Meet our current grad students

Here are bios on some of our current M.A. students and why they chose the UA School of Journalism's graduate program.

Claude Akins

  • Program: M.A. Journalism, Global Reporting
  • Areas of interest: Multimedia, U.S. foreign policy
  • Undergrad Degree: English, Portland State University
  • Hometown: Portland, Oregon
  • Background/goals: I worked as a reporter in St. Helens, Oregon, and before that I earned a B.A. in English from Portland State University. My goal is to one day work abroad, offering a global perspective to American audiences.
  • Why UA: I wanted to come to the desert, and UA was a perfect opportunity for me to learn and grow as a reporter.

Samantha Bishop

  • Program: Journalism M.A., Digital Emphasis
  • Areas of interest: Multimedia, photojournalism, food, travel, sports journalism
  • Undergrad Degree: Business Management, University of Arizona
  • Hometown: Albany, N.Y.
  • Background/goals: Currently I work in events and communications for the UA Foundation. With my background in business management, I would like to combine both degrees and my experiences to get more into PR, Communications, and Media. I would love in the future to work in the sports or entertainment industry, working PR events or creating content for their media platforms.
  • Why UA: I chose UA for my undergrad because I love the campus and the big sports school atmosphere. As an employee of the university and an alum now, I am also pretty biased in thinking that this is one of the best institutions to get a degree, especially in journalism.

Matt Brockman

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Areas of interest: Style, international journalism, journalism history
  • Undergrad degree: B.A. Philosophy, University of Arizona, 2010
  • Hometown: Thompson, North Dakota
  • Background/goals: Former US Army HUMINT Collector. Focusing on differences and similarities in how news is framed across different organizations. Newest pet peeve: typos.
  • Why UA: I watched an episode of Futurama and thought it would be awesome to see the sun setting over the Rincon Mountains from the city.

Katelyn (Katie) Caldwell

  • Program: Journalism MA
  • Areas of interest: Social media, broadcast.
  • Undergrad degree: University of Arizona Accelerated Master's Program (AMP student). Expected to graduate with bachelor's degree in May 2018 & with master's May 2019.
  • Hometown: Seattle, Washington.
  • Background/goals: Daily Wildcat News Reporter, Daily Wildcat Arts & Life Reporter, intern at KVOA. 
  • Why UA: I continued to pursue my master's degree at UA because I wanted the opportunity to graduate in 5 years. I love the journalism program here at UA and have continued to receive endless support from all the amazing faculty and staff.

Laura Fuchs

  • Program: Journalism M.A., science specialization
  • Areas of interest: Biology, genetics, ecology, climate change, feature writing, swimming
  • Undergrad Degree: B.S. Biology, M.S. Genetics, University of Arizona
  • Hometown: New Providence, N.J.
  • Background/goals: Strong background in science, specifically genetics and research in cancer genetics. Supervised a CLIA certified clinical lab in Cytogenetics with 36 years in UMC’s pathology department. Post-graduate coursework at UA included cancer genetics, molecular and medical genetics, recent advances in genetics, history of genetics and basic human pathology. Mentor high school students for UA-sponsored summer internship in cytogenetics; wrote and taught curriculum as teaching assistant for cytogenetics independent study. Taught medical students/fellows through departments of pathology and clinical genetics. I am also a tutor in science and writing. My goal is to become a science journalist and break down the jargon. There are 1 x 1014 cells in the adult human body. I plan to use the ones that haven’t yet mutated.     
  • Why UA: I chose UA because Tucson is my home. I have swum about 10,000 miles in this beautiful city, where one can do laps outside during the winter and watch a red-purple sunset in the evening. And the School of Journalism has a faculty who cares about student success.

Dominika Heusinkveld

  • Program: Dual Degree in Journalism and Environmental Sciences
  • Areas of interest: Communicating science to the public, especially environmental and health issues
  • Undergrad degree: BS in biology, Emory University; also MD from Vanderbilt University and MPH from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • Hometown: Tucson
  • Background/goals: I've worked for 15 years as a physician and public health professional. I am interested in science journalism, science communication, and how science information travels through media channels.
  • Why UA: The dual degree program with SWES and the faculty members interested in science communication--Carol Schwalbe and Susan Swanberg.It was the perfect combination for me.

