A Trio of Journalism Students to Receive
The newest winners of the Silurians Press Club’s $2,000 scholarships are three outstanding students at graduate schools in journalism who are eager to report on under served communities.
Roberto Bolanos Pinella of the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York always thought he wanted to be a journalist, a goal sparked by his intense interest in Ecuadorian politics as a high school student in Guayaquil.
However, attending Hunter College he realized his command of English was weak so he switched his major from journalism to history with a minor in political science.
After getting his B.A. in 2017, Bolanos began working as a paralegal at the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee, a non-profit in Astoria, Queens where he still works fulltime helping people with immigration and family problems. “I enjoy talking to people and asking questions.” Still, he says, “I knew something was missing.” So, during the pandemic last year, a Google search led him to the bilingual studies program at CUNY’s Craig New mark School where he is pursuing his dream of becoming a commentator on politics on a Spanish-speaking network.
Now, 31, Bolanos is studying broadcasting and working for a Latino service journalism website called DocumentedNY. He also produces and narrates documentaries, including one on the politics and cultures of Latino musicians who pop up around town in itinerant rock bands.
His most recent project at CUNY has him riding the New York sub ways with a camera to interview riders about their fears about the pandemic and other anxieties.
While still an under graduate at James Madison University, Shanna Colleen Kelly from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism founded a website called “Seven Mile Satellite” to provide local news to beachgoers in Avalon and Stone Harbor, N.J., the two towns on a seven-mile-long island that previously had been a “news desert.”
Last summer, Kelly devoted much of her coverage to the pandemic, but this summer, thanks to her Silurian award, she hopes to hire some freelance contributors to provide much broader coverage as the pandemic ebbs.
At James Madison, Kelly was the man aging editor of the school paper, “The Breeze”, a winner of Virginia Press Association awards. As a graduate student this year at Columbia, she has worked on digital journalism covering the pandemic for NYC Reopens and devoted her master’s thesis to an examination of the immigration flow between Venezuela and Argentina.
Emily Fjelstad of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, began her career as an undergraduate studying linguistics at NYU then focused in graduate school on cultural criticism.
A transgender writer, she has upcoming pieces in Softpunk Magazine and Laid Off NYC. During this school year, she has reported on Covid-19 from Prospect Park, written essays on the psychology of reclusiveness and penned poems on “transness.”