Meet Our 2016 Scholarship Winners!
Kazi Elman Awal, City University of New York
Kazi Awal is a
Master’s candidate at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalis
m in New York City. He is a native Brooklynite currently studying data visualizatio
ns/interactives and health and science reporting. Fueled by a keen interest in finding the numbers that matter, he digs up data to unearth stories. He can also be found out on the s
treets, toting a DSLR, capturing moments unique to life in the insomniac city. Outside of journalism, though, there is nothing he enjoys more than the combination of good food, g
nd films, and gre
Aditi Malhotra, Columbia University
Tik Root is a freelance journalist. He’s worked in Yemen, Spain, Rwanda, Russia and the US covering everything from Al-Qaeda to youth issues and faith based environmentalism. His work has appeared with The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and The Economist, among other outlets. He holds a B.A. in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College. This fall he plans to pursue an M.A. in Journalism at Columbia University, with a concentration in Science, Health & the Environment.
Nani Sahra Walker works as a filmmaker, user experience designer and social entrepreneur. She was awarded the San Francisco FilmHouse Residency for her feature documentary "Other Nature" (2012) on third gender rights in Nepal and received an MTV Video Music Award (2015) for production design in Fall Out Boy's music video "Uma Thurman." Nani reports for AJ+ as a freelance video journalist. In 2015, Nani founded athenasaraswati.org, a non-profit aimed to empower displaced populations with training and education. She is currently exploring virtual reality storytelling and content strategy at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Undergraduate Scholarships - $3,000
Nitisha Baronia, University of California, Berkeley
Nitisha is an undergraduate Regents' and Chancellor's Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Nitisha began her writing career with India West Newspaper as a high school student, and has loved journalism ever since. She currently serves as the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Berkeley Political Review, the only non-partisan political publication on the vibrant campus. In addition to writing, Nitisha works as Policy Coordinator for the ASUC Student Advocate's Office, advocating for student clients on campus. She is passionate about Asian American civil rights issues, and hopes to use her scholarship to bring untold narratives to the journalistic spotlight.
Aruna Dutt, University of Western Ontario
Born in Washington, D.C. and growing up in Canada, Aruna's interest in journalism and social justice evolved as she traveled to developing countries, leading her to combine these passions by pursuing a double major in Media in the Public Interest and Global Development at Western University. She spent two months at the United Nations bureau of the Interpress Service news agency, reporting on various LGBT, gender, and aboriginal issues, international politics and human rights. Now she is a junior, returning to New York to report from the United Nations bureau, and is taking over as Editor-in-Chief of her college magazine, The Regis.
Sudhanshu Kaushik, New York University
Sudhanshu Kaushik is currently pursuing an international relations degree and a degree in journalism at New York University. He founded a nonprofit, Equality Initiative, which provides education to children in rural India. He also founded a South Asian Literary and Journal magazine alongside a YouTube news show, Mann Marzi. He’s currently working on a documentary on the Haryana Panchayati Amendment Act called Swaraj. He wants to be happy yesterday, caffeinated today, and helping people tomorrow.
Aditi Mayer, University of California, Irvine
Aditi Mayer is a sophomore at UC Irvine double majoring in Literary Journalism and International Studies. Her work as a photojournalist is largely motivated by issues of social justice, women's rights, and the South Asian diaspora. This Spring, she will be traveling to La Paz, Mexico to cover issues relating to girl's education and urban development. In addition to freelance reporting, she runs her own blog, ADIMAY.com, which highlights her photography, travel, and the intersection between style and social action.Jasmine Rashid, Swarthmore College
Jasmine Rashid, born and raised on Long Island, graduated from Farmingdale High School and currently attends Swarthmore College, class of 2018. At Swarthmore College, Ms. Rashid is exploring academia through a variety of lenses, including Peace and Conflict Studies, Sociology, Political Science, and Behavioral Economics. From an early age, she has been dedicated to working towards justice in marginalized communities, and focuses much of her writing, passion, and action on exposing racial inequities, advocating the importance of gender equity, and detailing narratives of those strategizing against violence in South Asia and the global community at large. Additionally, Ms. Rashid is the creator of VISIBILITY Magazine, an online publication produced by the Swarthmore Intercultural Center.
Devi Shastri, Marquette University
Devi Shastri is a junior at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she studies biomedical sciences, journalism and neuroscience. As a first-generation Indian-American, she takes pride in her ties to her Indian (Gujarati) roots and the Chicagoan lifestyle she was born and raised in. An aspiring science writer, she enjoys translating complicated topics for the general public. She aims to add a human element to every story and believes that scientific literacy is essential to social equality. She has interned for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, Marquette’s O’Brien Fellowship and will spend this summer in D.C. interning with Science Magazine.
High School Scholarship - $2,000
Elizabeth Varghese, Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School
Elizabeth Varghese is an Indian-American high school senior from Plainview-Old Bethpage, NY and will be attending the George Washington University’s 7-Year BA/MD Program in the fall. She is currently the editor-in-chief of her school’s newspaper, the Hawk Eye, and a writer for Brown Girl Magazine. Elizabeth is passionate about gender equality and social justice, as well as exploring the unknown through science research. She has spent many of her summers working in laboratories studying a variety of disciplines, from bioengineering to molecular biology. Elizabeth is also a Bharatanatyam dancer who loves to read during her spare time.
SAJA has awarded $40,000 in scholarships to help graduate, undergraduate and high school students pursue their education and future careers in journalism.
The SAJA Scholarships are made possible through generous contributions from the Krishna Kumar Gaur Scholarship Fund, the Arun I & Asmita Bhatia Foundation, and numerous individual and institutional donations. To donate to SAJA and help future scholarship classes: