Johnathan Rodgers Fellows visit the J-School

April 9, 2018

From top left: Jonathan Rodas, Terrence Johnson, Gabriel Schneider, Akintunde Ahmad, Lauren Edmonds, Jessica Alvarenga, Betty Marquez Rosales, Ravleen Kaur, Marissa Beale, Ashvini Malshe, Carla Williams, Annette Choi. Photo: Yesica Prado (’19).

Twelve recently admitted students from as far away as Virginia, Mississippi and Wisconsin attended the annual Spring Welcome Week as Rodgers Fellows in mid-March. Funded by media executive and Berkeley alum Johnathan Rodgers (’67)—one of the most powerful African American leaders in media of the last 50 years–the Rodgers Fellowships are designed to increase diversity at the School by covering expenses associated with attending Spring Welcome Week as selected students make their final decisions about where to pursue their graduate studies.

Rodgers himself studied journalism at Berkeley, and went on to make a name for himself in broadcast journalism, serving as president of CBS Television Stations and Discovery Networks U.S. He was the CEO and president of TV One for more than six years and currently serves on the boards of both Nike and Comcast. He has been funding the Rodgers Fellowships since 2000.

“For nearly two decades, Johnathan Rodgers’s generosity has played a pivotal role in our commitment to change the diversity in the newsrooms of tomorrow by training reporters of color today,” said J-School Dean Edward Wasserman. “We remain determined to reach the point where at least half of our students self-identify as people of color, commensurate with the population of our home state.”

Brad Bailey (’17) of Georgia, whose thesis film “Hale” was awarded the Student Academy Award last year, says receiving the funding was critical in his choosing Berkeley Journalism over other schools. “I came here as a Rodgers Fellow in 2015, was accepted into the class of 2017, I learned to shoot and edit and found my real voice. People like Johnathan Rodgers who invest in the careers of diverse journalists should be celebrated.”


2018 Rodgers Fellows Bios

Akintunde ‘Tunde’ Ahmad is a senior at Yale University studying sociology with a focus on urban environments. Originally from Oakland, Calif., Tunde navigated his way through the Oakland public schools, and learned first-hand what it meant to persevere through adversity in order to achieve academic success. As the son of a mechanic and a public elementary school principal, Tunde always had a passion for figuring things out and committing to academic excellence. In addition, he has always found a way to take the skills that he has learned through his personal educational journey and apply them to constructing methods that will improve the educational system in the United States and abroad. He frequently shares his personal stories, advice, and reflections on a host of publications and programs, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Sway in the Morning, MSNBC with Craig Melvin, Huffington Post, MTV, Black Enterprise, and Jopwell.

Marissa Beale is from Virginia and graduated with a degree in English from the College of William and Mary in May 2014. After graduating, she worked as a freelance reporter at a newspaper in her hometown, writing mainly about education. She also developed an interest in foreign media and international travel, and worked for a year as an assistant language teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. She says she is interested in journalism because of the positive role that journalists can have on communities and in the world around them.

Annette Choi is currently a news desk intern at ABC7 and media mentor at PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. She is a 2017 graduate of Emerson College in Boston, Mass., where she majored in communication studies and minored in writing. She is most interested in science journalism and hopes to develop practical skills in New Media that can be used to convey critical science and health news to broad audiences. Previously, she has interned and freelanced for various science news outlets. She covered the impact of the 2017 solar eclipse on the California solar industry for Vox Media and is working on a neuroscience article about sleep paralysis for PBS NOVA.

Lauren Edmonds is a senior at Florida State University studying editing, writing, and media (on a self-imposed journalism track) with minors in communications and sociology. Although she always loved writing, as a child she was much more interested in practicing art and participating in athletics. She played lacrosse for 10 years and while in high school was inspired to create Orlando First Stick, an inner-city lacrosse program targeting at-risk girls in impoverished areas. While an undergraduate at FSU, Lauren wrote for Diverse World Fashion (DWF), an on-campus fashion magazine, as well as taking on freelance assignments.

Terrence Johnson is a multimedia journalist from Shuqualak, Miss. He currently attends the University of Mississippi where he majors in journalism with a minor in African American studies. Terrence is the current Monday anchor for NewsWatch Ole Miss, the only daily campus news outlet in the state. He also serves in various capacities throughout campus, notably as co-president of the UM Association of Black Journalists, member of the Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, community assistant in Residence Life, former intern for University Communications, and former co-director for public relations with the Associated Student Body. Upon graduation in May 2018, Terrence plans to start his career in media by exploring facets of entertainment, news, and documentaries.

Ravleen Kaur is interested in narrative writing, new media, and video storytelling. She spent her childhood in the Bay Area and for the past 14 years has lived in the Portland, Ore., metro area, where she contributes to numerous local news outlets. Most recently, she worked as an education and arts reporter for hyperlocal newspapers. Before that, she was a research fellow for a community project documenting testimony about the 1984 anti-Sikh violence, which was also the focus of her undergraduate honors thesis. She graduated from Portland State University in 2015 with a B.A. in english.

Ashvini Malshe is a senior at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She studies communication with a concentration in mediated communication and technology, and also has a minor in Spanish cultural studies. Currently, Ashvini is an Opinions Columnist for the award-winning independent, student-run campus newspaper “The Daily Illini” and a pop culture blogger for “Just About Write.” She has accepted her admission offer from the J-School, and is excited to explore long-form narrative writing, while tackling minority-focused stories covering topics like digital culture, politics, activism, lifestyle, and entertainment, starting this fall.

Jessica Ofelia Alvarenga is a visual geographer and storyteller based in Houston, Texas. With a background in journalism and social justice organizing, she uses photography as a way to document and reimagine immigrant narratives, particularly those of the Central American Diaspora. Her interests include urban political economies, religion and sexuality, diasporic identities, and volcanoes. She is the co-founder of Mujeres en Medio, an online media collective for women of color. In spring 2017, she was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance and the City of Houston. Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Texas, Austin.

Ricky Rodas is a student journalist originally from Montreal, Canada, who grew up in the Los Angeles area. His parents fostered his passion for storytelling, and as a child Ricky constantly asked them about their upbringing in El Salvador. He has a strong interest in how individual narratives fit into a larger context and aims to create comprehensive news pieces that fulfill this drive. The majority of his journalistic experience stems from writing for Cal State LA’s newspaper, University Times, and serving multiple positions at the Golden Eagle Radio, the university radio station. Ricky is currently the investigative reporter for University Times, Station manager of Golden Eagle Radio, and works on Your Life in Gallery (YLG), his immigrant stories news blog.

Betty Márquez Rosales is a graduate of the inaugural Fusion Media fellowship for young journalists. She has reported on environmental, immigration, and gender issues and currently holds a communications position at a labor union. Betty received a bachelor’s degree in gender studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Gabe Schneider is a journalist from Los Angeles focusing on infrastructure, municipal politics, and racial inequality. In 2015, he co-founded The Triton, a digital-first, independent, and student-run news source. He served as editor-in-chief from 2015-17 and news editor from 2017-18, with an emphasis on gathering public records and covering the impact of national policy changes affecting UCSD. He will graduate in 2018 with a B.A. in political science and urban studies & planning.

Carla Williams has been working on restorative justice issues in the Madison, Wisc., area relating to issues of black women’s health, rights, bodies, and families. She has a B.S. in journalism from Edgewood College and produces a podcast about issues that black women face. Carla has wanted to be a journalist for most of her life, fueled by a passion to crush barriers and stereotypes about the black community.


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