bagging groceries, teaching mono-skiing, selling cigars, changing diapers, providing emergency medical support, catering dinner parties and interacting with the elderly. On her own time she often reads, fluctuating between feeling enamored and dejected by the plethora of perfect sentences and stories already in existence. At NYU, she plans to write about what she loves: American spirituality as it manifests within a modern, metropolitan setting. You can find her work at

Alistair Mackay <> is a writer with roots in London and Sydney. Having studied history and journalism as an undergraduate at NYU, he has now been in New York for five years and currently lives in Brooklyn. His research has covered topics ranging from the history of the liberal movement in African American politics to the treatment of yellow fever in early 20th century New Orleans. For the past year, Alistair has worked as a researcher and office manager on the upcoming PBS documentary series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, airing in October 2013. He has also worked for Channel 4 News in London and writes extensively on the New York stand up comedy scene. While at NYU for a second time, he hopes to write about the history and future of the medical management of pedophilia in the United States.

Kate Newman’s <> first published work was the poem “Worms,” printed by Sesame Street Magazine in 1991. Since then, she has lived, worked, and studied in North and West Africa, Europe, South Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She is a former Watson Fellow and winner of National Geographic Traveler’s Next Great Storyteller Award. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Bard College and an M.A. in International Affairs from Australian National University. In addition to writing, she edits translations for the magazine Suelta and the digital publishing house Traviesa. Kate is pursuing the joint Religion/Journalism concentration at NYU.

Lance Richardson <> is a nomadic writer who has spent the past few years working for Australian press in far-flung corners of the world. Building on a Bachelor of Social Sciences (English and Anthropology, Honors I) from the University of Sydney, he has written about topics ranging from cultural sustainability in Lake Turkana, Kenya, to the origins of hip-hop in the Bronx. Along the way he has been stalked by a bear, attended an exorcism, worn a dishdasha, and nearly drowned in bentonite mud. His work appears regularly in outlets such as The Sydney Morning Herald The Australian Financial Review, The Age, and Australian GQ. Over the next few years he will be focusing on the battle between hunting and wildlife conservation in Wyoming and Montana. He is also a photographer.

Laura Smith <>, Laura Smith is a native of Washington D.C. and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a B.A. in English Literature. After college, she researched and wrote the history of a Montessori school and then founded a restaurant, Yola, which she operated and managed for 2 years. After closing the restaurant in 2012, she spent the last year working in Burma and Vietnam for two environmental organizations, while also traveling throughout Southeast Asia and doing freelance writing for Pearson and Splice Today. Her work has appeared in the Washingtonian, Bourgeon Magazine, Splice Today, and Jazz Times. For fun, she writes fiction, which she releases in series on her blog:

Colin Warren-Hicks <>, grew up in North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in English. He worked as a staff writer and as the theater critic for the university’s newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. After graduating, he has been an adjunct scholar for Lapham’s Quarterly, as well as being published in the Encyclopedia of Environmetrics. While at NYU, Colin plans to study and write about New York City’s infrastructure—its nuts and bolts, and its people.

Meghan White <> recently earned her B.A. from Northwestern University where she completed majors in Anthropology and Middle East Languages and Civilizations. Los Angeles-born and Houston-raised, Meghan has taken every possible opportunity to travel, studying and volunteering in places including Chile, Guatemala and South Africa. While at Northwestern, her interest in Arabic and the Middle East led her to work at an archaeological site in Israel and study in Jordan, where she consequently developed a severe distaste for American store-bought hummus. Most recently, Meghan traveled to London to research a Muslim women’s empowerment organization and completed a senior honors thesis on the program’s role in identity development for Muslim women living in post-9/11 Britain. When not waiting in line for cronuts, Meghan will spend her time at NYU using her passion for photography and background in fieldwork to bring an anthropological approach to storytelling, focusing her work on Muslim-American identity in post-9/11 New York.

Literary Reportage 2012

Taylor Beck is a scientist-traveler turned journalist from Richmond, Virginia, whose family hails from the lumber town of Chapman, Alabama. Taylor has worked as a teacher in rural Japan, a dream researcher and translator in Kyoto, a memory researcher in St. Louis and Princeton, a science reporter for the Harvard Gazette, a park maintenance tech on the James River, and a house painter in Richmond. He has just completed a one-year masters of science degree in Science Writing at MIT, and is keen now to turn his writer’s eye to topics beyond the lab.

