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2015 Northwest Journalists of Color Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to this year’s AAJA & SABJ Northwest Journalists of Color
scholarship winners



Ashley Walls – University of Washington


Mohamed Adan – Seattle Central College

Brady Hitoshi Wakayama - Washington State University

Brady Hitoshi Wakayama – Washington State University

Bailey Williams - Central Washington University

Bailey Williams – Central Washington University

Merdie Nzanga - American University

Merdie Nzanga – American University



For nearly 30 years, the Northwest Journalists of Color have coordinated scholarships for aspiring journalists of color. The NJC’s members belong to the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), Black Journalists Association of Seattle (BJAS), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) and the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). In 2006 NJC established an endowment to support scholarships. Since 1983, the NJC and AAJA have given more than $150,000 in scholarships.


Patricia Fisher was much more than an award-winning journalist. She brought new levels of sensitivity and perspective to the editorial pages of The Seattle Times and distinguished herself as a tireless, eloquent fighter in the areas of education and social justice.

Pat wrote for The Seattle Times business and features departments before accepting a position on the newspaper’s editorial board as the first woman and first African-American editorial writer and columnist. Increased regional visibility brought new demands, but she continued to volunteer her time, to encourage young people and to serve as a role model.

She was a founding member of the Black Journalists Association of Seattle (now known as the Seattle Association of Black Journalists), The Northwest Journalists of Color, and a former regional director for the National Association of Black Journalists. She was also an active member of The Links Inc. and Jack and Jill of America.



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Highlights from AAJA Seattle student pizza nights

Posted on by maiphoang


Free pizza, anyone? 

AAJA Seattle hit the road in March and April for a series of student pizza nights. The chapter held the events as part of its efforts efforts to promote the Northwest Journalist of Color and Founders scholarship programs.

Applications for this year’s scholarships is on Sunday, May 3. Apply today!

During the event, which was organized by chapter board members, students learned about the scholarship program, got tips from scholarship alumni and, of course, enjoyed some hot pizza!

Here are a few highlights from each of our student pizza nights.

Mountlake Terrace High School 

11080612_797303497017525_107739473633774024_oNorthwest Journalists of Color scholarship alumnus Peter Sessum chats with students at at the AAJA Seattle pizza night at Mountlake Terrace High School.

AAJA Seattle secretary Samantha Pak organized a pizza night at Mountlake Terrace High School, where she is an alumna and also serves as a co-adviser for the school newspaper, on March 24. Students met with with Kat Chow, a 2010 and 2010 Northwest Journalists of Color scholarship winner who now works for National Public Radio in Washington D.C, over a Google Hangout. For some of the students, it was a reunion as she met with several of them during a national high student journalism conference in Washington D.C. late last year. Peter Sessum, a four-time scholarship winner, attended the event, sharing his experiences in both journalism and the military and providing plenty of advice.

University of Washington

IMG_5178University of Washington students getting information about scholarships from AAJA Seattle and the Western Washington SPJ Pro Chapter. 

AAJA Seattle — with the lead of National Board representative Venice Buhain —  co-hosted a scholarship pizza party with UW’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on March 30 to talk about scholarships from both organizations. It was a great opportunity to talk about the different scholarships and to offer tips and advice on students’ applications.

poster11x17Poster promoting Western Washington University pizza night. 

Western Washington University 

Sarah Wallace, AAJA Seattle treasurer and Bellingham-based freelance writer and instructor, organized the April 13 pizza night at WesternWashington University. Students and journalism faculty heard from Carol Kaesuk Yoon, a New York Times science writer, and Rhys Logan, a Native American Western Washington University journalism school graduate who now works in social media for the university. Sarah led a Google Hangout with former NJC scholarship recipient Peter Sessum, who is now of the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs. Sarah also showed links to work by former NJC scholarship recipient Gina Cole of the Seattle Times (and a Western Washington University graduate).

Sarah also recalled her first day on the job at a major metropolitan newspaper back in the 1990s. She recalled how a group of photographers covering a local convention of Asian businesspeople made fun and mocked their accents throughout the day. When Sarah approached an editor at the end of her shift, the editor scoffed at her concerns. The next day, he thought better and emailed that he was utterly wrong and apologized.

Central Washington University

Bailey Williams and Mai Hoang

2014 Northwest Journalist of Color winner Bailey Williams and AAJA Seattle president Mai Hoang.

Chapter president Mai Hoang visited Central Washington University on April 23 for pizza and a session on internships. The event included a Q&A with 2014 Northwest Journalists of Scholarship winner Bailey Williams, who is studying broadcast journalism at the university in Ellensburg, Wash. Scholarship alumni Gina Cole (2011), Kat Chow (2010 and 2011) and Julia Martinez (2014) also helped Mai with her scholarship and internship presentation.

Thank you to all students who were able to join us for this year’s student pizza nights! In the meanwhile, if you are a student (or a student advisor) please fill out the form below to give us feedback on what you would like to see in future student journalism programming.

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Founders Scholarship winner Sandi Halimuddin: “I finally feel empowered and ready to take the next step”



Sandi Halimuddin, left, and AAJA Seattle president Mai Hoang at the AAJA Scholarship and Awards gala, which was held during the convention.

