Meet the class of 2014!
Rialda Zukic is a Bosnia and Herzegovina native who spent her early childhood in Germany before moving to Kentucky in January of 2000 with her family in hopes of a more promising future. Rialda holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky University in news-editorial journalism and German and has several years of experience reporting on a wide-range of issues, including the after-effects of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia. Before moving to Brooklyn in the summer of 2013, Rialda was working full time as crime/police news reporter at the Daily News in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where she covered prescription pill abuse issues in the state, a controversial officer-involved shooting, and countless felony arrests and convictions in the Southcentral region of Kentucky. Rialda’s Bosnian heritage and the tragic events that transpired in her native country have influenced her to pursue a career in documentary-style journalism.
A recent graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles Yalda Mostajeran received her B.A. in Political Science – International Relations and minored in Film, TV, and Digital Media. She continued studying her passion for politics by attending a research program in Washington D. C. There she studied and wrote about her prime interest, Iranian youth culture. However, her interest in documentary film was nurtured through her role as Producer of LCC Theatre Company. Surrounded by a cast with varying backgrounds Yalda wanted to showcase the diverse stories of the people surrounding her. She is now honored and excited to be apart of the NYU family and hopes she can unite her loves of storytelling and politics together.
Xin Liu: I grew up in Beijing. When I was little, I had a nickname-“Hundred Thousand Whys”. Friends of my parents said that if I could make money by asking questions, I would be rich. Ironically, I became a city beat journalist covering metro stories for the Beijing Youth Daily, where I could not only fulfill my curiosity but also make money by talking to others.
I earned three bachelor degrees from Communication University of China. I enjoy reading, traveling or talking to others, I treasure experiences that will expand my understanding of the world I live in.
Last year, after I failed in applying to U.S. Journalism schools, I traveled to eight cities in a row from the Southeast to Northwest of China. During the trip, I slept in a KFC in Suzhou and spent a whole night by the West Lake of Hangzhou. I talked to a senior student who once cycled from Beijing to London; a girl who devoted herself to reintroducing traditional Han Chinese clothing culture. I couldn’t help myself from using notepads and cameras to record down the places and people I came across.
During this road trip, I saw the true colors of my country; the genuine Chinese people and their virtue. And from them, I saw where I stood. This journey brought me so many valuable lessons that allowed me to rethink what journalism is—it is all about people, about life, about the soil I grew up with. I want to record the fate of the ordinary, and what we are seeing and experiencing in China.
Yamiche Alcindor is a USA Today breaking news reporter with a love for visual story telling. She splits her time covering quickly developing incidents and stories about the social issues affecting the United States. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, she has traveled across the country to cover several incidents including the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Trayvon Martin murder case in Sanford, Fla., and the 2012 presidential election in Denver, Colo. Yamiche, who once lived in Botswana for eight months, also spends time writing about societal concerns such as human trafficking, civil rights, gun violence, and poverty. A native of Miami, Fla., she is a graduate of Georgetown University and is excited to enter NYU’s News and Documentary program. Yamiche will be balancing work and school and is looking forward to telling stories for both endeavors.
Contessa Gayles was born and raised in Buffalo, N.Y. she moved to New York City for college and received her B.A. from Columbia University. At Columbia, she was a host of the WKCR 89.9FM radio talk show, “Arts and Answers,” and covered campus news and events as a staff writer for the undergraduate news blog, BWOG. She also studied abroad in Paris.
Contessa is currently working as a researcher and writer for the Ms. Foundation for Women, as well as in communications and social media for the human rights and community development NGO, Global Humanitaria. Previously, she was an Associate Editor for AOL Music, worked to promote social justice-themed films for the annual Media That Matters Film Festival, and was a Research Assistant at the Columbia University Oral History Research Office.
Contessa is passionate about social justice and human rights, and is particularly interested in women’s rights, racial justice, and the intersection of race and gender identities. As a journalist, she plans to focus her reporting on these areas.