Johnny Bontemps holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA. He was born in Besançon, France, and grew up in the nearby small town of Pontarlier. He moved to the US at age 17, and has since worked a variety of jobs–in several research labs, in a health food store, as a behavior therapist for children with autism, among others. While at NYU he will be writing about science and culture. One topic he’d like to explore in depth is the biological phenomenon dubbed the “season-of-birth effect”–or the idea that the season in which we’re born may influence our health and behavior later in life.

Though Kelsey Kudak is a Minnesota native, she has a Guatemalan heart. She began translating for medical missions in the Guatemalan highlands at age seventeen, and after more than fifteen teams, decided to call the country home in 2010. Since then, she has taught high school English, ballet, and contemporary dance in Guatemala City. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with a B.A. in English and dance, and minors in mass communication and art. During college, she was an opinion columnist for the Minnesota Daily and completed a book-length thesis examining the intricacies of the coffee supply chain. Using grants, she met coffee producers along the Guatemalan-Mexican border, picked and processed coffee by hand, and witnessed the enthusiasm of traders and graders. Inspired by her undergraduate research and her life in Guatemala, Kelsey plans to focus her writing on issues of immigration while at NYU. When she isn’t writing or grading papers, she does her crosswords in black ink, and enjoys salsa dancing, the smell of fall air, and a good cup of sustainably grown coffee.

Corrie Mitchell is a recent graduate from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA where she earned a B.A. in English with a concentration in journalism. She served as the news editor for the university’s official student-run weekly newspaper, The Captain’s Log, in which she published articles of interest to student readers. Examples of her work include an investigation of students’ illegal sale and use of Adderall during exams and a profile of one Lost Boy of Sudan who fled his war-torn country to the United States where he enrolled as a student at CNU. During her time at NYU, Corrie plans to write on the topic of religious life in the city.

Nicole Pasulka grew up just outside Chicago, lived in Brooklyn for about a decade, and drove across the US two and a half times last year. She’s the 2012 recipient of the Nation Institute’s I.F. Stone Award and a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism. Her most recent project investigates police harassment of transgender women. Her work has been published in The Believer, Mother Jones, The Globe and Mail, The Rumpus, and Salon. Most recently, she was the Social Media Fellow at Mother Jones magazine.

Nandini Ramachandran is fondest of books and puns. She grew up in Bangalore and graduated law school in 2009. Since then, she has been a copywriter, a consultant, a researcher, a blogger and an occasional essayist. One day she hopes to add ‘novelist’ to that ragtag résumé. While at NYU she will be writing about the varieties of urban experience. She can be found online as chaosbogey.

Amelia Schonbek has written about the Quebec student movement, the Harper government’s cuts to First Nations programs, and poverty among elderly artists. Until recently she lived in Montreal, where she was an editor at Maisonneuve, an award-winning general-interest quarterly. While at NYU she will be writing about policing.

After graduating from the University of Dayton with dual degrees in English and Adolescent to Young Adult Education, Molly Socha has held an array of occupations. She worked in the REO management division of a law firm in Chicago, Illinois; coached and taught high school English and language arts to urban, low-income students in a rural environment outside of Houston, Texas; and filled the role of grant writer, teacher, recruiter, and event planner for a Catholic, all-girls school in Chicago, Illinois. Along with these various jobs, she has written irregularly for as the Chicago, Post-College life Examiner. Molly looks forward to advancing her career as a writer through her studies at NYU and will be focusing her writing on literature of the past and present and the human response to it.

Aaron Woerner started his fieldwork in 2008 in the valley of Lo in Upper Mustang, Nepal, researching pre-Buddhist mythology surrounding anthropomorphized geography. Shortly thereafter, he spent a summer following the trail of Drukpa nomads in Sichuan Province, PRC while outrunning police on the high mountain roads. After graduating from Guilford College with a BA in Religious Studies and English Literature, he spent two months in West Africa, starting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and ending in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. During this time, he lived with the former child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s defeated army, and witnessed the early stages of the AQIM takeover of Timbuktu and northern Mali. During his time at NYU, Aaron hopes to advance his writing ability, while maintaining a heavy focus on field-work, both in the city and internationally.

Amanda Waldroupe is an award-winning journalist and writer from Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared in the Oregonian, The Lund Report, the city’s street newspaper, Street Root, and a variety of other weeklies and monthlies. She’s watched a heroin addict shoot up, sat through a cheese making class, covered the 2011 and 2012 Oregon legislative sessions and has written about state Medicaid reforms and the development of the state’s health insurance exchange, but has never written about coffee or bikes. She studied documentary writing at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and has a B.A. in philosophy from Reed College.

