Specialization students

These are Medill graduate students participating in the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative’s unique new reporting specialization program.  Also included are students who completed the program and are now National Security Journalism Specialists. (Stories by the students are in the specialization program).

Michael Bacos

MikeBioMichael Bacos is a Master of Science candidate at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

Mike was enlisted in the Navy from 2000 to 2008. After getting out of the Navy, he attended American Military University. During that time, Mike moved to Thailand to train and compete in muay thai and teach English as a Second Language.

He returned to the U.S. in 2013 and pursued photography and journalism. As an intern at EXTRA Bilingual Newspapers in Chicago, Mike covered boxing and the mixed martial arts. He eventually became an MMA Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and a staff writer at Cage Pages.

Talia Beechick

Talia BeechickTalia Beechick graduated from Northwestern University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. She is currently pursuing her master’s at the university’s Medill School of Journalism.

Talia has experience interning at Make It Better magazine, SPLASH magazine (a Chicago Sun-Times publication), and was a staff writer for the virtual science and tech-focused magazine, Nvate. She also worked as a marketing strategist and content creator before returning to graduate school.

Talia’s passion for travel, social issues, politics, and health and science fuel her studies at Medill, where she plans to explore both long-form and video journalism.

Aryn Braun

Aryn Braun graduated from the University of Illinois in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in History and Spanish, then returned to the Chicago area to pursue writing and nonprofit work.

Aryn interned at the Chicago History Museum, working primarily in public relations and media management, before pursuing global journalism full-time at Medill. Most of Aryn’s undergraduate research centered around communication techniques in Early Modern Europe. She speaks fluent Spanish, has traveled extensively and hopes to report primarily on international affairs, immigration and social justice issues.

Siri Bulusu

Siri.jpgSiri Bulusu is currently a Master of Science candidate at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Her focus will be on National Security and Economics reporting.

Prior to Medill, Siri produced for Deutsche Welle and Chicago Public Media as a freelance journalist based in Bangalore, India. As a bilingual reporter, she covered topics ranging from informal credit systems to Bangalore Fashion Week. She has been a regular on-air correspondent for WBEZ’s global affairs program “Worldview” and was the South Asian Bureau Chief for Vocalo.org. She holds a B.A. in Political Science, Economics and Journalism from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore.

Vishakha Darbha

VishakhaDarbhaVishakha Darbha is a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s in History from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Delhi University, after spending a year abroad studying subjects like geopolitics, gender studies and sociology at the National University of Singapore. Vishakha hopes to become a global and social justice reporter. She also loves backpacking, singing, watching movies and reading memoirs and historical fiction. Her aim is to go cross-country biking before she turns 25.

Kayla Daugherty


Kayla is currently pursuing a master’s degree form the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where she is specializing in national security and social justice. She graduated from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, with a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and and minor in Political Science. While at Madonna she served on the university newspaper as reporter and then editor.

Bian Elkhatib


Bian Elkhatib is getting her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern. Before joining the program, she was a copy editor / page designer at The Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a creative writing emphasis and theatre and computer science minors. She speaks Arabic and has traveled to the Middle East and Southeast Asia and studied abroad in London. She is interested in using technology to give global voices a bigger presence in American media.

Marisa Endicott


Marisa Endicott is a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and national security. Originally from San Francisco, California, Marisa attended the University of California, Santa Barbara for her undergraduate degree, where she majored in Global Studies and minored in Professional Writing.

She has worked at public universities, nonprofit organizations and the Bay Area’s National Public Radio affiliate station. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and Central America and especially enjoys cross-cultural exploration and interaction. After graduation, Marisa hopes to report on social change and justice issues both at home and abroad.

Iacopo Luzi

Iacopo Luzi is an Italian journalist who has worked for several Italian newspapers and at the FAO headquarters in Rome. After graduating with a degree in English and Spanish Interpreting and Translation and obtaining a Master’s in International Relations, he moved to the North of Iraq to write a report about Italians living there. He also produced a video story from the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in Ukraine and a video diary of 10 days along Route 66 in the U.S. Iacopo has a passion for travel, speaks four languages fluently and in four years traveled to more than 35 countries.

