Student/Alumni Kudos

Jan. 11, 2019

The team of Ava Garcia and Rocky Baier and the duo of Phillip Bramwell and Erin Thomson each will receive $4,700 to work with the Arizona Daily Star on producing news apps for readers. The two teams and other students in Professor Michael McKisson's product development class gave their final pitches to the Arizona Daily Star on Dec. 10. Garcia's and Baier's winning proposal, "Tu Salud Tucson," aims to be a healthcare app in English and Spanish to help people from the Latinx community. Bramwell's and Thomson's winning proposal, "AccessAbility," aims to be a hub for people with physical disabilities to find information on access, such as restaurants. Click here to see all the students' product pitches.

Broadcast students produced two "Arizona Cat's Eye" episodes last month. The first show featured anchors Lorren Walker and Alexis Whitaker; executive producer Walker; and staffers Jazz Ramos, Eileen Kerrigan, Sierra Burk, Morgan Buttafuoco and Sienna Leone. The second show featured anchors Hector Ponce and Sascha Fruehauf; executive producer Carsyn Currier; and staffers Olivia Jackson, Micheal Romero, Lori Lipson and Ashley Agbede.

Alex Eschelman interviewed UA basketball player Dylan Smith for Arizona Athletics after the Wildcats' overtime win over Utah on Jan. 5. See the video.

Winter grad Simon Asher became the first J-school student to earn his remote pilot license to fly a drone. Professor Michael McKisson also earned his recertification. The two have worked on drone videography projects together for Arizona Public Media. Go to for info on how to hire students for digital services.

Zac Ogden finished his fall internship at Tucson Local Media and the Tucson Weekly. One of his stories included "SaddleBrooke Ranch residents enjoying new community brewery."

Brianna Lewis wrapped up her internship at Tucson Local Media and the Tucson Weekly. One of her stories included "Traveling Witness: Why author Jesse Sensibar records death on the highway."

Chandler Donald finished his internship at Tucson Local Media and the Tucson Weekly. One of his stories included "Seeking Support: Nonprofit celebrates 20 years of supporting transgender folks and their families."

Micheal Romero wrapped up his fall internship at the Arizona Jewish Post. He wrote more than a dozen stories, including "Hadassah Southern Arizona fashion show will be celebration of diversity."

Tom Collins received a kidney from fellow 1998 J-school graduate Bryan Hance. The two are also Arizona Daily Wildcat alums. Click here to read 2002 grad Jeremy Duda's feature. 

Arizona Republic reporter John D'Anna ('83) wrote a 10-part series on the "Hatbox Baby," a 1931 Arizona Christmas mystery, and how he helped solve it. Read the first story, and watch David Wallace's accompanying documentary

Los Angeles Times copy editor Kristina Bui ('13) helped negotiate stronger hiring and diversity protections for staffers at the newspaper in a Dec. 20 agreement. Click here to read the story.

Michelle Floyd ('17), a former UA softball pitcher who is playing professionally in Italy, worked with production units at the Arizona Bowl in Tucson (CBS Sports Network) and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena (ESPN). She's also working on her master's in strategic brand communications from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Student Media Director Brett Fera ('05) welcomed back Kyle Hansen ('16), who covered the Montana-UA men's basketball game at McKale Center in December. Kyle is the beat writer for the Missoulian and covered the UA team for the Arizona Daily Wildcat in 2015-16.

In memoriam
Yvonne Ervin, a 1984 J-school and Arizona Daily Wildcat alumna and founding director of the Tucson Jazz Society, died Dec. 26 after suffering a heart attack after liver transplant surgery. She was 59. She and her husband, Alan Hershowitz, regularly participated in homecoming events with the J-school and the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. This year, she and the Jazz Festival Foundation sponsored SBS’s Downtown Lecture Series. Read adjunct instructor Cathy Burch's obit on Ervin in the Arizona Daily Star.

Shelley Shelton
('04) has been in ICU at Banner University Medical Center with an autoimmune muscle disease since November. Shelley, an Arizona Daily Wildcat alumna, is a content specialist at Madden Media and a former Arizona Daily Star journalist. Her husband, Marcus Coltrin, and friends have set up an online campaign to pay for part of her medical bills.

Dec. 7, 2018

Kasey Adrian won the fall 2018 Drew Gyorke Memorial Fund Photo Contest for her image of a student walking home after a long day at the UA Library. Alana Minkler took second with a photo of a rock climber on Mount Lemmon, while Karyme Cuadras finished third with a portrait of a tattoo artist. Adrian will receive $200, with Minkler getting $125 and Cuadras $75. They were among 11 finalists in Prof. Kim Newton's beginning photojournalism class (JOUR 203). The others were Nicole Danigelis (two photos), Colin Green, Julia Keymer, Joseph Ledesma, Sofia Moraga, James Parisi, Mekayla Phan and Griffin Riley. All 12 photos will hang in the hallway near Marshall 327. Click here to see the images, and go to to see past winners.

Zeina Cabrera-Peterson defended her master's thesis, "Politicking While Black," before a packed house today in Marshall 340. Professors Jeannine Relly (chair) and Linda Lumsden with the J-school and Bryan Carter (Africana Studies) and Kevin Henry (Educational Policy Studies and Practice) were Cabrera-Peterson's committee members. Her family also attended the presentation, which compared the media coverage of three African-American U.S. House candidates in the 2018 midterm election. Click here for photos.

Kathleen Kunz accepted a full-time reporting position with the Tucson Local Media group, which includes the Tucson Weekly, Explorer, Marana News and others. "I couldn't be happier since this is where I wanted to end up after college," she wrote on Facebook. Check out an editor's note on Kunz.