Literary Reportage 2011

Sean Patrick Cooper will be writing about the New York music business and urban tennis communities while at NYU. His work has appeared in The Millions, The Rumpus, 3 Quarks Daily, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Pop Matters, & other places too. He is online @

Michelle Dean is a recovering attorney whose wrting has appeared at The Awl, Bitch, The American Prospect and The Rumpus. A Canadian Air Force brat, she moved a lot and doesn’t really feel like she’s “from” anywhere too specific. But she has most recently called Montréal, Toronto, and Brooklyn home. Michelle holds undergraduate and law degrees from McGill University. She will soon also hold an L.L.M. from the University of Toronto. While at NYU she plans to produce a series of reported pieces about the sordid business of lawyering.

Will Hunt is writing about humanity’s deep-rooted, irrational relationship with caves, catacombs, tunnels and other mysterious spaces underground and out of sight. The project is based on a year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship during which he traveled to 13 countries around the world, exploring subterranean spaces and documenting the myths and legends attached to them. He has contributed to DISCOVER, Outside, Men’s Journal and Rolling Stone. Born in Providence, RI, he has a B.A. in English and Portuguese from Middlebury College. He lives aboveground in Brooklyn. Find him online at

Aaron Labaree studied English at Oberlin College. Since then, he has worked in publishing, editing, and politics. He plans to write about education reform while at NYU.

Natalie Levine, originally from a small mining town in northern Ontario, currently lives in Toronto. Although she left the Canadian North for Toronto before she was a year old, she still contends that the snow, the cold, and the hockey games played on the frozen lake behind her house (watched from her crib, of course), left a permanent imprint on her life. She’s not yet sure whether it was the early thrust out of, and into, two very different landscapes, or the more likely culprit of being raised with the neuroticism inherent in any Jewish upbringing, that forged her fascination with the forces that shape us and the means by which we come to terms with the decisions we make. Either way, it was that very fascination that led her to NYU, where she intends to write about the lengths and risks we all seem willing to take when finding (or creating) meaning in our lives is involved.

Per Liljas has for the past four years only been back in his native Sweden during the light, (comparatively) warm summers. The rest of this time, when not daydreaming about pickled herring, he has spent freelancing for Swedish publications from Latin America, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. During his time at NYU he will be writing about poverty reduction programs in New York. He has a B.A. in Social Anthropology and can be found online at

Simen Saetre is a citizen of Oslo, Norway. He has worked for several Norwegian newspapers, but has since 2004 been a staff reporter at the cultural weekly Morgenbladet. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from the City College of New York, and a M.A. in European Journalism Studies from Cardiff University. He has written three nonfiction books: Den lille stygge sjokoladeboka (2004), Hugo (2006) and Petromania (2009).

Cody Upton has written about banned art, wastewater treatment in north Brooklyn, and land-use disputes in the coastal ranges of Santa Barbara, California, where he grew up. He studied history and architecture at Columbia University, and has lived in New York since 2001. At NYU he hopes to explore the interface between nature and the city.

Matthew Wolfe will be writing about deviance and its correction, with a particular focus on inmate re-entry . He recently moved back to New York after spending 18 months in Detroit. He has B.A. in art history from Columbia University and has worked as a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Brooklyn; an associate editor for a federal policy newsletter in Washington, DC; an copy editor for a oil and gas trade publication; and a video store clerk. His writing has appeared in The Nation, the Detroit Metrotimes, In These Times and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Shawn Nicole Wong is from Los Angeles, California where she most recently worked as an urban planning consultant and film/video producer. In 2009, she graduated from the College of Environmental Design at the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Urban Studies. She has written for Venice Magazine and interned at Community Redevelopment Agency – Los Angeles and ABC News 20/20 and Primetime. Shawn is also a board member of the Asian American Journalists Association, Los Angeles.

Literary Reportage 2010

Khristopher J. Brooks is a veteran education journalist from Wayne County, Michigan who began his journalism career in 2000. Voted as one of the nation’s best beat bloggers, Brooks is a former Associated Press writer, and has had his byline published in newspapers and magazines across the country. Before entering graduate school, Brooks worked as the state higher education reporter for the Omaha World-Herald and the higher education reporter for the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. Brooks has received countless hours of training in education writing, research and policy analysis from the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media and the Education Writers Association. He holds a B.S. in News/Editorial Journalism and General Political Science from Central Michigan University. For fun, he likes to travel, exercise, toy with small electronics and pretend he’s a page designer.

