IU graduate's unique gift reduces debt for nine journalism students

  • Aug. 18, 2015


Editors: Links to print-quality photos of each scholarship recipient are available with each biography below.

BLOOMINGTON -- An anonymous gift to The Media School at Indiana University will provide nine journalism juniors and seniors with new scholarships for the 2015-16 school year. The first of its kind for IU, the scholarship fund was created to reduce significant portions of recipients’ outstanding educational debt.

The scholarship will be applied to the recipients’ bursar accounts to eliminate any current outstanding tuition. Students will be able to use subsequent balances to pay off student loans and cover living expenses for the upcoming year.

IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith said the scholarship contributes to a university-wide effort to reduce debt and ensure financial stability for IU students.

“Through several progressive initiatives, IU is making unprecedented efforts to help students better manage their debt,” Smith said. “We are fortunate to have a graduate of IU step up and provide an innovative approach to private giving that will enable promising students to pursue their intended careers upon graduation. This funding will allow these students to make job choices based on their studies at IU and their true interest in journalism.” 

Recipient Leah Johnson said the scholarship will help fill in the gaps and cover expenses other scholarships cannot.

“I’m a 21st Century scholar, but I’ve been taking loans out to pay for books and cover basic costs of living,” she said. “This award will allow me to spend more time honing my craft as a journalist and less time working a minimum-wage job to try to pay back loans.”

Students receiving top evaluations from journalism faculty were invited to apply for the scholarship. The nine recipients went through an interview process with the donor and a committee composed of members from IU Foundation and the journalism faculty before officially receiving the award.

“Getting to meet with the donor was an award in itself,” recipient Megan Jula said. “I left the interview thinking that the outcome wouldn’t really matter because I had such an interesting conversation with a successful IU graduate.”

The benefits of the scholarship will extend beyond graduation, according to recipients. Senior Holly Hays said the scholarship will ease her entry into the professional world.

“It will be nice to be able to take my time and search for the job that I really want, not the job that I have to accept because my student loan payments start six months after graduation,” Hays said.

“We are all aware of the extent to which student debt has become a pressing issue. This scholarship is a very effective way to reduce debt for some students, as well as to start the conversation on other solutions to the issue,” said James Shanahan, dean of The Media School. “The trajectory toward success for these deserving students will be helped greatly by these innovative forms of assistance.”

The journalism program is now a part of The Media School, which was inaugurated in October of 2014. The school’s new curriculum will go into effect this fall and will continue to offer a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

The nine journalism students receiving an award are:

  • Hannah Alani, of Bloomington, Ind., a junior Ernie Pyle Scholar studying journalism and anthropology. She is a member of the Indiana Daily Student’s investigations team and has interned at the English Language Gazette in London, England, and the Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times.
  • Anne Brackemyre, of Zionsville, Ind., a senior pursuing degrees in journalism, political science and religious studies and a minor in Islamic studies. She has studied abroad at the London School of Economics and interned at IU Communications and IU’s Law and Public Policy Program.
  • Gregory Gottfried, of River Vale, N.J., a junior studying journalism and English. He is interested in sports journalism, covered sports for the Indiana Daily Student and interned for IU Athletics. Gottfried also is involved with WIUX student radio.
  • Kate Halliwell, of Lafayette, Ind., a junior majoring in journalism with a specialization in broadcast journalism. She spent her summer interning at Global Radio News in London, England, as a part of the Ernie Pyle Scholars’ Summer in London program.
  • Holly Hays, of Bloomington, Ind., a senior and Ernie Pyle Scholar. She is the summer editor-in-chief for the Indiana Daily Student. Hays has studied abroad in Spain and Europe and has interned at Morris Communications in London, England, and IU Health Bloomington Hospital.
  • Leah Johnson, of Indianapolis, a senior pursuing degrees in journalism and African American and African diaspora studies, and a certificate in political and civic engagement. She has interned at the English Language Gazette in London, England, WLPN Public Radio in Nashville, Tenn., and the Wall Street Journal in New York City.
  • Megan Jula, of Blacklick, Ohio, a senior majoring in journalism, Spanish and biology with a minor in Latino studies. She is an Ernie Pyle Scholar and member of the Indiana Daily Student staff. Jula has interned at the IU Hutton Honors College and is working for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix.
  • Samantha Schmidt, of Minneapolis, a senior Ernie Pyle Scholar. She is involved with the Indiana Daily Student and has interned with Dow Jones Newswire in London, England, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Anicka Slachta, of Grand Rapids, Mich., a senior in the journalism program. She is involved with the Indiana Daily Student and has interned at Bloom Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Related Links

James Shanahan

James Shanahan, dean of The Media School, said the anonymous gift will provide "trajectory toward success for these deserving students."

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

  • IU Communications
  • Office 812-855-0846
  • Cell 812-345-1500
  • IU Inc.

Anne Kibbler

Director of Communications and Media Relations

  • The Media School at Indiana University
  • Office 812-855-1703