My name is Solomon Moriba, and I’m a Broadcast Journalist from the West African state of Sierra Leone. I have extensive experience in radio and TV programming as well as human rights advocacy. I have spent the last six years in The Hague, The Netherlands, where I worked as Public Information Officer of the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone which tried former Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity. I previously worked for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation and the Open Society Foundations communication project for West Africa.
I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in English and Political Science from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, and media training in Europe and Africa.
I aim to research and produce award winning documentaries on various aspects on life, but more especially human rights, transitional justice, human and community development. I also hope to inspire many young people to take up careers in journalism.
I’m an ardent soccer fan, and also like basket ball, tennis, gulf, athletics and movies.
Robie Flores grew up in Eagle Pass, a small town on the border of Texas and Mexico. She attended Texas A&M University her freshman and sophomore years but after a spontaneous uproot to New Jersey, she finished her undergraduate studies at William Paterson University graduating cum laude with a degree in Communications and Media. Robie began her work in documentary filmmaking when she interned at Loki Films where she later stayed on as an employed production assistant working on projects like the recently released DETROPIA, The Education of Mohammed Hussein, True Life: I’m a Boxer in Detroit, CNN Heroes, and a piece for Stand Up 2 Cancer. In early 2013, she assisted Loki Films in the research work for Branded – one of the nine documentaries for ESPN’s new TitleIV series, where she worked very closely with ESPN Films. Most recently she assistant edited a feature length documentary on deconstructing racism for Point Made Films. In her spare time, Robie enjoys hiking, photographing strangers, reading, spending time with her family and playing with her puppy, Luca.
Born and raised in Southern California, Ryan S. Porush received his bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Barbara in 2012. During his time at UCSB, Ryan served as a staff writer and later sports editor for the campus newspaper, The Daily Nexus. There, he discovered his passion for journalism and honed his reporting and writing skills.
While at UCSB, Ryan also further cultivated his love of film and entertainment. In addition to interning at Lionsgate Entertainment in Los Angeles, Ryan took several classes – including TV Writing and Screenwriting – that increased his desire to write creatively. This desire, coupled with an aspiration to pursue a career in journalism, led him to enroll in a graduate program focused in visual media.
At NYU, Ryan hopes to combine his passion for popular media, particularly sports and entertainment, to tell compelling stories through the dynamic medium of documentary. Ryan’s hobbies include playing basketball, arguing about sports, watching movies, writing and traveling. He looks forward to learning from the best, alongside several talented individuals in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
Ever since Richa Sanwal was a part of AIESEC- (the largest youth run organization in the world that engages in student exchange programs across the world), Richa enjoyed mingling with people from other cultures. She grew a lot as a person during her time at AIESEC, where she attended national and international conferences and held leadership positions. She ran a project on women empowerment which included rural India and helped interns from other countries work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Richa also worked with issues like HIV/AIDS, environmental threats. The most eye-opening experience was a visit to a brothel and the conversations she had there with the sex workers. It sensitized her toward life and people.
It was Richa’s passion for journalism that led her to New Delhi Television (NDTV), one of the leading news channels in India. She studied broadcast journalism with their media institute in 2010 and was hired by the channel soon after. Life at NDTV was a roller-coaster ride. Richa worked at the channel’s production department and handled various large-scale campaigns and news shows while simultaneously handling reporting assignments at times. Richa’s next step is to tell stories through the strongest medium of journalism – documentaries. She looks forward to meeting her batch mates at NYU and hopes to have a life-changing experience.
Brittany Knotts hails from Azusa, California, a small city in the greater Los Angeles area. She holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Brittany has worked for Good Morning America, Current TV’s award-winning investigative documentary series Vanguard, Los Angeles NPR affiliate KPCC, and most recently Truthdig.com and Truthdig Radio.