Jessica Campbell has been reliving the traumas of adolescence for the past five years as a middle school and high school English teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She entered the New York City Teaching Fellows in 2005 and subsequently earned her MS in Teaching from Pace University. Jessica loves her students and the art of education; but, in the process of helping her students craft their writing, she realized she was sacrificing her own. Ergo, the full-time pursuit of journalism. Jessica graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a dual BA degree in Creative Writing and Classical Studies. During her years as an undergraduate, she wrote for The Daily Pennsylvanian, 34th Street Magazine, Merrick Life, and interned at Harper’s Bazaar. In her non-existent free time she cooks large batches of vegetarian food, fashions intricate itineraries for trips to Acadia, Varenna, and Sedona, and ponders the significance of New York’s ubiquitous psychics.

Kristi Goldade spent the past two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in eastern Ukraine. She taught English and started a journalism center, but mostly, survived cold weather in her dacha. Kristi earned a B.A. in English and a concentration in social justice from the University of Minnesota. While there, she wrote stories for the university’s web and print publications, as well as grants for an avant-garde space, Bedlam Theatre. She grew up in the Red River Valley and still has a soft spot for small towns. This summer she’s a janitor for a local technical college. When she’s not shampooing carpets, she’s outside on a bike.

Dan Kedmey graduated from Carleton College with a B.A. in Economics. Since then, he has worked as a research analyst at a consulting firm in Washington D.C., and then as Director of Assignment Strategy at Teach For America, a not-for-profit organization based in New York. No one ever fully understood what he did for a living, despite his best efforts to explain it to them. Their attention would wander as soon as he mentioned the word “data.” While he is proud of the skills he has developed in Excel over the past four years, he looks forward to closing the spreadsheets this summer and enrolling in the literary reportage program at NYU. When Dan isn’t crunching numbers, he enjoys walking through Manhattan, thirty blocks at a time, and searching for restaurants that can satisfy his cravings for certain kinds of junk food.

Allyson Polsky McCabe comes to Literary Reportage from a Lectureship in the English Department at Yale University. Allyson’s background is in cultural theory and rhetoric and she has published broadly in scholarly venues. However, over time she has gravitated toward narrative nonfiction and she’s interested in covering the academic world from this perspective. While many aspiring writers hang up their quills to become English professors, Allyson is experiencing this process in reverse!

Andrea Muñoz lived in Santiago until she moved to California in mid 2008. She holds a B.A. on Philosophy from Universidad Católica de Chile and worked on David Hume’s epistemology for her thesis project. A contributor for El Sábado, a supplement to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, she gravitates toward stories about immigration. She enjoys German boardgames and is currently trying to convince her neighbors of uniting efforts on buying a cow so she can learn how to make her own cheese.

Nathaniel Page grew up in a salty village on the north coast of California. His formative experiences include an angry and drunken adolescence, the death of his father in a freak saw mill accident, two frustrating interactions with women, several years spent maundering across the globe, and a lifelong struggle with his neurons. He earned a degree in philosophy from UC Santa Barbara and briefly worked as a stringer for a Los Angeles newspaper. Last year he embarked upon a spiritual journey that changed his perspective of life. He values courage, honesty, openness, and forceful resolve, and would like to be a net asset to humanity by the time he dies.

Heather Rogers grew up in the border town of El Paso, Texas, where she developed the nerve she’d need to be a freelance journalist. She earned a degree in studio art and went on to day jobs in construction and with homeless youth. Teaching herself how to use a video camera she made a short documentary on garbage in 2002. Much to her surprise the project expanded into a book, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage (The New Press 2005). Her second book, Green Gone Wrong (Scribner 2010), takes on the myth that we can buy our way out of environmental crisis. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, the American Prospect, and The Nation. Her reporting has taken her everywhere from organic farms and eco-villages to dusty rural India and the rainforest on Borneo. On days off she can be found wandering through museums, watching films, and cooking with friends.

Elaine Stuart was most recently the senior associate features/travel editor at Modern Bride, enjoying far-flung assignments in Tahiti and Turkey until Condé Nast closed the magazine last fall. Before that she worked at Child and interned at New York. As a freelancer, she has contributed to a number of national, regional and digital publications. She holds a B.A. in English and Psychology from Georgetown University, where she was a member and co-director of the student dance company and wrote her honors thesis on contemporary dance criticism. Prior to college, she attended high school for ballet at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and danced with the Charleston Ballet Theatre and Richmond Ballet.

Literary Reportage Bios – 2009

Patrick Arden just left a job as a senior reporter at Metro New York. For nearly a decade, he was the managing editor of the Chicago Reader, a pioneer of the alternative-newsweekly movement. He’s also been the editor-in-chief of Illinois Times, a winner of a general excellence award from the Illinois Press Association. He has published stories at, the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Post, and other places.

