Meet the Reporters 2015


 LaurenceLaurence Bekk-Day is currently pursuing his dual M.S. degree at Columbia’s Journalism School and at Sciences Po University in Paris, France. He graduated from the Sorbonne, where he majored in history and English. Since then, he has covered culture for French magazines. He hopes to focus on print and web journalism after graduate school, covering social and educational issues, in-depth personal stories, and technology. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @labekkday.


CecileCecile Borkhataria is a full time M.S student interested in covering science and animal rights stories. She received her BSc in biology with management from Imperial College London, where she wrote for her student newspaper, the “Felix,” as fashion editor. Cecile is British with French and Indian origins, and speaks both English and French fluently. She has worked as a digital marketing intern at Terrapinn, where she managed social media accounts and wrote for two websites, Total Orphan Drugs and Vaccine Nation, both pertaining to the pharmaceutical industry. You can reach her at or @cecileborkh.


AssilAssil Frayha is an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School. Originally from the Middle East, Frayha grew up in Lebanon and graduated from the American University of Beirut with a B.E. in mechanical engineering and a minor in creative writing. She later moved to Dubai, UAE, where she worked in oil and gas for two years. She is interested in covering social and political issues and in studying the dynamics of the relationships between people and media. She can be reached at and followed at @assilfrayha.


EmmaEmma Kazaryan is a journalist and M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School. She is originally from Georgia, but lived in Russia before moving to New York in 2008. She graduated from Baruch College, City University of New York with a B.A. in journalism and creative writing and a minor in photography. At Baruch, she worked as an editor and photographer for Dollars and Sense, a National Award-winning student publication. She is interested in covering international conflicts and visual storytelling. Contact her by email at or follow on Instagram @emmkabyf.


AdamAdam Kelsey is a native of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, currently pursuing his M.S. at Columbia Journalism School. He is a 2013 graduate of The George Washington University, where he studied political science and creative writing. While there, he also broadcast GW sports for WRGW District Radio and contributed to the production of ESPN’s “Around the Horn.” He spent the last two years with Teach for America, teaching social studies at Benjamin E. Mays High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He can be reached at and followed at @adam_kels.


DivyaDivya Kumar is a reporter for the Midtown Gazette. She is currently pursuing an M.S. at Columbia Journalism School. Kumar graduated from the University of South Florida, in Tampa, with B.S. degrees in mass communications and economics. She served as the editor in chief of the university’s newspaper, The Oracle, where she covered student government, campus administration and policy, and other student activities. Kumar previously worked as a freelance reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and interned at ABC News and the Associated Press. She is interested in covering poverty, gender and mental health. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter or Instagram @divyadivyadivya.


WendyWendy Lu is a reporter for The Midtown Gazette and an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014, with majors in journalism and psychology. Before graduate school, Wendy was the digital marketing manager for an executive recruitment firm in Cary, N.C. She has written for several print and online publications, including and Chapel Hill Magazine. She hopes to specialize in long-form journalism about health, social justice issues and U.S.-China relations. You can follow Wendy on her blog at or on Twitter at @wendyluwrites, or email her at


ThuliNokuthula Manyathi has an undergraduate degree in media studies and international relations, and an honors degree in journalism from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is her first time in the United States. She is pursuing an M.S. degree from the Columbia Journalism School, where she hopes to improve both her writing and multimedia skills. Prior to attending Columbia, she worked in South Africa as an online reporter for the  national newspaper City Press and a year later she moved to work at a woman’s interest magazine were she curated multimedia content. She has an interest in transportation and civil society. Her short term goals are mastering the subway system and surviving the below zero New York winters that are foreign to her. Contact her at or on Instagram @Thuls11 or on Twitter @Thuls11.

 ShannonShannon Najmabadi is an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with dual degrees in legal studies and media studies, and spent the following year working at a law firm. While an undergraduate, Najmabadi interned at the San Francisco district attorney’s office and at various media outlets, including Al Jazeera America. She is half-Chinese and half-Iranian, and previously studied abroad in Shanghai and Bangkok, where she taught English in the city’s red-light district. You can contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @SNajmabadi.


StassyStassy Olmos is 22 years old, comes from Los Angeles, Calif. and is currently obtaining her M.S. degree from Columbia Journalism School. She has a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in social entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. She has worked at Annenberg TV News as an anchor, reporter and multimedia journalist and interned at the CBS Investigative Unit in LA. Olmos has also won top national Hearst Journalism awards for her broadcast pieces. Her main interests include homelessness, mental health, equality, education and women’s rights. You can contact her at or follow on Twitter @stassyoh and Instagram @stassyolmoslive.


JingJingnan Peng is an M.S.candidate at Columbia Journalism School. He previously interned for Agence France-Press in Beijing and Yale University Press in New Haven. Born and raised in China, he had 11 years of Math Olympics training. At Yale, he studied French and German literature, made short documentaries about refugees and artists, wrote about piracy and violence, and choreographed a mime piece about conformity. He seeks stories that move people and create empathy in society. Email:; Facebook: Jingnan Peng; Twitter and Instagram: jingnanpeng.


ArianaAriana Pyles is a native of Los Angeles, California. She recently received her B.A. in mass media arts, magna cum laude, from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, with a concentration in television that enabled her to work on interviews that included Kanye West collaborator Cyhi Tha Prynce and Dondria. Ariana interned at CBS in the media relations department and produced materials for shows including Mom, The Talk and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. She has also published film reviews for several Atlanta media companies, including Radio One, Inc. stations. She is currently pursuing her M.S. degree in journalism at Columbia Journalism School. Ariana can be reached via Instagram @thepylesreport or email at


KathrynKathryn Thomson is an M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School, where she is focusing on broadcast journalism. Originally from Pasadena, Calif., Kathryn graduated cum laude from the University of Richmond in May with a B.A. in leadership studies and journalism. She has worked with the NBC Los Angeles political team, at Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, ABC’s Nightline, WRIC in Richmond and as a reporter for The Prague Post while she studied abroad in the Czech Republic. Kathryn has a passion for travel and politics and can be reached at or follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @katiemthomson


ChristineChristine Trudeau is a citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, and holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a former intern with the Diversity Department at NPR, and continues to freelance with National Native News, Native Peoples Magazine, and NPR. Trudeau is a candidate in the M.S program at Columbia Journalism School, with a special interest in broadcast journalism. Follow her @deaulou.



ShushmaSushma Udipi Nagendran, from India, covers business for The Midtown Gazette. A sociology graduate from the University of Madras, India, she veered into business journalism after a serendipitous summer internship with a financial daily, and has been interested in business reporting ever since. She has worked as a reporter covering the energy, e-commerce, retail and hospitality sectors in India, first for The Hindu Business Line and then for The Times of India. She is now at Columbia Journalism School to deepen her reporting skills for a career as a journalist covering corporate news and trends, and business policy. Contact her at


James James K. Williamson is a journalist and M.S. candidate at Columbia Journalism School. He hails from South Carolina and graduated from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC in 2012 with a BA in writing. Since then, James has worked for SiriusXm, the Oxford American magazine of Southern writing, the Coastal Observer, and has freelanced for Vice and American Songwriter. He is interested in human interest stories and profiles. Contact him at or follow him on twitter: @jimbillson. For clippings visit






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