Alisa Ivanitskaya

  • Program: Journalism M.A. with emphasis on Science and Environmental Journalism 
  • Areas of interest: Long-form journalism, multimedia storytelling, video shooting and video editing, podcasting, content-creation for social networks as the tools for the education of the general public.
  • Undergrad degree/Other degrees: Diploma (BA+MA) in International Journalism from Moscow State Institute of International Relations
  • Hometown: Moscow, Russia
  • Background/goals: My first articles appeared in a local newspaper when I was 15 years old. Two years later, in 2006 while still at school I started to work as a freelance reporter for a leading Russian newspaper of that time — the Kommersant. I covered the street political movements and social politics. After graduation, I worked as an editor and reporter for online publishers, magazines and News Agency TASS. Through my career, I covered regional and federal politics, protest movements, and State Duma, Winter Olympics in Sochi and legal cases such as the Pussy Riot trial. As Marion Doenhoff Program’s scholar, I worked as a trainee at Deutsche Welle, where I became engaged in video reporting. I also became attracted to science and environmental issues. In 2017 I started to work as an editor and a script-writer for Open Media project where I created short videos for social networks on science, tech, and medicine. Through a Masters Degree in Science Journalism, I intend to develop my storytelling skills for science popularization in Russia.
  • Why UA: As the University of Arizona is an R1— Research University, I inferred that studying science journalism in a place full of great scholars can be a very enriching experience. 

Nina Kolodij

  • Program: M.A. in Science and Environmental Journalism
  • Areas of Interest: science journalism and communication, historical journalism, geology, environment and conservation, photojournalism, travel
  • Undergrad Degree: B.S. Geology and minor in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona.
  • Hometown: Harleysville, Pennsylvania
  • Background/goals: I have always been a science person, and it has become evident that communication between the scientific community and the public is suffering. I took one journalism class in my senior year and was immediately hooked. I want to work on translating tricky nuances of science and research to the world while merging my two biggest passions — science and writing. If I can pick up a few more skills and do some traveling along the way, even better.
  • Why UA: I initially chose the U of A for a number of reasons, including gorgeous views, excellent geology and even better programs. After four years, I fell in love and just didn't want to leave. I was lucky that the place I wanted to stay also had the perfect graduate school for me!

Peiyu Lin

  • Program: M.A. Journalism, Global Emphasis
  • Areas of interest: Middle Eastern Affairs, global journalism
  • Undergrad degree: B.A. Arabic Language and Culture, National Chengchi University, Taiwan
  • Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan
  • Background/goals: I was a freelance writer who focused on Middle Eastern affairs before I joined UA. I'd spent one year in Jordan from 2016 to 2017 to improve my Arabic skills at the University of Jordan. In that magic year of my life, I have witnessed a completely different lifestyle and the experience has changed my worldview. I started to write and publish stories about the Middle East on media outlets in Taiwan and Jordan. After the journey, I decided that I want to be a professional journalist to tell more stories about the Arab world, an area that most people in the world have misunderstood most of the time.
  • Why UA: The program in UA provides flexibility and resources for me to combine my Arabic language skills with journalistic practices. I can continue to enhance my Arabic skills after studying for more than 4 years in Taiwan and Jordan, and at the same time learn practical skills to become a professional journalist.

Clara Migoya

  • Program: Dual M.A. in Journalism and Latin American Studies. (Science and Environmental Journalism emphasis)
  • Areas of interest: Multimedia storytelling, science, environmental reporting, investigative journalism, podcasts, food journalism, natural resources management in Latin America.
  • Undergrad degree: B.Sc Environmental Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico.
  • Hometown: Tepoztlán, México.
  • Background/goals: I have worked in agroecology and sustainable development most of my career, collaborating with non-profits and academic researchers. I’m aware of the power of compelling stories and admire the persistence and social drive of journalists who seek truth. In my formation at UA I aim to build thorough investigation skills for environmental and science reporting, including diverse voices to stories that matter to us all. My goal is to participate and create platforms that report from and for Latin American audiences.
  • Why UA?: Looking at the extensive collaboration between departments, the flexibility of the study programs, and the expertise and diversity of J-School faculty, I decided this was the place to be. I think this is a place that will offer me the best tools to build my reporting skills and pursue quality research. The mind-blowing landscapes and desert ecosystems of this region and the closeness to my own country were also very appealing.