Mark Byrne graduated from Columbia College in Chicago, where he was an editor of the college newspaper. While in school, he contributed to a number of local magazines, including Chicago Magazine, where he also interned. He was the associate editor at Featherproof Books, a small literary press, and an intern at New York Magazine, in which he still enjoys an occasional byline. Most recently, he worked as a freelance editor at Popular Science. Mark grew up primarily in Wisconsin, where he successfully avoided picking up an accent.

Alexandra Cardia graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Art History and English. She did her Honors work on Spanish regionalist architecture, specifically on public spaces that are both geographically rooted and globally relevant. For the past year she has worked as an editorial assistant at Cabinet, a Brooklyn-based quarterly magazine of art and culture.

Marianne Do was born in Melbourne, Australia, and raised in Saudi Arabia until she moved to Houston, Texas at the age of eleven. She graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Architecture, and dedicated a couple of summers to teach high school students how to design buildings (not that she really had the credentials to do so). She has a weakness for makeshift shelters, hand-crafted signs, and odd renovation projects.

Katherine Don holds a B.A. in biological anthropology from Northwestern University. After graduation she meandered about in indecision, initiated short-lived careers in publishing, nonprofit management, and social work, and freelance wrote for books published by such houses as Publications International and St. Martin’s Press. She believes that effective journalism must always couple with compelling narrative, and looks forward to the opportunity to prove this premise through her own writing. She is easily and overly amused by phenomena such as the triple consecutive appearance of “in,” sentence two above.

Clara Kim graduated from Columbia College, with B.A. in English literature and a visual art minor. After college, she went back to Korea, the country she grew up in, and spent the past two years traveling around the coastal villages, teaching English at a North Korean refugee school, and working as a freelance translator. Curious about the way people dress and write, she is also loves drawing out the natural storyteller in others.

Andrew Marantz tried a bit of everything at Brown. His interest in philosophy led him to India, where he learned Vedic epistemology and how to eat with his hands. His interest in cognitive science led him to Nepal, where he worked on a hypoxia study at Everest Base Camp. His interest in the politics of mass incarceration led him to an upstate New York prison town, which then became the subject of his undergraduate thesis. After college, he followed the herd to Brooklyn, where he worked as a freelance journalist, researcher, and conversation starter, writing for such places as Slate, Heeb, and Time Out New York. Andrew thinks the four most overrated things in life are bars, World War II movies, Sonic Youth, and home fries.

Marta Martínez-Martínez studied Journalism at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona because she wanted to write. Thanks to New Journalism she discovered that literary techniques were a great tool to explain our complex world. Unfortunately, Spain offers few opportunities for in-depth reporting, not even in important media such as El País, where she interned. Not wishing to stay in the same place for a long time, she went to live in Berlin and travelled constantly because of her work at a tourism magazine. New York is her new boot camp, where she will look for stories about immigration and generational conflicts, especially between women.

Robert Moor completed his B.A. in Literary Arts at Brown University. Though his studies mostly consisted of writing strange, genre-bending fiction (with literary revolutionaries like Robert Coover and Thalia Field) and fiery, student-activist journalism (contributing to and editing the College Hill Independent, the weekly Brown/RISD student newspaper), his best work strives to combine the experimental spirit of postmodern literature with the factual constraints of journalism. He is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva betrayed her Midwestern roots by moving to New York to attend Barnard College. She has a master’s degree in teaching, which she used while teaching social studies to junior high students in New York City and English to adult immigrants in the Twin Cities. Her transition from teaching to writing landed her in the field of citizen journalism, where she developed a passion for subduing rancor about its validity. She has published work in various Minnesota publications including the Twin Cities Daily Planet, the MN Women’s Press, the Rake, and KFAI radio.

Carrie Rothburd earned a B.A. in fine arts/photography in her native NY before moving to Wisconsin, where she completed an M.A. in educational policy studies, interned at The Progressive Magazine (where she also worked as art assistant), and worked with community-based nonprofits. During subsequent stops in Arizona, New Mexico, and Oregon, she finished an M.A. in fiction, began to ride dressage, and adopted two dogs, three cats, and a horse. Carrie earns her living as a freelance grant-writing consultant and writes company histories for a business encyclopedia.

Jenell Schwab holds a B.S. in anthropology from the University of California at Riverside. A natural wanderer, she adopted the high Sierra Nevada as a home where she wrote furiously for a ski town press. Life was copasetic until she happened upon a rabbit hole that led her to trade the “landlubbing” lifestyle for a whirlwind tour of the domestic, offshore oil industry. She has been occupied recently by road trips, sailing in Puget Sound and dodging cacti in the Sonoran Desert.