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SPJ selects 10 students for MediaFest22’s SPJ News team


Rebecca Aguilar, SPJ National President, 317-361-4134,
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Specialist, 317-920-4785,

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists has selected ten college students and recent graduates to be a part of the SPJ News team at MediaFest22. They will work closely with three professional journalists to cover everything happening at the convention in Washington, D.C., Oct. 27-30.

The SPJ News team includes young journalists from colleges and universities across the country. They have experience working for their school media outlets as well as professional news organizations. Students and graduates on the SPJ News team are Carolyn Burt, Olivia Cohen, Edward Franco, Jasmine Franklin, Brooklyn Joyner, De’Vante Martin, Brenda Payan-Garcia, Alexis “Lexi” Rogers, Sophie Schulz and Megan Woolard.

The SPJ News mentors this year include Brian Collister, an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter in Texas; Bob Butler, a general assignment reporter at KCBS Radio in San Francisco; and Nicolle Sartain, the editor at the News Courier in Athens, Alabama.

“We’re excited to provide these young student journalists the opportunity to report on the speakers, sessions and events happening at MediaFest22,” said SPJ National President Rebecca Aguilar. “The SPJ News experience will help the students build on their experiences in journalism that can hopefully lead them to good jobs in the future.”

The SPJ News team’s work will be posted online and shared on social media with #SPJNews22.

Carolyn Burt is an audience engagement journalist located in Los Angeles. She was a part of the Los Angeles Times Internship Class of 2022 where she worked on the audience engagement team. Burt is a journalism major at California State University, Northridge. While at CSUN, she was the managing editor for the Daily Sundial. Previously she held the position of editor-in-chief for the Corsair, Santa Monica College’s student-run news publication.

Olivia Cohen is a journalism major at Columbia College, Chicago, and is anticipated to graduate in May 2024. Cohen is the managing editor for her school's student newspaper, the Columbia Chronicle, and will move into the editor-in-chief role in December. Cohen has bylines in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Gateway Journalism Review. She aspires to be an investigative reporter, concentrating in public health reporting.

Edward Franco will graduate in May 2025 from New York University as a broadcast journalism major. He is currently interning for NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and has been a news production intern for CBS Orlando News 6 through the Emma Bowen Foundation Fellowship. Franco is also the video director for Washington Square News, NYU’s independent newspaper. He is proud to be a Colombian American who hopes to become a television reporter covering politics, education and transportation.

Jasmine Franklin is an award-winning news reporter studying broadcast journalism at Grambling State University. The Chicago-area native is currently an intern for ABC News. She also works as a part-time multimedia journalist at KNOE 8 News in Monroe, Louisiana. Franklin will graduate this December.

Brooklyn Joyner is a broadcast journalism senior at Loyola University of New Orleans. She is a native New Orleanian and chose journalism as a career path because it gives her the option to remain a student for the rest of her life. Joyner interned with Hearst Media Company and, in the summer of 2022, served as a multimedia student at the National Association of Black Journalists conference. She currently works part-time position with a local news station, WDSU.

De’Vante Martin is from St. Joseph, Louisiana. He is a senior mass communication major at Grambling State University. Some of his accomplishments include being the valedictorian of his high school and being a member of Earl Lester Cole Honors College at GSU. He is also proud of being news editor and sports editor for The Gramblinite.

Brenda Payan-Garcia is a public relations major at California State University, Long Beach. She is the editor-in-chief of the first and only Spanish magazine in the city of Long Beach. Payan-Garcia will graduate in May 2023 and hopes to create long term policy change as well as work with foundations to help the less fortunate and underrepresented communities.

Alexis “Lexi” Rogers is a journalism major and justice minor at American University. She is on the School of Communication Undergraduate Council and the Black Student Union Executive Board. Rogers hopes to become a political reporter or legal analyst on television. She will graduate in May 2025.

Sophie Schulz was born and raised in Minnesota. She is currently majoring in anthropology and minoring in journalism at Wagner College in New York City. Schutz is also involved in the student newspaper, the Wagnerian, and is part of the on-campus environmental club, Earth.

Megan Woolard is junior studying journalism and English literature at Marquette University. She is currently serving as the managing editor of Marquette Tribune. Woolard will graduate in the spring of 2024.

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