Sandi Halimuddin, 22, graduated earlier this year from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism and international relations and previously interned at The Seattle Times and Seattle Weekly. Halimuddin was the recipient of the 2013 Founders Scholarship, which covered the cost of registration and travel for the 2013 AAJA National Convention in New York. In the coming weeks, Halimuddin will return to New York in the next month for an internship at the World Policy Journal

As part of her scholarship, Halimuddin shared her convention experience for 

When I first heard about the AAJA Convention in New York, I was terrified. While my mentor (former AAJA National President) Sharon Chan described the event as a fun networking and learning opportunity, the thought of shamelessly self-promoting myself in front of well-established people in the journalism industry made me nervous. As a recent grad looking for an entry-level reporting job, the career fair, workshops and networking events are excellent resources, if not a bit daunting. Luckily, AAJA Seattle chapter members gave me great advice on how to make the most out of the annual convention.

First, my mentors encouraged me to come prepared. In addition to preparing an elevator pitch, resumes, business cards and a website with clips, it’s important to do your homework on the companies at the career fair. Sharon encouraged me to do research on media companies, their notable work and current job openings. Speaking with recruiters at the career fair was easier and more meaningful when I showed knowledge of the company and asked specific questions. While working the career fair may not immediately lead to a job, I found that speaking with recruiters helped me gain a better understanding of what my goals and expectations are.

Second, my mentors recommended that I meet as many people as possible. At big events such as these it’s too easy to hide in the corner, tweeting at celebrities and friends. While I had my share of awkward moments standing in the middle of the room looking for someone to talk to, I found that reaching out to people is not as frightening as it seems. Most people at networking events are genuine, friendly and eager to speak with people who are equally as passionate about journalism. Developing connections with fellow convention attendees is a good strategy to establish your presence in the industry, find mentors and learn from people you respect. It’s also comforting to have fellow journalism friends to keep in touch with throughout and after the convention.

Finally, my mentors in the AAJA Seattle chapter insisted that I follow up with recruiters, editors and fellow journalists I met during the convention. While it might be hard to stand out in such a busy and well-attended convention, a prompt and thoughtful follow-up letter or email goes a long way. Even if there are no current job opportunities, showing initiative and establishing relationships with people in the industry can be helpful in the future.

While I was initially hesitant about attending the AAJA Convention, I’m so glad I went this year. I met a lot of wonderful, helpful people at the convention and gained more confidence navigating the professional world. I also now have a more realistic understanding of the possibilities in the journalism industry. Following the AAJA Convention, I finally feel empowered and ready to take the next step in shaping my writing career by moving to New York City this month.

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Come to the next Dim Sum Saturday on Oct. 26

Dim Sum Saturday

Dim Sum Saturday

Sorry about the late notice, everyone. We’re going to squeeze in one more Dim Sum Saturday event before the holiday season at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 26.

Enjoy breakfast with chapter president, Mai Hoang, who will be here all the way from Yakima, and with other AAJA members.

If you haven’t been to an event recently, dim sum is a great and easy way to reconnect. The more, the merrier — friends, co-workers, former co-workers, significant others and kids more than welcome.

We’re meeting at at New Hong Kong (it used to be known as New Kowloon), 900 South Jackson Street, Seattle, WA 98104, in the International District.

We’ll all split the check. Dim sum typically runs about $10-$15 per person.

Please RSVP on the Facebook invitation so we can keep a rough headcount and know how big of a table to reserve. Hope to see you there!

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Announcing the #2K2WKS Challenge: Donate to Power of One by Aug. 5 and Frank Blethen will match it

Frank Blethen, Seattle Times publisher

Frank Blethen, Seattle Times publisher

Seattle Times Publisher Frank Blethen is challenging you to support the Asian American Journalists Association with a donation to the Power of One campaign. For all donations from July 15 through Aug. 5, Frank will match all funds raised up to a total of $2,000.

The Power of One fund supports AAJA’s important work on increasing the number of Asian Americans in journalism and ensuring fair and accurate coverage of Asian and Asian American communities.

“With the challenges facing the industry, all of us need to step up and support the important work AAJA does for diversity in journalism,” Blethen said. “Maybe you’re a student who can give $5. Or maybe you’re an ELP graduate who can give $100. Join our family of supporters for AAJA at any level.”

Donate now at AAJA by targeting your donation to Power of One. Here is how to donate. Please specify that your donation should go to “Power of One.”

Update 10/11/13:

Here are the supporters who have stepped up with a donation to Power of One during Frank Blethen’s challenge.

Candace Barron, Boeing
Larry Benesh, Zynga
David Boardman, Temple University
Ryan Blethen, Seattle Times
Venice Buhain, AOL Patch
Bobby Calvan
Janning Chan
Allen Cheng
Sharon Pian Chan, The Seattle Times
Susan Han, Seattle Channel
Mai Hoang, Yakima Herald-Republic
Michael Kim, ESPN
Janet Mason, WZZM 13
Lori Matsukawa, KING 5
Danny O’Neil, 710 ESPN Seattle
Mi-Ai Parrish, The Kansas City Star
The Poynter Institute
Albert Shen, Shen Consulting
Thanh Tan, Seattle Times
Doris Truong, Washington Post
Janet Tu, Seattle Times
Tiffany Wan
Brian Wong, ESPN
Sunny Wu, MSN

Donors pledged $3,460 for the #2K2WKS challenge. When he saw the pledges that came in, Frank Blethen also upped his challenge grant, which means we have raised a total of $5,860 for AAJA’s mission with this campaign.

Thank you all for your support for diversity in journalism.

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