Katherine Lonsdorf

Katherine_LonsdorfOriginally from Verona, Wisconsin, Kat started learning Japanese at age 6, and at 17, studied abroad in Okinawa, Japan at Koza Public High School in 2004. She went on to attend Occidental College in Los Angeles, and spent her junior year abroad living in Amman, Jordan, studying regional politics and Arabic at the University of Jordan. Her senior year was balanced with a competitive year-long internship at ABC-7 news, Los Angeles’s local ABC affiliate. She graduated from Occidental cum laude with a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs in 2009. In 2011, Kat joined forces with ProjectExplorer.org, an online educational travel series for kids, as an on-camera host and producer. Since then, she has filmed in 14 countries across six continents, and has become highly skilled at sleeping on planes, dealing with jet-leg, and looking much more refreshed on camera than she actually is.

Nikita Mandhani


Nikita completed her Bachelors of Engineering in Information Technology in 2011 and went on to work with Cognizant Technology Solutions as a Programmer Analyst for about three years. At the same time, she wrote for several online magazines and blogs and interned with the South Asian Institute of Strategic Affairs. She worked as the blogger and editor for a non-profit, undertook numerous virtual internships and maintained a blog focusing on social issues, women, travel, food and lifestyle.
She quit her job in 2014 and traveled to different parts of South East Asia, following which she worked for India’s popular travel portal, Tripoto, the online women’s magazine, POPxo, and Zee TV USA among other businesses as a freelance writer.
Nikita is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Journalism from the Northwestern University. She is deeply interested in issues related to social justice, refugee crisis and immigrant struggles and hopes to venture into the field of investigative data journalism combined with societal themes and global concerns.
She loves yoga, traveling, interesting conversations, delectable cuisines and expressive books.

Patrick Martin

Patrick MartinPatrick Martin graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2009 with a B. S. in Civil Engineering. After graduating, he was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Patrick deployed twice to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he worked with the Afghan National Army, Afghan Police, and Marine Corps advisor teams. He is pursuing a graduate degree in journalism and his reporting interests include national security and international conflict.

Ashesha Mehrotra


Ashesha Mehrotra is a graduate student at Medill School of Journalism. She graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Xt. Xavier’s College,Kolkata. She worked as the field organizer for India at Global Zero, a Washington NGO fighting for elimination of nuclear weapons across the world. She has also interned at media outlets such as Hindustan Times, GQ India and The Times of India.

Ashesha hopes to become a business reporter. She likes taking long walks and eating Ghirardelli intense dark chocolate- 85 percent cacao.

Megan Morris


Meggie100Born in Hong Kong, Meggie Morris spent time in China and Taiwan before settling in Australia. She studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany during high school, and traveled to East Africa after graduation to participate in a logistical fact-finding expedition for World Vision Australia. After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Arts, she worked as a music teacher and vocalist. Because of her itinerant upbringing Meggie developed a keen interest in global affairs, and wants to put her MSJ to use covering international affairs and foreign conflicts.

Neil Murthy

Neil Murthy Photo

Neil Murthy, MD, MPH completed his Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University, and is a graduate of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. During his fourth year of medical school, Neil completed an internship with the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He recently completed his medical internship in emergency medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Neil is passionate about global public health and social justice, as well as disaster preparedness and humanitarian response. Neil is eager to learn how to effectively convey security concerns to the lay public in the setting of a public health emergency. He is looking forward to exploring the field of journalism at Medill.

Steven Porter


Steven Porter is a graduate student specializing in national security journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 2012 from Indiana Wesleyan University and won statewide honors for his beat reporting at two local Indiana newspapers.

Lydia Randall

lydiansjiA New Zealand native, Lydia completed her BA with Honors in Media, Film and Communication in 2012 at the University of Otago. Her Honors thesis focused on ethics and newspaper coverage surrounding the News of the World phone hacking scandal in Britain, which sharpened her interest in security issues.

After working for New Zealand’s major commercial television news outlet for two years as a producer-researcher, Lydia started at Medill in Winter 2015. In her former role Lydia developed an interest in politics and international relations. The issue of mass surveillance and New Zealand’s role in the Five Eyes surveillance alliance sparked Lydia’s interest in national security, specifically the issues related to cybersecurity and privacy.

