$5,000 Scholarships Awarded to Four Aspiring Journalists

WASHINGTON (April 26, 2022) — Four aspiring journalists at Washington, D.C.-area universities have been selected to receive scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of Washington, D.C.  

One student at American University, one at Marymount University and one at the University of Maryland will be receiving $5,000 scholarships from the foundation based in Washington, D.C. A $6,500 scholarship will be awarded to a student at the University of Maryland.

The financial aid totaling $21,500 is funded by donations from members of the Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, support from the Gridiron Club and Foundation of Washington, and individual gifts from journalism education advocates.

Based on their applications, finalists were interviewed by a panel of veteran journalists and questioned about their aspirations, journalism ethics, the First Amendment and related topics.

Amy Fickling, president of the SDX/DC Foundation said as the news industry evolves, the need is greater than ever for journalists “well-trained in the fundamentals who have not lost sight of our central role in a democracy.”

“These four students have demonstrated a commitment to informing their readers and viewers more fully about the world around them,” said Fickling. “They are driven by their desire to make a positive difference in society. We look forward to the contributions they will make in their future endeavors.”

The 2022-23 SDX/DC Scholars are:

  • Jessica Umbro, who will be a senior at the University of Maryland. She is carrying a double-major – journalism and government & politics. She is minoring in Spanish. Umbro’s $6,500 scholarship includes a $1,500 award given annually by past SDXDC scholarship recipient Ira R. Allen. His award is designated for a University of Maryland student focused on reporting and writing for print and digital media. Umbro has written for the student-run newspaper The Diamondback, the Testudo Times (a collection of sports-oriented blogs) and The Borgen Project (an anti-poverty organization based in Tacoma, WA). She currently is a copy editor for Diamondback and The Campus Trainer, a student-run lifestyle publication.
  • Amanda Hernandez, who will be a senior at the University of Maryland. She is working on a double major – Multiplatform Journalism, with a focus on investigative projects, and Information Science, specializing in data science. Hernandez’s scholarship is being partially funded by the Washington Gridiron Club and Foundation in memory of the late journalist B.J. Cutler, who wrote and edited for years for Scripps Howard Newspapers and The International Herald Tribune. Hernandez previously received an SDX-DC scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year. She has held internships with USA Today, ABC News, NBC4 Washington, Public Source, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and the National Press Foundation. She also has worked as an editor at the student-run Diamondback and its Spanish-language edition, DBK en Espanol, which she founded in 2019 as La Voz Unida. Hernandez served as editor-in-chief for almost two years before negotiating its merger with the Diamondback. She also has worked as an urban affairs reporter for Capital News Service and as a teaching assistant to journalism Professor Ira Chinoy.
  • Adriana Doria, who will be a senior at American University. She is majoring in journalism and Interdisciplinary Studies (Communications, Legal Institutions, Economic & Government). She has written for The Eagle, the AU student newspaper. She has appeared on-air as the anchor for the student-run American Television News channel. She has held internships with Fox News.
  • Melanie Martinez-Lopez, who will be a senior at Marymount University. She is majoring in communication with a minor in criminal justice. Martinez is an honors scholar (3.9 GPA, Dean’s List for the past three years) and anticipates graduating in December 2022. She has written for The Banner, Marymount’s student-run news outlet. In addition to attending Marymount, she works 18-20 hours a week for the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star as a sports assistant. She has written articles and puts together sports agate summarizing various local games.

In addition to Scholarship Committee Interim Chair John C. Henry and Fickling, the Scholarship Committee consisted of SDX/DC board members Joie Chen, Delano Massey, Reginald Stuart and Darlene Superville.

The SDXDC Foundation is the non-profit, education arm of the Washington, D.C., Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of journalists.

Since it was organized in 1962, the Foundation has awarded more than 200 scholarships to help aspiring journalists attend college in the D.C. area.