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    2015 Journalism Scholarship Winners

    Congratulations to Leah Horner, Jessica Hice, Chloe Lessard, Valentin Almanza-Mendez, Kate Houston, Brenna Lyles and Benjy Egel, the 2015 Journalism Scholarship recipients.

    The $4,000 Jerry Gillam scholarship was awarded to Leah Horner. Leah will be a junior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall. She is the news producer for the Cal Poly student-run TV station. She has an internship lined up at a station in Maryland this summer, and is off to England in the fall to study their approach to broadcast journalism. Leah already recognizes that journalism is changing and that the future is challenging. In her letter to the judges, she wrote, “I know journalists don’t make a lot of money, but I don’t care. I’m ready for a low-income career doing my favorite thing: journalism. Reporting is my passion…I can’t wait to get into the real word and begin my career.”

    The $4,000 Nereida Skelton scholarship, the winner was Jessica Hice. The Skelton scholarship is earmarked for promising students who come up through community college and are at the beginning of their journalism studies. Jessica is a first-generation college student who grew up in a tiny community in Trinity County and attended community college before entering Sacramento State and taking her first journalism courses. Her professor reports that she is a bright, hard-working, engaged student journalist who has never missed a deadline. In her application, Jessica wrote, “I may not have my degree in hand, but I am a journalist.”

    The $4,000 Bob Fairbanks scholarship, the winner was Chloe Lessard, who has an unusual background. She was a pre-med student at UC Davis when she began writing about health care issues. She produced a radio talk show on the Affordable Care Act, investigative pieces on mental health services for students, and a short documentary on clinics. Even when she began writing for the Davis Enterprise, she never stopped being a pre-med student. She is headed for UC Berkeley graduate school and concurrent master degrees in Public Health and Journalism. Her goal is to cover health care issues as a reporter with expertise in public health. In an era where specialization is increasingly valued in journalism, the judges felt Chloe has a bright future.

    The $4,000 Dan Walters scholarship was awarded to Valentin Almanza-Mendez. Valentin will enter Sacramento State in the fall. He is a Communications Studies major with emphasis in Digital Film Production at Sacramento City College. Additionally, at Cosumnes River College, he learned to produce, write and edit television and radio segments. He also interned as a journalist and photographer for the Sacramento News and Review. His eventual goal is to incorporate movie making and other alternative media in innovative new forms of journalism.

    The recipient of the $4,000 Joan Lunden scholarship was Kate Houston, a broadcast journalism student at the University of Oregon. Kate reports that journalism is “in her DNA” – her late father was a news editor for the San Jose Mercury News, her mother is a bureau editor for KQED and her uncle works for the LA Times. The judges felt her broadcast clips already show immense promise from this very poised and polished journalist, so we look forward to tracking her career.

    The $6,000 Jean Stephens scholarship, the winner was Brenna Lyles. Brenna will be a senior at UC Davis this fall. Last year, she applied for a scholarship but did not make it to the interview stage, although she had won a national award for an investigative piece she wrote for her high school newspaper. In our letter back to her, the scholarship panel encouraged her to get more experience outside the classroom and then apply again – and she did! She interned at Capital Public Radio last summer, and she is news editor, writer and co-founder of the Davis Beat, an alternative campus newspaper. Through connections she made during the scholarship interview process, Brenna will be interning at the Sacramento Bee this summer.

    The $8,000 Earl Squire Behrens scholarship was awarded to Benjy Egel. Benjy will be a senior at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in the fall. He started his journalism career when he was only 15, writing sports stories for the Davis Enterprise. By the time he was a high school senior, he was covering professional and Division 1 collegiate sports in Davis and Sacramento for the newspaper. Perhaps he would have continued down the path to becoming a sports reporter, but his coverage of student government elections at Cal Poly and an unconstitutional ban on candidates speaking to the media attracted national attention last year. He spoke to the judges about the power of the media to raise awareness and impact public policy, sounding very much like a political journalist in the making. This summer he will intern at the Bee and we look forward to seeing his bylines.

Scholarship Honorees

The Sacramento Press Club is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to helping the next generation of journalists through scholarships to journalism students in California.


Press Club 50

We are grateful to our Press Club 50 donors who help us provide $34,000 in scholarships annually.


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