About the project

Thirty-five top journalism students from 17 universities are conducting a major investigation this summer into the lingering impact of the pandemic as part of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, multimedia reporting initiative headquartered at Arizona State University.

For the project “Unmasking America,” the team of student journalists are investigating disparities in policies and practices that intensified under COVID and may persist. They will travel to dozens of cities and communities in rural and urban America to report on people who are used to struggling and those who are new to loss. They will explore who has unequal access to health care, to education, to housing and to food.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation provides core support for the News21 program.

Individual fellows are supported by their universities as well as a variety of foundations, news organizations and philanthropists that include The Arizona Republic/azcentral.com, Inasmuch Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Knight Foundation and Myrta J. Pulliam.

Meet the fellows

Amudalat Ajasa

Amudalat Ajasa is a journalism major with minors in global studies and meteorology at Hofstra University. She has written for The Guardian, The Star Tribune, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, The Hofstra Chronicle and serves as the editor on race, gender and identity for the The Hofstra Clocktower. View her work here.


Priya Bhat

Priya Bhat graduated from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in May 2021 with a master’s in journalism. Bhat has published work with The Times of India, The Tyee, The Narwhal, Canada’s National Observer and the university student newspaper. View her work here.


Ian brundige
Myrta J. Pulliam Fellow

Ian Brundige (he/they) studies critical media literacy at DePauw University. Brundige was editor-in-chief of The DePauw, Indiana’s first college newspaper in 2020-21 and has worked as a design editor, digital editor and radio host. View their work here.


Ceara Burden

Ceara Burden is pursuing concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism at the University of Alabama. Burden has worked at the university’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, The Alabama Alumni Magazine and created video content for The Fashion Archive at The University of Alabama. View her work here.


Gina Butkovich

Gina Butkovich (she/her) is a 2021 graduate of Kent State University, earning degrees in journalism and political science. She worked on the student newspaper as a reporter, sports reporter, sports editor, managing editor and editor-in-chief. View her work here.


Jimmy Cloutier
Inasmuch Foundation Fellow

Jimmy Cloutier is a master’s student in investigative journalism at Arizona State University, where he has reported on digital privacy, police surveillance, and the economy. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia and a former English teacher. View his work here.


Thomas curdt

Thomas Curdt studies music and English literature at DePauw University. He has served multiple editor positions at his university newspaper in addition to reporting on news and features. View his work here.


Ashley depew

Ashley Depew is a 2021 graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, majoring in journalism and electronic media. She has focused on narrative and feature writing, design, illustration and photography and has worked with the Maryville Daily Times, the Tennessee Journalist and the university’s magazine.View her work here.


Emily disalvo

Emily DiSalvo (she/her) graduated in May 2021 with a journalism degree from Quinnipiac University, where she will pursue her master’s degree in the fall. She was the arts and life editor at the university newspaper. She writes for New Haven Independent and has worked previously for CT News Junkie and The Hill. View her work here.


Zhixuan fan

Zhixuan Fan is a 2021 online-journalism graduate of the University of Oklahoma and will pursue a master’s degree in digital social media in the fall at University of Southern California. She worked with local news service outlet Gaylord News to produce a 24-episode podcast on racism during COVID-19. View her work here.


Kylie Graham

Kylie Graham (she/her) is a December 2020 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s in journalism and a minor in human rights and humanitarian affairs. She has worked at The Daily Nebraskan as a photographer and in video and photography for Civic Nebraska and The Kansas City Star.  View her work here.


Meghan Hall

Meghan Hall is a double major in journalism and marketing at St. Bonaventure University. She has reported and edited for the university’s student newspaper and worked for the Olean Times Herald, SiriusXM, in communications for a New York state senator and as a contributor to PolitiFact. View her work here.


Chase Hunter
BuffetT Foundation Fellow

Chase Hunter is a 2021 graduate of Arizona State University. He reported for the university’s student newspaper and magazine, filmed a documentary about youth suicide as part of a Cronkite School project, covered borderlands and politics as a reporter at the Cronkite News Washington, D.C. Bureau and has worked as a multimedia journalist for The Arizona Republic. View his work here.


Lauren Irwin

Lauren Irwin (she/her) is a senior studying journalism and political science at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a Colorado native and enjoys the outdoors. She has held internships at 303 Magazine and The Colorado Sun and is a founding member and incoming editor-in-chief of a new student newspaper, The Bold. View her work here.


Maddy kline

Maddy Kline is a 2021 graduate of Butler University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in international studies and Spanish. The Indiana native has worked as a managing editor for the student newspaper, for Indianapolis Monthly and in communications for Indiana Supreme Court. View her work here.


Maya Leachman

Maya Leachman is earning a master’s degree in investigative journalism at Arizona State University, where she completed an internship with AZ Big Media. The Ohio native spent 1 ½ years as a foster-care case manager. View her work here.


