Four Berkeley Journalism Students Awarded Hearst Foundation Fellowships

May 30, 2019

Karla Caraballo-Torres, Alondra De La Cruz, Lorin Eleni Gill and Francesca Fenzi.

Berkeley Journalism students Karla Caraballo-Torres, Alondra De La Cruz, Lorin Eleni Gill and Francesca Fenzi have been named Hearst Fellows. The fellowships, established by the Hearst Foundation in 2016, has provided $200,000 in financial aid over the past three years to 10 promising second-year students.

Karla Caraballo-Torres, from Falls Church, Va. is a bilingual multimedia journalist who has worked on story production from top to bottom–from camera work to field production to on-air reports. Her work has appeared in both international and national outlets including AJ+, Telemundo, Univision, RCN and Mother Jones. She is a graduate of Boston University, where she focused on film production and broadcast journalism.  

“This award has helped me be financially independent,” Karla said. “Throughout my life, my mom has worked tirelessly to support me and my three sisters. She always said our education was her number one priority, but I didn’t want my higher education dreams to be her financial burden. With this award, I was able to pay my own way and give my hardworking single mom a bit of a break.

“For me, these kinds of fellowship are what sets Berkeley apart from other graduate programs. I first heard about this fellowship program when I was deciding between Columbia University and Berkeley, and it helped me make a decision. These types of programs show that Berkeley understands the financial burdens on students and is working to mitigate them.”

Alondra De La Cruz, a multimedia reporter from the Central Valley of California, specializes in using text and video to tell human stories that affect underrepresented communities, including homelessness, community, and politics.  She holds a BA in Communication Studies and a minor in journalism from California State University, Stanislaus.

Alondra is currently a multi-platform assignment editor with KFSN-ABC30 in Fresno, and has also worked as a production assistant at KGO-ABC7 in San Francisco, a reporter for Oakland North, an editor and reporter for The Signal Newspaper, an intern at KCRA 3 Sacramento, and was station manager at KCSS 91.9FM.  In 2018, she was awarded a White House Correspondents Association Student Scholarship.

Francesca Fenzi from Prescott, Ariz. is an audio producer, writer, and visual journalist. Her work has been featured in TIME and Inc. magazines, NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Alaska Public Media, and various podcasts. She enjoys reporting stories from the intersection of science and society, and is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

“I’m so incredibly grateful for the financial assistance of the Hearst Fellowship,” Francesca said. “I came to J-School hoping to develop my skills as both an audio storyteller and as an educator. The Hearst Fellowship truly made my dreams a reality! This funding has allowed me to pursue my own work, while allowing me to support my colleagues in learning and practicing audio skills of their own. I’m so proud to have been able to gain from, and give back to, the J-School in equal measure through this fellowship.”

Lorin Eleni Gill, from Honolulu, Hawaii is a journalist with a passion for video storytelling. Before pursuing graduate studies, Eleni worked as a business reporter at Pacific Business News covering health care, nonprofits, and tourism and wrote stories about the Affordable Care Act, alternative lodging, and the controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii. Eleni studied international relations and communications at American University in Washington, D.C. Her first documentary short, about an American teen whose family was torn apart by deportation, aired on KQED in 2018. She and her classmate/colleague Karla Caraballo-Torres are currently producing a video for the PBS NewsHour about the ongoing troubles of a group of low-income seniors whose mobile home park burned in the deadly string of 2017 wildfires. For their thesis project, they also co-produced a documentary short about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, with a focus on Venezuelan children pursuing an education across the border in Colombia.

“Attending UC Berkeley is a huge privilege, and I’m so grateful for the two years I’ve had to pursue stories that I’m passionate about and get hands-on training in film production,” Eleni said. “This fellowship has been a tremendous financial support that made pursuing a master’s degree possible, but it has also led to one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at the J-School — being able to work as a video storytelling tutor and collaborate more with my talented colleagues.  

“I feel like I have new tricks up my sleeve, like investigative reporting techniques and how to take advantage of data.”

The Hearst Foundation Fellowships extend the foundation’s long-standing support for journalism education, which includes the prestigious Hearst High School Journalism awards.

The Hearst Foundation was established by William Randolph Hearst in 1945 to provide funding that advanced Hearst’s philanthropic vision, according to its website. Hearst was a hugely influential figure in the American newspaper industry, at one time owning more than 25 newspapers across the country.

“At no time has it been more important to have skilled and competent students entering the field,” Paul Dinovitz, executive director of the Hearst Foundation, said when the fellowships were created. “We are proud to have UC Berkeley students receive Hearst fellowships to further their careers and inform the sector. We know that the caliber of work produced by UCB journalism students is stellar and among the best in the country.”

“We’re grateful that the values and history we share with the Hearst family and its extraordinary legacy in American journalism led to an investment like this in the next generation,” said Journalism Dean Ed Wasserman. “We’re proud to see ‘Hearst Foundation Journalism Fellow’ mentioned prominently on the resumes of these students, and admire the leadership of Dino Dinovitz, and members of the Hearst family, particularly William Hearst III, grandson of company founder William Randolph Hearst, chairman of the board of Hearst and president of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and director of The Hearst Foundation, in providing a financial bridge to the next generation of reporters. The value of it cannot be overstated.”


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