Lydia is pursuing her Master’s in video journalism, specializing in national security and social justice issues.

Will Racke

HenryRackeWill Racke is an MSJ candidate and aspiring national security reporter from Hinsdale, Illinois. Before coming to Medill, Will was a special agent of the Diplomatic Security Service, the U.S. State Department’s law enforcement and worldwide security bureau. He served tours in Washington, Baghdad, and Monterrey, Mexico. Will’s reporting interests include the State Department, the diplomatic community, immigration, visa systems, criminal justice, and demographics. He earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2006.

Yichen “Sophie” Zhang

Before coming to Medill, Yichen studied Spanish Language and Literature and International Relations at Peking University in China. Now in Medill, she plans to develop a career in business and multimedia reporting. Being trilingual, she in interested in communication among different ethnic and social groups. She aims at becoming a storyteller of international issues that involves culture, economics and politics. Back in China, she interned at That’s Beijing Magazine and Zhejiang Television Group.

National Security Specialists

(have completed the program)

Ezra Kaplan (Class of 2015-16)


Ezra Kaplan graduated from Prescott College in the spring of 2012 with a B.A. in Secondary Education. After graduating, he worked as a high school chemistry teacher in Northern Arizona for two years.

While at Prescott College, Ezra was able to travel along the U.S.-Mexico border and study immigration issues. He also had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East following graduation and has developed an in depth understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

He is now pursuing a master’s degree specializing in video journalism, urban reporting and national security. He is also studying photo and audio journalism. Ezra has a variety of reporting interests surrounding social justice and will pursue foreign correspondence when he is finished with his program at Medill.

Nikki McGee (class of 2015-16)

Nikki McGeeNikki graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2014 with a Bachelor of Journalism. While at Mizzou, Nikki served as president of the Society of Professional Journalists and gained experience in data journalism. As an undergraduate, Nikki also secured internships with the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C. and at KMOV Channel 4 in St. Louis.

While at SPLC, Nikki became well-versed in FOIA filing and learned about First Amendment legal advocacy for the press. This experience sparked Nikki’s interest in investigative journalism, as she sought to find a way to combine freedom of the press advocacy with her reporting.

The following summer, Nikki saw her passion come to life while interning with KMOV’s investigative team. There, she managed the investigative tip line, prepared research for investigations and pursued unanswered FOIAs the station had filed.

Nikki plans to specialize in watchdog reporting through video broadcasting while at Medill. She is most interested in investigating government corruption and waste. Through the national security specialization, Nikki hopes to gain experience covering the federal government that she can apply to her investigations.

Aditya Prakash (class of 2015-16)

Aditya ‘Adi’ Prakash is a graduate journalism student at Medill School of Journalism.

Aditya’s hometown is Bhopal, India. A sleepy small town in India’s center. His interests are covering conflict and social justice issues. He has a Bachelors Degree in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and a Masters Degree in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

Aditya enjoys stand-up comedy, watching documentaries and films in his spare time. He likes to play cricket and squash whenever time permits.

He has a keen interest in Pakistan’s politics and culture and ‘The Wandering Falcon’ by Jameel Ahmad is one of his favorite books.

Elizabeth Atkinson (Class of 2014-15)


Elizabeth graduated from Appalachian State University in the winter of 2012 with a B.A. in Spanish. After graduating, she moved to Chicago and worked as an executive and marketing assistant at a civil engineering company for two years.

While at Appalachian State, Elizabeth was able to travel to Guatemala and work at an orphanage where she became interested in immigration issues and social justice. She also had the opportunity to begin learning Arabic and hopes to continue to work on Arabic as her third language.

She received her Medill master’s degree specializing in interactive publishing, urban reporting, and national security. Elizabeth has many reporting interests, including public policy issues, immigration, social justice, government and national security.

Adam Banicki (Class of 2014-15)

Adam BanickiAdam Banicki is a documentary filmmaker and in earning his master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he concentrated on cross-platform digital storytelling, specializing in national security and human rights.

