Erik Kolsrud receives 2018 Bolles Fellowship

Erik Kolsrud, right, meets new UA President Robert Robbins at the College of SBS Showcase along with Amanda Oien and Prof. Michael McKisson.

Kolsrud talks at last spring's "Mexico: The Storytellers," a presentation by Prof. Celeste González de Bustamante's Press and Latin America class at the UA Library's Special Collections.

Erik Kolsrud practices flying one of the school's drones. Prof. Celeste González de Bustamante is at right.

Whether Erik Kolsrud pursues law or journalism after graduation, he knows covering the Arizona Legislature will help him in both careers.

The senior has been named the 2018 Don Bolles Fellowship winner. In the spring, he will report from the Legislature in Phoenix for the school’s Arizona Sonora News media service, under the guidance of UA professor Terry Wimmer.

The fellowship is named after Bolles, an investigative reporter for The Arizona Republic who was killed in a car bombing in 1976. The award has been handed out by the UA School of Journalism since 1977.

“Don Bolles was a man who care deeply about getting to the very bottom of the issues he covered, from land deals to bribery,” Kolsrud said in his application letter. “His dying words served to convict the man who killed him and opened up investigations that changed law in Arizona.

“He is an inspiration to me and every other reporter in Arizona.”

Last spring, Kolsrud wrote stories for Arizona Sonora News, El Independiente and The Tombstone Epitaph. His story on the border wall being built in Naco ran on the front page of the Arizona Daily Star.

“This last year also included time learning about international law, reporting on border issues and court stories, as well as a host of other subjects that will prepare me for a career in law or reporting on government activities,” Kolsrud said.

The Bolles Fellowship provides expenses, housing and a stipend for Kolsrud to live in Phoenix in the spring. It is funded through a donation by 1982 UA alumna Joni Hirsch Blackman and the Armin and Esther Hirsch Foundation.

Here's a Q&A with Kolsrud:

Q. What do you hope to get out of the Bolles Fellowship?

Having the chance to cover the Arizona State Legislature is a huge honor for me as a student journalist and an Arizonan. I toured the Capitol when I was in Fourth grade, and I never thought I would one day be working there. The Don Bolles Fellowship presents an opportunity for me to really see and understand how our government works on the floor, a view I hope I can share with my readers. 

Q. What does reporting in honor of Don Bolles mean to you?
Mr. Bolles was the perfect example of what a journalist should be: Someone who isn't afraid to dig deep and report on important issues, no matter the cost. His is a name that I've heard often, and this fellowship is my chance to in some way follow in his footsteps. I hope I can live up to even a smidge of his reputation. 
Q. Do you have some ideas or projects you'd like to work on during the fellowship? 
Immigration in Arizona is an issue that I have been quite passionate about, so having the chance to report on legislation related to that at the state level is something I aim to do with this fellowship. I'm also kicking around ideas on something to do with civic literacy, since that seems to be a problem both in schools and in our society in general — how many people can name who represents them? 
Q. What are your career goals?
After finishing my undergrad, I plan on (hopefully) attending law school and then practicing here in Arizona. My number one choice is the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona — I love the U of A and don't want to leave. I will definitely be taking the lessons I learn from the Don Bolles Fellowship and applying them to a career as a lawyer — ideally, helping people with immigration law.
Q. How have your classes prepared you to be a Bolles Fellow?
Working as the Don Bolles Fellow has truly been the culmination of four years of preparation with the best professors I could ever ask for. Just about every class I've taken through the School of Journalism has helped in some way. From Border Reporting to Reporting Public Affairs, each one has taught me valuable lessons in answering the fundamental question in journalism: How can I tell this important story? I look forward to answering that question at the Arizona State Legislature this spring.

Published Date: 

09/29/2017 - 1:05pm