Presenting the Summer 2019 Class of Chips Quinn Scholars

Welcome to the Summer 2019 class of Chips Quinn Scholars! This is the first of three posts introducing the scholars in advance of the 49th CQS orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., in May. Meet the first group of nine scholars. 

Name: Anthony Merriweather
Hometown: Jackson, Tenn.
College: Middle Tennessee State University
Host newspaper: The Tennessean (Nashville, Tenn.)
How I got interested in journalism: Through my communications professors at Jackson State Community College – Abby Lackey and Kim Warren-Cox.
For fun I play soccer.
Journalism idol: Artist Trevor Paglen. He bridges the gap between art and journalism.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Objectivity.
Journalism work I’m proud of: Images of Trump supporters at political events.
For my internship I’ll pack every camera I own and gummy worms for stress.

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Name: Isabel Lohman
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
College: University of Missouri, Columbia
Host newspaper: Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel
How I got interested in journalism: I took a video-editing class in high school with an awesome teacher. He was encouraging, and I realized I liked solving the puzzle of making a story happen. I also knew I liked talking to interesting people. Journalism seemed like a way for me to do multiple things I enjoyed.
For fun I like to try new foods. I recently discovered that Wal-Mart has jalapeño poppers stuffed with cheese and bacon. I eat them with eggs, quinoa or rice to make a cheap dinner.
The book I’m recommending to fellow journalists: “Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity” by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. It’s a compelling read that makes you realize how some health-related topics are still stigmatized. The book increased my interest in sustainable menstrual products, access to bathrooms for homeless people and education for young women about their bodies. It’s a good read and also a fun read.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Dedication to accuracy. A lot of people have neither the time nor the resources to learn about their communities. Journalists who have that privilege need to do everything in their power to make sure they are giving the public accurate, factual information.
Favorite podcast: “Call Your Girlfriend.” One of the hosts graduated from my university, and I like the episodes where they talk about money or women’s health topics. I don’t always agree with the hosts’ takes, but I always learn something.
I get my news from: Twitter, the New York Times, Columbia Missourian, NPR and Vox’s “Today, Explained” podcast.

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Name: Dani Matias
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas
College: University of Texas, Austin
Host radio station: National Public Radio (Washington, D.C.)
How I got interested in journalism: Growing up, while my cousins were busy playing video games or watching cartoons, I’d have my nose in a book or be slumped over my desk, writing creative stories. Nearly every night my mom would get off work, I’d sit with her on the couch and ask questions in an effort to understand the evening news. These simple bonding moments ultimately shaped my career path. Journalism allowed me to mesh the two things I enjoyed doing most: asking a lot of questions and writing.
For fun I work out and go hiking, walk my tabby outside or perfect my mom’s green salsa recipe.
Dream journalism job: Working as a local radio reporter, covering race and culture or the community. I especially like these topics because I am able to help give voice to those who are underrepresented.  
Most important quality a journalist can have: Curiosity for other cultures and communities.
Journalism work I’m proud of: A piece about a paleta vendor who sends money to his family in Mexico.
Favorite podcast: The New York Times’ “Caliphate” by Rukmini Callimachi.

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Name: Garrett Ammesmaki
Hometown: Sioux Falls, S.D.
College: South Dakota State University
In my free time I write poetry and study philosophy.
The book I’m recommending to fellow journalists: “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, because it showed me how to write.
Dream journalism job: Reporting on social issues for The Washington Post.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Honesty.
Boldest thing I’ve done in life: Published two books of poetry.
Favorite journalism movie: “Nightcrawler.”

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Name: Irena Fischer-Hwang
Hometown: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Colleges: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S., M.Eng.), Stanford University (Ph.D.)
Host newspaper: The Dallas Morning News
For fun I garden, cook, knit, paint, dance, listen to public radio and read (not all at the same time).
Journalism idol: Terry Gross, host of “Fresh Air,” which airs on NPR stations, because she brings out the most interesting aspects of every person she interviews.
Dream journalism job: Being a producer for “This American Life,” “The Sporkful,” “Freakonomics” or “99% Invisible.” Or writing longform articles on food or science for The New Yorker. Or writing about technology for the MIT Technology Review. Or making videos for Vox, or Great Big Story. The list goes on.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Curiosity.
Boldest thing I’ve done in life: Switching to journalism after over a decade of training to become an electrical engineer.
Favorite podcast: “Heavyweight.” It’s the perfect mix of self-deprecating humor, a neurotic but self-aware host who has a way with words, effective sound effects and documentary-style radio reporting.

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Name: Siandhara Bonnet
Hometown: Cedar Park, Texas
College: University of Oklahoma
Host newspaper: The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
How I got interested in journalism: The teacher of my introductory journalism class in high school told me I’d make a terrible journalist based on my headline writing, so naturally I joined the newspaper staff the following year. The teacher left before we could work together, but the new adviser tossed a camera into my hands a week or two in and said, “Go take photos of junior varsity football.” I haven’t been able to look at most things since then without thinking what they would look like through a viewfinder.
For fun I drink too much coffee, listen to music and walk outside until it gets dark.
Most important quality a journalist can have: The ability to listen.
Boldest thing I’ve done in life: This is a toss-up between taking calculus my senior year of high school and starting to drink black coffee in college.
Journalism work I’m proud of: A story and photo of a man making a change in Indonesia by providing food and clothes to people. He’s devoting his life to his father’s last words, and his devotion to his cause is pure.
For my internship I’ll pack good snacks for a drive of 33-ish hours, two cats, two trusty cameras, hiking gear and everything else I own that can fit in a car.

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Name: Jared Weber
Hometown: Chapel Hill, N.C.
College: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Host media site: USA TODAY Network (Los Angeles)
How I got interested in journalism: Through my high school newspaper class.
For fun I play basketball, make music and travel.
I’d give my eyetooth to interview: Donald Glover, actor, comedian, writer, musician, director, because I admire his work ethic and refusal to be constrained by boundaries and genres.
Journalism idol: Sports journalist Jemele Hill, for her versatility as a journalist and the strength of her voice.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Sincerity.
I get my news from: Mostly news websites and NPR.

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Name: Gabrielle Cooke
Hometown: Chicago
College: Illinois State University
Host television station: WEEK-TV, 25 News (Peoria, Ill.)
How I got interested in journalism: An African American literature class showed me the important role that the media has as gatekeepers and the impact we as journalists can have on society.
In my free time I like listening to R&B or neo-soul music.
Journalism idol: Demetria Obilor, traffic ensemble anchor for WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, Texas, because she is outspoken about civil rights and provides representation for young black broadcast journalists.
Dream journalism job: Working as TV news anchor at a top 10 station.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Trying to remain as unbiased as possible and keeping an open mind.
Favorite app: YouTube.

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Northwestern U student Laura Zornosa at McCormick Foundation Center / Medill School, Evanston CampusName: Laura Zornosa
Hometown: Oshkosh, Wis.
College: Northwestern University
Host media site: The Center for Public Integrity (Washington, D.C.)
How I got interested in journalism: I started writing for my high school newspaper The Index at age 14 and haven’t stopped with journalism since.
In my free time I travel, internationally and domestically. I’ve reported from Cuba and Panama and just got back from a road trip through Memphis, Tenn., New Orleans, St. Petersburg, Fla., Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn.
Most important quality a journalist can have: Empathy. It’s so crucial to make the human being behind the story the first priority.
Boldest thing I’ve done in life: Snorkeled inside an aquarium in New Zealand full of poisonous fish.
Favorite journalism movie: “The Soloist.”
Favorite podcast: “The Moth.”

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