Adam earned his M.F.A. in social documentary film from the School of Visual Arts and has collaborated on film projects around the world that shed light on human rights, poverty and education. While living in New York, he contributed to several successful projects garnering Sundance Institute funding (Street Girls), an IDFA Official Selection (Future’s Past), as well as an iTunes bestseller (Chasing Beauty).

Originally from Illinois, Adam has lived and worked in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.

He is now back in New York working for Business Insider.

Daniel Brown (Class of 2014-15)

Dan earned his MSJ at the Medill School of Journalism, with a concentration in reporting. He has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Iowa State University and is close to finishing a master’s degree in Political Science from the same institution. He has studied Public Policy, American Politics, the French Revolution, as well as revolution and guerrilla warfare on the comparative level, for many years.

He is the founder of Endeavor Peace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for the victims of the genocide in Darfur. He is also the owner of The Singer Station, a small business in Iowa. He has served in many other leadership roles in non-profit organizations and governmental bodies.

His goal is to become a political and conflict reporter in Africa.

Tobias Burns (Cass of 2014-15)

Tobias Burns

Tobias Burns earned his MSJ candidate at Medill, where he specialized in multimedia reporting. Before Medill he wrote for The Sixth Wall, Life In LA, and RYOT News, all Los Angeles-based news outlets. He has worked in the legal and entertainment sectors.

His interests include foreign and national security policy, economics, cyber security, and mathematics. He also blogs about arts and entertainment.

Originally from southern Connecticut, Burns graduated from Harvard in 2006 with an A.B. in Classics. He received his language certification in Arabic from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2013.

During college Burns produced Uhambo: The Journey to a Healthy Life, a documentary about AIDS patients in rural South Africa.

He now works for The Street in New York.

Mary Cirincione (Class of 2014-15)

Mary Cirincione

A former communications consultant, Mary spent six years supporting federal clients in Washington, including FEMA, CBP and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was most recently a senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton, a position she left in June 2014 in order to move to the Chicago area to follow her passion for writing.

Mary earned is a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism, with a concentration in magazine writing and reporting. She hopes to cover homeland security and emergency preparedness concerns .

She graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2008, with a bachelor’s of science in Culture & Politics. Her studies focused on their intersection, and her core belief that in order to understand a nation’s political system, you must first understand its cultural ideologies, behaviors and traditions.

While at Georgetown, Mary served as a senior reporter for The Pearl Project, an investigative journalism program exploring the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. Her personal efforts in the Project were geared toward reporting out Pearl’s last story, by illuminating a purported connection between “Shoe bomber” Richard Reid and Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani.

She has spent time living in Mexico, Italy, Hungary and Slovakia.

Eric Cortellessa (Class of 2014-15)

Eric is a writer who earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he concentrates on magazine writing and editing, specializing in national security and social justice.

Eric graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with High Honors in English and philosophy. During that time he completed a thesis on Ernest Hemingway and David Foster Wallace and was the editorial page editor and film critic of his college newspaper.

Before moving to Chicago, Eric worked on Brian Frosh’s successful campaign to be the Democratic nominee for Maryland attorney general. He has interned for Rep. Chris Van Hollen and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Evan Garcia (Class of 2014-15)


Evan graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in English and political science. While in DC, his work with the nongovernmental organization Reporters Without Borders solidified his passion for international press freedom. He wrote and edited for College Magazine, LLC. He also wrote for GWU’s popular student newspaper The Hatchet and the GW Colonial online newsmagazine. After college, Evan moved to New York City where he wrote and performed original music and worked at two mass tort litigation firms.

His background has inspired him to cover political and human rights issues affecting the international community. His chosen medium is video.

Taylor Hall (Class of 2014-15)

Taylor HallTaylor Hall came to Medill after receiving her M.A. in Hebrew Bible from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2014. A Texas native, she is interested in the crossroads of religion, politics and national security. After living in East Jerusalem during 2011’s Arab Spring and studying at Hebrew University of Jerusalem through a Harvard Honors program, she received her B.A. in English & Religious Studies from Rice University in 2012. She reads modern and classical Hebrew, Attic Greek, French and Spanish. She now is reporting for Bllomberg News in the Emerging Markets International team in New York City.

Alix Hines (Class of 2014-15)

Alix Hines
Alix graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013 with a double major in print-online and broadcast journalism. In Richmond she interned at CBS 6 and Richmond magazine. At VCU she also contributed to the school newspaper, The Commonwealth Times. She served as a mentor and teaching assistant for the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program for VCU’s Social Media Institute which took her to Iraq in February.

She earned her master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism with the goal of becoming an international correspondent in the Middle East.

She is now working at the Fox station in Greensboro, N.C.

Amina Ismail (Class of 2014-15)

Amina Ismail

Amina Ismail is an Egyptian national and a 2010 graduate of Cairo’s Modern Sciences and Arts University mass communication program. Her career changed in 2011 when the Arab Spring led to the overthrow of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak. In the three years since, she has worked as a journalist for several Egyptian and Western agencies such as; McClatchy Newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, PBS, The New York Review of Books and others.

Reporting on the nuanced post-revolutionary period exposed her to some of the biggest risks of journalism. Yet, at a time when Egypt is violently suppressing press freedoms and most other news sources raise hysteria about their point of view, Amina wants to learn how to challenge an establishment that fears a free press and help Egyptians and the world understand what is really going on in her country.

She earned a master’s degree in visual journalism at Medill, specializing in national security and human rights. She returned to Egypt and now is a reporter for Reuters in Cairo.

Niccole Kunshek (Class of 2014-15)

Niccole KunshekNiccole Caan Kunshek is an experienced journalist who reported and anchored for TV news in several markets in Georgia and Indiana, covering mainly education. After a decade in nightly news, she became the press secretary for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and now works as the media relations manager at the nonprofit Indiana Youth Institute. Prior to becoming a journalist, she taught English at a public high school in Japan for two years. She graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism with a dual degree in journalism and international studies.

She now is a weekend anchor and investigative reporter at an Amarillo, Texas, TV station.

Holly LaFon (Class of 2014-15)

Holly started her journalism career reporting on city hall for NBC in Dallas and interning at D Magazine. She studied English as an undergraduate and won won a full-tuition Presidential Scholarship, served as writing editor of her creative writing publication and headed the school’s research journal. With an enduring interest in foreign relations, she also won two awards at a regional Model UN competition and spent time in Argentina in a fully immersive Spanish language program.

After earning her master’s degree from Medill, Holly was hired to cover investing and analyze data as editorial director for an online financial publication, where her work is syndicated by MarketWatch, Forbes and Nasdaq, among others.

Eliza Larson (Class of 2014-15)

Eliza larson
Eliza graduated from Colby College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in creative writing. She earned a Master of Science in Journalism degree at Medill.

While in college, Eliza pursued several internships that exposed her to the world of journalism and covering national and international conflicts. She worked in print, broadcast and digital news but found she was most interested in the world of television news and production. Now at Medill, Eliza is focusing on a video broadcast track but also has an interest in reporting on state and federal courts, the judicial branch, and other political happenings both in the United States and abroad.

She now works as a reporter for WCAX-TV in Burlington, Vermont.

Beth Lawrence (Class of 2014-15)

Beth Lawrence

Beth graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in broadcast journalism and political science. While at UNC she started a student broadcast team and worked as a reporter for the school’s weekly newscast, Carolina Week.

After graduation Beth worked for UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences as a multimedia producer.

She earned a Master of Science degree at Medill, where she is specializing in broadcast journalism.

Xuan Lei (Class of 2014-15)

Xuan Lei

Xuan earned his master’s degree at Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, specializing in business reporting and magazine and interactive journalism. Born in Beijing, China, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He then spent seven years working as a current affairs news editor at Phoenix Satellite Television in Hong Kong, while freelancing for publications like Bloomberg Businessweek Hong Kong, Elle China, Harbour Times, and Rolling Stone China.

He now is a White House poole reporter for Reuters.

Rachel Menitoff (Class of 2014-15)

alt=”Rachel Menitoff” width=”100″ height=”125″ />
Rachel Menitoff received her bachelors in communications from UCLA. In August 2014, she completed her masters at Medil, with a focus in video/broadcast news.

She was one of eight McCormick National Security Fellows, based in Washington. Her reporting led her to Kiev and eastern areas of the Ukraine, where she investigated U.S. involvement in landmine destruction efforts in and around the Former Soviet Union.