The Dec. 7 Tombstone Epitaph at featured stories on Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada (Eddie Celaya), Tombstone's future (Cedar Gardner), native Aravaipa fish (Moe Irish), the St. David school superintendent (Hannah Dahl), climate change in national parks (Kaitlyn Fletcher), medical marijuana (J.D. Molinary), the desert's influence on beer (Chandler Donald), a Havasu Canyon trip (Michelle Jaquette), Kitt Peak renovations (Corinna Tellez) and Bisbee's meth woes (Harry Reed).

Professor Jeannine Relly's master's theory and practice class participated in the taping of Arizona Daily Star's Dec. 7 "The Point Being" podcast with Luis Carrasco, David Fitzsimmons and Jonathan Hoffman. Students Claude Akins, Monika Damron, Sascha Fruehauf, Ty Hudson, Alisa Ivanitskaya, Nina Kolodij, Meredith O’Neil, Alexis Richardson, Chris Stidley, Elizabeth Whitthorne, Ambur Wilkerson and Justin Wiley talked about themselves, their projects and research, and reacted to current events.

Winter graduates Michelle Jaquette, Rosalina Emnace, Maria Marzano and Simon Asher received J-school reporter's notebooks from Professor Nancy Sharkey at the Dec. 6 year-end bash for the Arizona Daily Wildcat at Gentle Ben's. Click here for photos.

Koleia Bungard, Ivan Ford, RuthAnn Grumbling, Olivia Jackson and Pablo Padilla shared their border research with the Nogales community during the Dec. 3 "Border Journalism and Anthropology Showcase." They are part of the Reporting in the U.S-Mexico Borderlands and Anthropology classes taught by Profs. Celeste González de Bustamante and Linda Green. Click here for photos.

Kristan Obeng, a digital apprentice at the Arizona Daily Star, covered El Tour de Tucson and the Bicycle, Health & Fitness Expo at She did video interviews with fans, race winners, cyclists and an Olympian, and tweeted all the videos. She also produced a video about the expo. She produced a video for a play called "SNOOPY" and wrote an Instagram post to highlight a reporter's story about the re-opening of a South Tucson restaurant that was damaged by a fire. Finally, Obeng gave a presentation to her desk editor and a sports producer about a sports analytics analysis she did to help improve the Star's coverage.

Jordan Williams, an apprentice reporter at the Arizona Daily Star, published a Nov. 13 story, "Stolen birthday checks, illegal Tucson gun purchases lead to 40-month prison term."

Haille Saal, a sports apprentice reporter at the Arizona Daily Star, published several volleyball stories, including "One week after NCAA Tournament elimination, Arizona Wildcats reflect on season," "Wildcats know NCAA Tournament match with Tigers is a chance to earn their stripes" and "Wildcats prepare for second-round NCAA Tournament match against Tennessee." 

Sarah Workman, a features apprentice at the Arizona Daily Star, published a handful of stories, including "This 11-year-old Tucson boy's tortillas are flying off the shelves," "Green tea: The new health food must have," "'Mamma Mia!' aims to have you dancing in the aisles," "Tamales aplenty at annual Tucson Tamal & Heritage Festival" and "Get your ski on with Warren Miller film screening at The Loft."

Alexa Agostinelli, a features apprentice at the Arizona Daily Star, published "In a galaxy far, far away — that's where the TSO is headed this weekend."

Nick Trujillo helped the J-school recruit students from Tucson High, his alma mater, in a Nov. 14 visit. Trujillo also told students about the opportunities of working at the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

Pueblo High students invited Arizona Daily Star reporter Gloria Knott ('18) to visit their English class.They wrote her letters after reading her spring 2018 El Independiente story on the gender wage gap. Go to to read the J-school's award-winning bilingual magazine and Knott's story.

Andrew Paxton, assistant editor at the Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun, spoke to William Schmidt's 306 class on Nov. 14 about local reporting. Paxton is the school's former SPJ president. Read his work at

Danyelle Khmara ('17) and Brenna Bailey ('18) accepted jobs as reporters at the Arizona Daily Star. Khmara is covering public safety after making her mark as an award-winning journalist at the Tucson Weekly. Bailey is the Star's new K-12 education reporter after a Pulliam Fellowship at the Arizona Republic and internships at Arizona Public Media. The two former Star apprentices are also Arizona Daily Wildcat alums.

Bethany Barnes ('13 M.A.) will join the investigative team at the Tampa Bay Times next month after a 2 1/2-year stint at The Oregonian, where she won numerous national awards for her education reporting. Barnes continues to share her knowledge with our students — visiting the J-school in April and doing a video chat in September. 

Fernanda Echavarri ('07) is joining Mother Jones as a reporter-producer on immigration and identity after a three-year stint at NPR's Latino USA in New York. "She'll also be, after a move, establishing a beachhead for us in Los Angeles," tweeted Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, a nonprofit, independent journalism site ( and magazine. Hear Fernanda's podcast, "The 30 Days" about a family reunited after a nine-year separation because of immigration laws. It was a joint project with Arizona Daily Star reporter Perla Trevizo and photographer Mike Christy ('11).

Daniel Scarpinato ('04) will become Gov. Doug Ducey's chief of staff after Kirk Adams announced he's resigning from the post. Scarpinato, who headed up Ducey's communications team, is a former Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Capitol Times reporter and a 2011 Arizona Daily Wildcat young alumni award winner. Click here to read a story by the Tucson Sentinel.

Arizona Daily Star investigative reporter Caitlin Schmidt ('14) spoke to students at the Nov. 13 Talk & 'Tizers about her work with public records — most recently for her reporting on Title IX issues in the UA athletic department. She met with grad students and faculty afterward at Gentle Ben's for appetizers.