Meredith O'Neil

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Areas of interest: Radio, podcasting, writing, language, photography
  • Undergrad degree: French, teaching license from University of Vermont
  • Hometown: Burlington, Vermont.
  • Background/goals: I taught French for five years in Vermont, and decided it was time for a change. I traveled a lot to see where I'd like to end up next, and was drawn to Tucson because of the cycling culture, the people, and the desert. I have been living here for two years with my dog, George, and ride Mount Lemmon every weekend.
  • Why UA: I chose the U of A because I like the campus, the school of journalism is excellent, the professors are friendly and very willing to support you, and simply because it's here in Tucson.

Alexandra Sharon Pere

  • Program: Accelerated Master’s Program Journalism
  • Areas of Interest: Environmental, advocacy, and solutions journalism. 
  • Undergrad degree: Bachelor’s in Print Journalism and Bachelor’s in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Abrahamic religions.
  • Hometown: Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, raised in Flagstaff, Arizona.
  • Background/Goals: While being raised in Flagstaff, I attended a liberal arts school. I was bombarded with diverse ideologies and gained a love for the environment. I spent most of these years outdoors. Before Flagstaff, my mom and I moved around a lot after my parents divorced. She's a strong woman and from that time on, I put my education at the top of my priorities. I wanted to prove to my mom that all her struggles were worth it and that I would be able to take care of her one day. I still have these goals. Everything I do, I do knowing that I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for my resilient mother. I hope to be apart of the long list of environmental journalists that change the world one day and I want to dedicate my work to my mom.
  • Why UA: I’m currently working on my Bachelor’s here at the UA, so the AMP seemed like an amazing opportunity for me to learn everything I possibly could before leaving UA for the real world!

Tony Perkins

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Areas of interest: Broadcast journalism, sports journalism
  • Undergrad degree: B.A. Telecommunications, Indiana University, 1980.
  • Hometown: Chicago
  • Background: I joined the UA Journalism graduate program in September 2015, following a career in broadcast journalism that's spanned more than 30 years and two continents.  I specialized in covering legal issues and courts, and chronicled the Jeffery Dahmer serial killer trial for ABC Radio News in the 1990s. I also worked as a television news and sports journalist for more than 13 years, and reported on the University of Arizona's national basketball title game in 1997. A continuing interest in teaching college journalism led me to a position as TV news director and adjunct instructor at the Indiana University School of Journalism in 2007.  I then served as an anchor-producer for China Central Television’s English-language coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic games. I lived and worked in China for four years before returning to the U.S. as an international sports television correspondent.

Sofia Revilak

  • Program: M.A Journalism, Global Journalism emphasis
  • Areas of interest: International relations, human rights, peace studies, border conflicts, conflict resolution, sports broadcasting
  • Undergrad degree/Other degrees: Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame with minors in Business Economics and Peace Studies
  • Hometown: Mexico City
  • Background/goals: As a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame, I hope to gain the tools and skills needed to make a positive impact on society in the field of journalism. In our current post-truth culture, it is crucial that we have prepared and well-rounded journalists to seek out the truth and expose wrongdoing from our government and our peers with the end goal of increasing transparency, fostering tolerance, and helping close the cultural gap between us as humans worldwide.   
  • Why UA: I chose the University of Arizona because beyond being my father's alma mater, it provides me with all the tools I need to be successful. As a professional swimmer for my country of Mexico, I am currently training with the varsity team here in hopes of making the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Being able to pursue my graduate degree in Journalism while also pursuing my athletic goals is an unparalleled opportunity.

Alexis Richardson

  • Program: M.A. in Journalism
  • Areas of interest: Wildlife, conservation, environmental issues, climate change, and cultural studies
  • Undergrad: B.S. in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon
  • Hometown: I'm an Air Force Brat but my most recent home is Tucson. I was born in Bellevue, Nebraska.
  • Background/goals: Growing up, I moved every three years or so, and always found a passion for writing. What started as short stories turned into trying to start a wildlife magazine when I was ten and working on longer fiction projects through high school and college. I love to tell stories and pull at the heartstrings of anyone who reads them. My ultimate goal is to write for National Geographic on wildlife conservation and climate change issues. I have a passion for African elephants and would love to see them for myself one day.
  • Why UA: I chose UA because of the amazing staff and all they have to offer. When I applied, I had never stepped foot in Arizona but I knew this was the program for me. I'm excited to see what the next year has to offer.