Rachel now is a reporter at WVIR NBC29 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lucy Ren (Class of 2014-15)

Lucy Ren
Lucy Ren graduated from McGill University in Montreal in 2014 with a major in economics, and a minor in international development. While at McGill, she gained journalism experience at the local radio station and student journal.

She was born and raised in Shenzhen, China. She spent six years living in Victoria and Montreal before coming to the United States. In summer 2014, she interned at Tencent, a Chinese online media group, and reported the World Cup in multiple Brazilian host cities like Rio de Janeiro and Manaus.

Lucy earned a Master of Science degree at Medill in video storytelling and business reporting. She hopes to become a global and national security reporter.

Melanie Saltzman (Class of 2014-15)

Melanie Saltzman
Melanie earned a Master of Science degree at Medill in interactive publishing and video storytelling, with a concentration on reporting for the national security program. As an Eric Lund grant recipient, she traveled to Colombia this year to report on the country’s internally displaced population.

Melanie received a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University in 2010, with a double major in Broadcast Journalism and Global Communications, and a minor in politics. During her time at NYU, she completed several internships including stints at CNN’s AC360, The CBS Evening News, and Forbes Traveler.

She later worked for Viacom Media Networks in digital marketing and sales, where she explored the evolving business models of media. During her time there, she completed a short-term Fulbright scholarship in Germany for young American journalists. In 2012, Melanie moved to Argentina, where she began working for an NGO as international aid coordinator, and later studied at the University of Buenos Aires.

She now works for PBSNewsHour in New York City.

Matthew L. Schehl (Class of 2014-15)

Matthew L. Schehl

Before coming to Medill, Matt worked as a cultural advisor with the U.S. Army Human Terrain System, embedded with U.S. and Australian military units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to that he was a U.S. Army intelligence noncommissioned officer, serving in the U.S., Germany and Iraq.

A Chicago native, Matt received a B.A. in German Literature and Economics from Northern Illinois University and studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute.

Matt now is a reporter for Marine Corps Times.

Tammy Thueringer(Class of 2014-15)

Tanmara Thueringer
Tammy was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She worked as a television news producer in Seattle for several years before enrolling at Medill.

She graduated from Washington State University, where she earned both a B.A. in Political Science and second B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in broadcast news from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

While earning her master’s degree from Medill, she specialized in video journalism and economic policy reporting in Chicago and national security issues in Washington.

She now works for C-SPAN in Washington.

Stories by Tammy Thueringer

Noor Wazwaz (Class 2014-15)

Noor Wazwaz

Noor Wazwaz earned a master’s degree at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism where she concentrated on broadcast and video journalism. Noor has many interests including race and diversity, social justice and national security.

Noor graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. in psychology and completed many of the prerequisite classes for medical school. She decided to switch gears and purse a career in journalism because she felt that there is a major misrepresentation and lack of Arab and Muslim voice in Western media.

Noor aims to raise consciousness on issues from a seldom-heard perspective and to share stories from international locations not only when there is war or catastrophe.

“Our language of journalism should be the language of humanism, the language of equality and the language of real democracy,” she believes.

She now works for NPR in Washington.

Chris Walljasper (Class of 2014-15)

Chris Walljasper
Chris Walljasper earned his graduate degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Before Medill, Walljasper worked in alt weekly advertising and business technology sales. He brings the competitive nature of sales and technology to the stories he tells.

Walljasper would like to go beyond the sensationalism of terrorism and international conflict with his national security reporting and explore how people think about their security at the ground level, where it is tangible to everyday life.

Upon graduation, Walljasper became a lecturer at Medill, working in the Chicago newsroom.

Rachel White (Class of 2014-15)


Rachel White earned a master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism, specializing in video and national security journalism. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with bachelor’s degrees in broadcast journalism and political science, as well as a minor in international relations in 2014. She was the executive producer, anchor and reporter for the Emmy Award-winning Centre County Report student television show. Rachel traveled to Cuba to report on press freedom with the international reporting class at Penn State, and reported for The Daily Collegian where she covered the Sandusky trial from inside the courtroom. Upon graduation she hopes to continue reporting on human rights and politics.