Brittany’s passion for news, travel, and experiencing world cultures was sparked at the age of twelve when she attended a two-week student ambassador program in Australia. Since then, she has worked as an au pair in Madrid, been a conservation volunteer in Costa Rica, and lived in Germany for six months in 2011. During her brief time exploring and working in Germany, she also visited Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Paris, London, Luxembourg City, and Venice. But having lived in the greater Los Angeles area for most of her life, she is very much looking forward to the change of pace waiting for her in New York City. Brittany aspires to harness her education, work, and life experience to produce long form pieces for television and/or radio. Her dream is to someday work for Frontline or National Geographic.
In her free time, Brittany enjoys obsessing over politics, listening to music of the indie rock variety, endlessly talking about current events and pop culture, and watching entirely too much television. She has a special place in her heart for Veronica Mars, Alias, Arrested Development,The Daily Show, and Doctor Who.
Rongfei Guo grew up in Nanjing, China and earned a B.A. in Broadcasting from Communication University of China. In 2010, as an exchange student in Taiwan Shih Xsin University, she learned journalism and communication and then was convinced that journalism is the right field for her because this is where her curiosity, adherence to truth and attention to details are best utilized. Then she had been working for Jiangsu TV Station as an intern reporter. She was also a volunteer reporter for a philanthropy action called “Love Saves Pneumoconiosis” where she used Weibo, or China’s Twitter, to organize interviews with patients, collect information and help raise money for patients who are outside the coverage of the healthcare system. In 2011, she managed to film a 10-minute documentary on China’s petition, a serious and sensitive social that muzzles journalists in China. After that, her determination to make documentaries keeps growing. After watching several documentaries about the financial crisis in 2008 and reading economic books, she spurred her desire to film documentaries about China’s economic issues. She looks forward to the challenging and exciting life experience at NYU.
Chiara Norbitz is a New York native and holds a B.A. in Political Science from Mount Holyoke College. At Mount Holyoke, Chiara found in documentary filmmaking a perfect intersection of her two passions: politics and fine arts. Her work produced during that time includes a documentary she co-wrote and directed while studying abroad in Argentina. Following graduation, she interned with the Media Education Foundation, a nonprofit documentary filmmaking organization.
Most recently, Chiara was the sole grant writer for Upwardly Global’s NY office, a nonprofit dedicated to helping unemployed or low-income, yet highly skilled, immigrants secure professional employment in the U.S. Prior, she worked at a family foundation and provided funding to organizations in the areas of aging and geriatrics, human rights, the environment, and journalism.
Chiara is thrilled to be a part of the News and Documentary program and is looking forward to expanding her advocacy around immigrant rights and cross-cultural communication as a journalist.
Ali Withers has worked as a writer, photographer and editor for Scandinavian online magazines, digital publishing startups, and her own creative platform for female entrepreneurs.
Based in Copenhagen for the past three years, she was born in Vancouver and earned her B.A. in Political Science and Economics from McGill University in Montreal, spending part of it in Beijing.
With an interest in travelling, languages, analog photography, and design, she is excited to finally focus on documentary journalism.
Xue Yu (Alice) recently graduated from Purdue University with degrees in Mass Communication and Psychology. Her passion for story-telling originated with Chinese writing as a teen which later turned into her first book Timme. She devoted herself into visual story-telling at Purdue with the student newscast Fast Track as the producer and reporter. One of her shows won 1st place in 2013 BEA Student Television Newscast Three Days or Less Competition. She also interned as an assistant producer with Phoenix TV Beijing Bureau and as a producer intern with WLFI News 18.
She moved around a lot growing up. She was born in Inner Mongolia, the very northern province of China, spent her childhood in Fujian, down to the south of China, developed her as a teen in Beijing, the heart of China, and evolved at Purdue for four years.
She enjoys moving around even more with her camera and the mind of documentary-making with interests in social issues and foreign affairs. Being super excited about NYU and the News and Documentary program, she will be wherever her story and her heart leads.