Chris Stidley

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Areas of interest: science and environmental writing, data journalism, ethics
  • Degrees: B.A., mathematics, Grinnell College; M.S., statistics, University of Wisconsin; Ph.D., statistics, University of New Mexico
  • Hometown: Tucson (after growing up in the Midwest and working in New Mexico)
  • Background/goals: After a career as a faculty statistician, I am turning to writing. I appreciate journalism’s rigorous methods and its role as a guardian of democracy. As a statistician, I strive for the careful conduct of scientific studies and am a guardian, but of the scientific method. I plan to write about science and the environment.
  • Why UA: I initially looked to the UA journalism program simply as an avenue to develop my writing skills. However, the courses have broadened my perspective about methods of communication and about the role of journalism in our society. The UA School of Journalism also has extremely supportive faculty.

Nick Smallwood

  • Program: Journalism M.A., Digital Emphasis
  • Areas of interest: Documentary Filmmaking, Photojournalism, Multimedia Reporting, Travel Writing, Science and Environmental Reporting.
  • Undergrad Degree: B.A. Journalism, minor in Communication
  • Hometown: Safford, Arizona
  • Background/goals: I have always had a passion for storytelling. Growing up, I remember spending nights listening as my mom would read stories to my brother and me. When I was around 13 years old, my dad introduced me to photography, and I’ve been hooked ever since. During my undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona, I had the opportunity to work as a multimedia intern with the former travel website, Experience Arizona, as an apprentice photographer with the Arizona Daily Star and as a multimedia intern with Reid Park Zoo. I am currently working as a production technician for Arizona Public Media, where I get to help on shows such as Arizona 360 and Arizona Illustrated. In the future, I hope to combine my passions for the outdoors and visual storytelling, and work as a photographer and cinematographer for an organization like Outside Magazine or National Geographic.
  • Why UA: I am a Wildcat by blood.

Rebecca Thompson

  • Program: Applied Intercultural Arts Research GIDP
  • Minor Journalism
  • Degrees: BS University of Arizona, MFA sculpture Cornell University
  • Hometown: Fairfax, Virginia
  • Background/goals: As a public artist I am experienced in telling stories with materials and forms. I enjoy researching sites in terms of the past, present, and future. Now, my interest is in learning how to craft important stories with words.
  • Website:

Lauren Trench

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Area of Interest: Journalism, Multimedia, Photojournalism, International
  • Undergrad degree: Digital Art & Design
  • Hometown: Broadalbin, New York
  • Background/goals: My background and current occupation revolve around photography, which has always been my first love. My goals, in the broadest of explanations, are to learn about people, experience cultures, travel as much as possible, and document the real, the beautiful, and the important stuff.
  • Why UA: I had never been to Arizona before I packed all my things and moved out here for grad school. It was a surprise to me, how much I’d love it at the UofA. The faculty has been nothing but helpful, the campus is gorgeous, the classes are small, and it’s close to outdoor recreation. There are times in life where you find yourself going through the motions, without experiencing what it is you’re doing—like work or school or even just driving on the interstate. Since arriving at the UofA, this has become even more obvious to me, as I find myself living in the here and now, as opposed to going through the motions. The experience here is one you want to be present for.

Justin Wylie

  • Program: Journalism M.A.
  • Areas of interest: Sports journalism, broadcast journalism and multimedia journalism
  • Undergrad degree: Interdisciplinary Studies, emphasis in Journalism, Television Film and Media, and Sociology
  • Hometown: Chandler, Arizona
  • Background/goals: I have been a student-athlete in baseball for the entirety of my academic career (first at San Diego State and now UA) and my goal is to pursue my athletics to the professional level. If this were to end, I would then pursue my aspiration of being a sports broadcaster or a sports analyst.
  • Why UA: I chose the University of Arizona because of the proximity to my family. UA is a prestigious university, and getting a master’s degree from an institution in such high regard would look amazing for my future endeavors.