Matt Yurus (Class of 2014-15)

Matt Yurus

Matt earned his J.D. from George Mason University School of Law in May 2014. During his time at George Mason, he served as a law clerk for several congressional committees including the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Upon graduation he successfully completed the New York State bar examination and began work as a legal fellow for a senator.

In 2011, he earned his bachelor’s in marketing with a minor in business from Middle Tennessee State University, where he played Division I baseball.

He earned his master’s degree from Medill with specializations in politics and national security.

He now is a field producer and multimedia journalist for WUSA9 in Washington.

Mackenzie Allen (Class of 2013-14)

Mackenzie AllenMackenzie Allen graduated in 2012 from Oregon State with a degree in New Media Communications and minors in writing and French. At OSU she worked for student media, covering sports for our newspaper The Daily Barometer and producing, anchoring and reporting for our daily newscast The Beaver News.

After graduation she worked at a biweekly newspaper in McMinnville, Oregon — The News-Register — and enrolled in Medill in January 2013. She covered government and Chicago security and emergency preparedness. In Washington, she reported on the politics of national security, specifically the issue of gun control and safety.

She now works for ABC/FOX Montana.

Stories by Mackenzie Allen

Mallory Black (Class of 2013-14)

Robert Andersson

Mallory graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication and a minor in peace and justice studies from Utah Valley University and moved from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Chicago to pursue a Master’s in Journalism with a specialization in national security at Medill.

She is the former news editor of her weekly college newspaper, the UVU Review. Mallory has traveled to Haiti to study poverty, humanitarian response and development issues with United Nations agencies and directors of nongovernmental organizations.

Mallory reported on immigration and public policy issues in addition to national security in Chicago and Washington while at Medill. She now is a communications specialist at San Diego State University.

Stories by Mallory Black

Marina Cracchiolo (Class of 2013-14)

Marina CracchioloBefore entering the graduate journalism program at Medill, Marina Cracchiolo was an online news editor for WDIV-TV in Detroit and local editor for Patch.com. While at Medill, her focus was broadcast and business news, in particular covering Chicago-based transportation companies that sell products in the consumer and defense sector.

She completed an internship in the investigative unit at CNN in Atlanta. During that time, she contributed to an in-depth investigation on fraud in California’s state drug rehab program. The three-part series aired on the Anderson Cooper show.

While in Medill Washington, she covered terrorism, war, the military and threats to America’s borders.

She now works for CNN in Washington.

Stories by Marina Cracchiolo

Ashley Hickey (Class of 2013-14)

Ashley HickeyAshley earned a Master of Science degree at Medill after working in global health and U.S. politics.

Before Medill, Ashley was policy director and chief of staff at (RED), the charity founded by Bono to engage corporations in the fight against AIDS. (RED) has generated more than $200 million to benefit AIDS programs in Africa that have impacted the lives of 14 million people.

Ashley began her career working for President George W. Bush, first at the White House as a member of his three-person Oval Office staff, and later as his Special Assistant charged with organizing his post-presidential transition in Dallas, Texas.

A native of Chicago, Ashley received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University.

She now is working for the Glover Park Group in Washington.

Matt Higgins (Class of 2013-14)

Matt HiggensMatt Higgins was interested in how the U.S. government tracks terrorists organizations through financial data; the effect of sanctions on nations such as Iran in response to national security concerns; how the price of oil and gas affects national security; and security at our nuclear facilities and refineries.

He is from New Orleans and has an M.A. in History. Prior to coming to Medill, he was a high school teacher.

Kristin April Kim (Class of 2013-14)

Kristin April KimKristin Kim earned a master’s degree with specializations in video, business and national security.
She graduated early from Northwestern University with bachelor’s degrees in communications, business and sociology.

Her main international security interests include inter-Korean and US-East Asian relations.

Kristin is passionate about jazz, yoga, public speaking, wine, singing, dancing, beaches, international travel and her two French bulldogs.

John Kuhn (Class of 2013-14)

John KuhnJohn Kuhn started at Medill in summer 2013. Before that, he taught high school English in Illinois and spent a year in New Delhi, India on a Fulbright grant.