Brenda Maytorena Lara

Brenda Maytorena Lara (she/her) is a 2021 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in journalism with a minor in French. She has worked for The Daily Nebraskan as a multimedia journalist and multimedia assistant editor, an intern at HuskerVision, a video journalist for News Channel Nebraska and as a video production intern at Hudl. View her work here.


Elliott McVeigh

Elliott McVeigh is a journalism master’s student at Arizona State University with an undergraduate degree in theater. He has written and directed a play and worked for Cronkite News at Arizona PBS, Arizona Jewish News and Arizona Jewish Life. View his work here.


Sara Metz

Sara Metz (she/they) is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in media production with a minor in marketing at the University of Houston. She worked with the university organization that broadcasts intercollegiate athletic events and has worked in communications and community engagement for Central Health, a public healthcare district.


Domenica Orellana

Domenica Orellana is a 2021 graduate of Syracuse University, with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Orellana has worked in Spanish, French and English for CNNI International, CNN en Español and WSYR News Channel 9, Ecuavisa. View her work here.


Michael Patton
BuffetT Foundation Fellow

Michael Patton is a journalism student at Arizona State University. He has reported for one of the university’s student newspapers and the East Valley Tribune, as well as worked on the Cronkite-PBS documentary “Life Is: Confronting Youth Suicide in Arizona” as part of a school project.

Amanda Paule

Amanda Paule is a magazine, news and digital journalism major at Syracuse University. She is the editorial lead for Visualizing 81 and has written for USA Today, Philadelphia magazine, Conference Daily Online, The NewsHouse, and The OutCrowd magazine. View her work here.


Jessica Ruiz

Jessica Ruiz recently received her masters degree in multimedia, photography and design from Syracuse University this May 2021. Ruiz is based in Orange County, California, she also owns and operates a lifestyle photography business, OCJ Photography. View her work here.


Natalie Saenz

Natalie Saenz is a May 2021 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s in journalism and broadcasting. She has previously worked for the NPR station Nebraska Public Media, The Grand Island Independent, The Lincoln Journal Star, The Omaha World Herald and Nebraska News Service. View her work here.


Emily Schmidt
News21 Fellow

Emily Schmidt is a journalism master’s student at Arizona State University. She is a graduate assistant at the university, where she conducts research on Latino, Native American and Spanish-speaking border communities. Her first novel, The Galvin Girls, was published in December 2020. View her work here.


Maxwell Shavers

Maxwell Shavers is a master’s student in digital marketing at West Virginia University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in interactive design for media. Shavers has reported on multimedia journalism projects as well as freelanced in design and visuals. View his work here.


Jessica Simms

Jessica Simms graduated in May 2021 with a journalism degree from Quinnipiac University, where she will study for her master’s degree in the fall. She has worked on the editorial board of the student newspaper as its arts and life editor and managing editor and writes for the Record-Journal. View her work here.


Nancy Spears

Nancy Spears studies print journalism at the University of Oklahoma. She reports on Indigenous issues for Indian Country Today and Gaylord News and works as a data reporter and research advisor for John Hopkins University. View her work here.

Prince James Story

Prince James Story is a master’s student in sports journalism at Arizona State University, earning his undergraduate degrees in communications and African American studies. He has worked as a graduate assistant for the Global Sport Institute and, remotely, is covering the Tokyo Olympics for a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee campaign.View his work here.


Robert Tann

Robert Tann graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2021 with a bachelors in journalism and a minor in technology, art and media. He was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, the CU Independent and has published work in media outlets such as the Daily Camera, Colorado Politics and the Colorado Sun. You can view his work here.


Zachary Van Arsdale
BuffetT Foundation Fellow

Zach Van Arsdale (he/him) studies visual and multimedia journalism at Arizona State University. He currently heads the multimedia department at the student newspaper, The State Press. He has also worked on the AZPBS show Catalyst and in online marketing. View his work here.


Emma Vandeneinde
Don Bolles/Arizona Republic Fellow

Emma VandenEinde is a 2021 graduate in broadcast journalism and a journalism master’s student at Arizona State University. She has worked as a producer for Arizona PBS, a broadcast reporter for Cronkite News and a radio reporter for KJZZ, the NPR-affiliate station in Arizona. View her work here.


Beth Wallis

Beth Wallis is a journalism senior with a minor in political science at the University of Oklahoma. She’s currently enterprise editor for the university’s student newspaper, The OU Daily, and previously taught band in a public school for five years. View her work here.


Wendy Weitzel

Wendy Weitzel (she/her) is a 2021 graduate of the University of Oklahoma, with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science and a minor in international studies. She worked for local news wire service Gaylord News and Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com. View her work here.


Mackenzie Wilkes

Mackenzie Wilkes is a senior at Elon University, where she studies journalism and political science. The North Carolina native served as executive director of the student-run news organization, Elon News Network, and worked as a production intern for the PBS American Portrait storytelling project. View her work here.