Just Desserts: Ontiveros, Baier win top honors

May 12, 2020
Vanessa Ontiveros at the Daily Wildcat.

Vanessa Ontiveros worked at the Arizona Daily Wildcat as news editor and a reporter.

Photo by Amy Bailey/Arizona Daily Wildcat


Vanessa Ontiveros, Rocky Baier, Tommie Huffman and Dominika Heusinkveld captured top honors May 13 at the University of Arizona School of Journalism’s 54th Just Desserts student awards celebration.

Ontiveros received the Philip Mangelsdorf Award for Outstanding Newsperson of the Year, which recognizes the top reporter/journalist in the program.

She was an apprentice reporter at the Arizona Daily Star, a student employee at Arizona Public Media for The Buzz podcast and radio show and news editor at the Arizona Daily Wildcat.


Baier captured the Sherman R. Miller 3rd Award for Outstanding Senior. She was an apprentice reporter at the Arizona Daily Star, a breaking news intern at the Arizona Republic and landed a summer internship at the Wall Street Journal. 

Huffman received the Brewster P. Campbell Award for Outstanding Junior. Huffman is minoring in marine science and attended the Online News Association conference in New Orleans.

Heusinkveld was named the Outstanding Graduate Student. She is turning her master's project, “Flying Car: Why personal flying vehicles never took off,” into a book.

More than 100 people attended the virtual ceremony via Zoom and Facebook Live. School Director Carol Schwalbe emceed the event, which had been scheduled for the Arizona Historical Society before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“We will never forget the way you persevered despite unprecedented disappointment and hardship," Schwalbe told students.

Assistant Professor Susan Swanberg won the Hugh and Jan Harelson Excellence in Teaching Award, in which students nominate professors and an outside committee votes on the winner. Swanberg also captured the award in 2019.

The Carol and Cecil Schwalbe Staff Award for Outstanding Service went to Kris Hogeboom, a senior business manager.

Other awards given out were:

  • Alex Parker Awards for Reporting: Jamie Donnelly, Sasha Hartzell, Alana Minkler
  • Kathryn Anne Governal Perseverance Award: Elizabeth Quinlan
  • Douglas Martin Courage and Integrity Award: Nina Kolodij
  • Leadership and Service Awards: Pascal Albright, Sasha Fruehauf, Clara Migoya, Meredith O'Neil
  • William Hattich Awards for Journalism Professionalism: Samantha Burdette, Blake Gephart, Jackson Peters, Alec White
  • Donald Still Award – Arizona Daily Wildcat: Pascal Albright
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award: Clara Migoya
  • Excellence in Multimedia: Alisa Ivanitskaya, Nicholas Smallwood
  • Innovation Award: Matt Brockman
  • Abe Chanin Excellence in Sports Reporting Award: Justin Pierce
  • Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Award: Brody Dryden, Alec White
  • Excellence in Science and Environmental Journalism: Brittany Uhlorn
  • Excellence in Research: Katelyn Caldwell, Laura Fuchs
  • School Media Award: Laura Fuchs, Elizabeth Humston, Nicholas Trujillo, Alec White
  • Certificates of Merit: Vianney Cardenas, Dani Cropper, Amaris Encinas, Adrian Ford, Alyssa Grabinski, Savannah Huls, Betty Hurd, Rebeca Moreno, James Parisi, Anika Pasilis, August Pearson, Jon Rice, Griffin Riley, Kacey Seeloff, Ariday Sued, Jesse Tellez, Maury Urcadez
  • Kappa Tau Alpha: Yasmin Acosta, Dani Cropper, Amaris Encinas, Gloria Gomez, Tommie Huffman, Betty Hurd, Ciara Jean, Clara Migoya, Donald Merson, Nina Kolodij, Mandy Loader, Rebeca Moreno, August Pearson, Alexandra Pere, Griffin Riley, Kacey Seeloff, NIcholas Smallwood, Maury Urcadez, Elvia Verdugo

Those receiving previous awards the last two semesters were:

  • Mark Finley Gold Pen Award for best beginning newswriter: Fall 2019: First – Denali Keefe. Second — Sunday Holland. Third — Jake Toole.
  • Drew Gyorke Photojournalism Contest: Fall 2019: First – Jacqueline Canett. Second — Sunday Holland. Third — Nathan McComb. Spring 2020: First — Marison Bilagody. Second — Madison Mccormmick. Third — Mackenzie Payton.

Those receiving scholarships were:

  • Arizona Daily Star Scholarship: Jesse Tellez
  • John R. Barnett Scholarship: Nicholas Trujillo
  • John G. Carlton Memorial Scholarship: Vanessa Ontiveros
  • Concerned Media Professionals Scholarship: Yasmin Acosta, Tommie Huffman
  • Peggy Daum Judge Scholarship: Jamie Donnelly, Pei-Yu Lin
  • Steve Emerine Scholarship: Anika Pasilis
  • Richard Gilman Scholarship: Alana Minkler, Gloria Gomez
  • Gordon D.C. “Darn Cat” Scholarship: Mandy Loader, Nicholas Trujillo
  • Hank Hubbard Scholarship: Priya Jandu, Vanessa Ontiveros
  • Donovan M. Kramer Sr. Entrepreneurial Scholarship: Sunday Holland, Mandy Loader
  • Sara and Harold Love Scholarship: Alexandra Pere
  • Douglas D. Martin Scholarship: Yasmin Acosta, Sunday Holland
  • William Milburn Memorial Scholarship: Yasmin Acosta
  • Sandra Ann Kelly Ramirez Memorial Scholarship: Alana Minkler
  • John Ruby Scholarship: Kelly Horyczun, Ericka Rios
  • Frank O. Sotomayor Scholarship: Nicholas Trujillo
  • Society of Professional Journalists Scholarship: Jamie Donnelly, Bryan Savic
  • Lois Whisler Scholarship: Anika Pasilis

In addition, the school handed out Jane Swicegood exploration grants to master's students Alisa Ivanitskaya and Meredith O'Neil. Swicegood, a longtime donor, established the fund for students to travel, buy equipment or conduct research.

Just Desserts program


Watch the ceremony

Just Desserts video