He also interned with Child and Family Health International in Durban, South Africa, studying the socioeconomic effects and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

He now is a teacher at Majic Johnson Academy in Englewood, Illinois.

Stories by John Kuhn.

Ashley Lapin (Class of 2013-14)

Ashley LapinAshley Lapin earned her master’s degree at Medill after working for seven years at The Rotary Foundation, where she helped develop a new grant program. She has always been interested in international relations – as a French and Spanish major, she studied abroad in Paris and Madrid and made sure to find a job after graduation where she could use her French and Spanish on a daily basis.

She became interested in peace and conflict prevention/resolution while working at TRF,which led her to Medill, so that she could combine her passion in media and journalism with this issue. While at Medill, she has specialized in business reporting and video journalism. She has focused on the business side of national security, particularly on government defense contractors.

She now is an associate editor at Kitchen and Bath Design News in Chicago.

Stories by Ashley Lapin

Hayato Norimine (Class of 2013-14)

Hayato Norimine
Hayato graduated from the University of Washington, having majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. During her time there she served as editor-in-chief of her college paper, The Daily, after having worked as a reporter, copy editor, features and development editor. In the summers she interned at online outlets The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and NPR’s 88.5 KPLU and freelanced for local ethnic publications Northwest Asian Weekly and The International Examiner.

She now works at Al Bawaba News in Amman, Jordan.

Megan Pauly (Class of 2013-14)

Megan PaulyMegan Pauly received her undergraduate degree in International Business and Marketing from Wichita State University in 2012 and graduated from Medill with a Master’s of Science in Journalism in 2013.

She had two concentrations at Medill — health and science and national security reporting.

Stories by Megan Pauly

Christen Simeral (Class of 2013-14)

Christen Simeral

Christen earned a Master of Science degree at Medill, where she is specializing in Interactive Publishing.

She is interested in policy issues surrounding military and veteran communities.

Originally from San Diego, Calif., Christen attended the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied English and Global Security Studies.

She now is a web producer for KSWB-TV in San Diego, California.

Stories by Christen Simeral.

Ajai Sreevatsan (Class of 2013-14)

Ajai SreevatsanAjai strayed into journalism by chance after spending four years in engineering school. He worked as a print journalist in The Hindu newspaper in India for three years before coming to Medill. While at Medill, he wrote primarily about gun violence, climate change and emerging new technologies such as consumer drones — all from the perspective of national security.

When he’s not stalking people who fly drones for fun, he can be found in the labyrinths of Code Academy struggling with semicolons.

Meghan Tribe (Class of 2013-14)

Meghan Tribe

Meghan earned a master’s degree from Medill, where she concentrated in news reporting, specializing in national security and social justice.

Meghan graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelors degree in Romance Languages and Literature. After graduating, she began working at a nonprofit in Chicago specializing in after school programming for Chicago teens. She then went on to earn her J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

While at John Marshall Law School, she worked as a research assistant for the Human Rights Clinic, a nonprofit, nonpartisan clinic dedicated to the protection of human rights in the U.S. and around the world. She worked on various projects including submissions to the U.N. Human Rights Committee concerning the use of solitary confinement in immigrant detention facilities in the U.S. and to the U.N. Special Rapporteur in relation to the cholera outbreak in Haiti. She also worked as an assistant rapporteur for drafting sessions of the Chicago Declaration for the Rights of Older Persons that was presented to the U.N. Group on Aging.

Currently she is reporting from Phnom Penh for the Cambodia Daily.

Shu Zhang (Class of 2013-14)

Shu ZhangShu earned her master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, specializing in business reporting and video journalism.

Originally from China, Shu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Zhejiang University in 2013. She also studied economics at the University of Western Australia on a scholarship in 2011.

She’s interested in covering national security issues from a business and economic perspective.

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory (Class of 2012-13)

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory is a multimedia journalist who earned her master’s degree at the Medill School of Journalism, double-concentrating in health & science and national security reporting.

Her multimedia reporting work has appeared in USAToday.com, UPI.com, McClatchyDC.com, MilitaryTimes.com and more, and she freelances as an international health, science, human-rights and social-justice reporter.

She now works at the Military Times newspapers as a web editor.

Stories by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory