It was wonderful to see 36 Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow Alums come together for our first virtual Alum Reunion on January 28. Alums from the classes 2012 to 2019 zoomed in from the U.S. (Palm Springs, St. Paul, Carbondale, IL, Portage, MI, Winston-Salem, NC, Akron, OH, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and D.C.) and from Baja Sur, Mexico, Montréal, Vancouver, CA, and the UK. Read on to see what these alums are doing now:
Holly Piepenburg (SIU Carbondale '18), our Outreach Coordinator, joined the event as did four former Pulitzer Center team members who later went on to practice journalism: Meghan Dhaliwal (Boston University '12) as a visual journalist based in Mexico; Sydney Combs (University of Chicago '15) as a digital producer at National Geographic; Rebecca Gibian (University of Southern California '15) as an international journalist and author of The RBG Way; and Patrick Reilly (University of Chicago '17) who spent two years at the Missoulian before starting at Georgetown Law.
Several other alums are now pursuing journalism in Washington: Julia Boccagno (American University '15) as a digital journalist at CBS News; Kara Andrade (American University '15) as a program director at the International Center For Journalists; Anna Hoffman (Kent State '15) as a UX researcher at Vox, and Camila DeChalus (American University '16) as a DHS and immigration reporter at CQ - Roll Call. Brian Munoz (SIU Carbondale '18), a visual journalist at USA Today, will soon head to D.C.
New York is home to more journalist alums at the Zoom reunion: Jonathan Custodio (LaGuardia Community College '18), editorial intern at Politico; Esohe Osabuohien (University of Michigan '18), news associate NBC; and Jessie Li (Davidson College '14), newsletter editor for The New Yorker. Max Toomey (Columbia '2017), a documentary filmmaker, covered the January 6 storming of the Capitol as a continuation of his Pulitzer Center project "People 4 Trump." Nick Swyter (University of Miami '13) is the project manager of Philanthropic Partnerships at the New York Times. Vandana Menon (University of Pennsylvania '19) reports on India at Scroll Media. Ambar Castillo (LaGuardia Community College '17) just graduated from the journalism school at CUNY and reported for the Mott Haven Herald and Hunts Point Express. She is about to start an internship with The Phoenix and will work on the first podcast from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Amanda Ulrich (Wake Forest University '16) now reports on tribal affairs for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs. Isabella Gomes (Johns Hopkins '19 ) is working on a series on health inequity for The Baltimore Sun. Katelyn Weisbrod (University of Iowa '19) is a producer at InsideClimateNews in Iowa City, and Rosalie Murphy (University of Southern California '14) is the editor-in-chief of The Devil Strip in Akron.
Eric Shoemaker (University of Chicago ’14) has a new artist book of “hybrid writing” that grew out of his fellowship reporting on climate change in Venice: CA’VENEZIA.
Several alums are involved in medicine and public health. Divya Mishra (Johns Hopkins '18) and Jae Lee (Washington University ’15) are now in medical school. After returning from his fellowship in Uganda, Lee started a non-profit called Empower Through Health (ethealth.org) to provide better health care to Ugandans—the organization is still active today. Pallavi Puri (Boston University '19) is with the food policy program at Vital Strategies. Arianne Henry (Boston University '18) is at Partners in Health and has worked as a COVID-19 contact tracer. Isabel Izek (Washington University '16) is working at Medtronic while pursuing a master's in London.
Others have joined non-profits or think tanks. Kiley Price (Wake Forest University '18) is a staff writer at Conservation International. Nikhil Mandalaparthy (University of Chicago '19) is at the Aspen Institute's Inclusive America Project. Catherine Cartier (Davidson College '19) is a consultant for the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. Julia Friedmann (Georgetown University '18) had been working on the Hill for Senator Tom Udall and just landed a job with West End Strategy Team. Julia Canney (William and Mary ’18) is now at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, with a special interest in violence prevention and women and peacebuilding. All five are (or will be post-pandemic) based in Washington.
Several alums are still in school or have returned for advance degrees: Samidha Sane (University of Pennsylvania '19) is a research assistant and student at Penn. Rafael Lima (Wake Forest University '19) is the news editor of Old Gold & Black and a student at Wake Forest. Yardain Amron (University of Michigan '16) recently enrolled in a master's of geography in Vancouver after working in journalism and education in the Himalayas. Olivia Norrmén-Smith (McGill University '19), a writer and filmmaker, is pursuing a graduate degree in social and transcultural psychiatry at McGill University.
Thank you to Reporting Fellow Editorial Coordinator Libby Moeller for helping to organize this event. We look forward to staying in touch and plan to hold more events—both virtual and in-person. (Alums who were unable to attend this event are welcome to please reach out—and stay connected through our facebook group.)
As one alum said, “It is so great to hear from so many people who have done and are doing such fascinating things.” Or, as another said, “It's amazing to be a part of this community." I feel the same way.