Meet the 2022 class of summer academy fellows


Arlington, Va.– PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) has selected 27 up-and-coming storytellers from across the country for its annual summer academy, which will take place at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University in Phoenix from June 23-29 after two years of virtual bootcamps.

In its eighth year, the signature, award-winning academy is a highly-selective, intensive video journalism fellowship for high schoolers. All travel and accommodation costs are covered by the PBS NewsHour.

During the immersive fellowship, fellows will be coached and mentored by SRL youth media producers and work in teams to produce original video news reports. Fellows will learn from industry professionals and meet correspondents, producers and journalists from Arizona PBS, PBS NewsHour West and other local news organizations.  

“The unique educational experience connects students to media professionals and teaches vital video journalism, production and communication skills,” says Leah Clapman, SRL founder and executive director of education for the PBS NewsHour.

Beyond video production, fellows engage in conversations about the future of journalism, public media and the most important issues of their generation—an integral part of SRL’s mission. The week will culminate in a showcase, where the cohort will present their work.

Meet the distinguished fellows:

NAME: Ajani Obaseki

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: District of Columbia International School

LOCATION: Washington, DC


Ajani Obaseki is a sophomore at District of Columbia International School. He is currently taking an Advanced Video Production course and it is his favorite subject in school. Outside of school and video production, Ajani has an interest in other forms of art. Since he was 2 years old, he’s liked to draw. He is also a performing artist. Since he was 10 years old, he’s been a part of the performing arts company, CenterStage academy for the Arts (CSAA), formerly known as Urban Change. At CSAA, he takes acting, singing, and dancing classes, which eventually lead to a showcase for all the students to perform. He loves performing arts because he gets to express himself through movement and voice.

NAME: Akilah Lewis

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: John F. Kennedy High School

LOCATION: Silver Spring, MD

LOCAL STATION: Maryland Public Television

Akilah is a junior at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her favorite things to do are play volleyball, sleep, and spend time with her friends. In school, she is an AP and IB student with video production as her favorite class. She is most excited to be able to go out of state to get this experience and also bond with people who have the same interest.

NAME: Alexa D’Amato

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Masconomet Regional High School



Alexa is a junior at Masconomet Regional High School. Her favorite subjects are Media Communications and English. She enjoys psychological thriller movies and loves listening to music in her spare time. She’s extremely excited to learn alongside other students who share her passion for storytelling and video production.

NAME: Alexis Schmidt

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Frederick V. Pankow Center

LOCATION: Harrison Township, MI


Alexis is a junior at the Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan.  Her favorite subject is TV & broadcast media.  When she’s not in school, she likes to watch movies & tv, make jewelry, crochet, listen to music, and read books. She’s most excited to meet the other students and learn with them.

NAME: Brianna Schmidt

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Frederick V. Pankow Center

LOCATION: Harrison Township, MI


Brianna is a junior at the Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan. Her favorite subjects in school are broadcast media and biology. When she’s not in school, she likes to make jewelry, watch movies, crochet, hangout with friends, and go to concerts. She’s most excited to learn new things, make friends, and see how different the environment is in Arizona.

NAME: Caedmon Peterson

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL:District of Columbia International School

LOCATION: Washington, DC


Caedmon Peterson loves all things outdoors, photography, and travel. He is in Boy Scouts and enjoys getting outside and exploring with his friends. I have no better experience when going on a long backpacking trip, visiting a national park, or participating in outdoor activities like fishing and camping. He has an interest in video and would be excited to make his own movie or documentary. After college, he wants to travel North America doing “van life.” He wants to see new places and meet new people and document it all with photography and video.

NAME: Dakota Hendren

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Royal Oak High School



Dakota is a junior at Royal Oak High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. Her favorite subjects in school are advanced broadcasting and science. She enjoys many art forms including video and ceramics. Dakota likes use traveling and new experiences as a means of storytelling. She is excited to collaborate with other students from around the United States and learn new techniques with them at the academy.

NAME: Elizabeth Pegg

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Hempfield High School

LOCATION: Lancaster, PA


Lizzie is a sophomore at Hempfield High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. French, Psych, and Communication Tech are some of her favorite classes in school this year. When she can, Lizzie likes to listen to music, talk to friends, and be outside. She’s looking forward to learning new things and broadening her skillset.

NAME: Emit Brown

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Eagle Valley High School



Emit is a sophomore at Eagle Valley High School in the small town of Gypsum, Colorado. He enjoys story telling, writing non stop, traveling, and acting. They are overly optimistic about getting into the SRL academy for the first time. He can’t wait to make new friends and even visit their top college.

NAME: Faiza Ashar

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Eastern Tech High School

LOCATION: Middle River, MD

LOCAL STATION: Maryland Public TV

Faiza is a junior at Eastern Tech High School in Baltimore, Maryland. Enrolled in the school’s interactive media production program, she loves everything multimedia and English-related. Outside of academics, she is involved with a variety of affinity/activism groups in and out of school while devoting time to writing. After months of Zoom interviews and recordings, she is most excited to gain hands-on journalism experience as well as meeting other like-minded students at the academy.

NAME: Giovanny Soriano

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: East Leyden High School

LOCATION: Franklin Park, IL


Giovanny Soriano is a junior at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Illinois. His favorite subjects are Math and English. When he’s not in class, he loves to play sports, hang out with friends, and watch movies. He’s energized about meeting the other students who are just as passionate about storytelling as he is at the academy.

NAME: Ingrid Ramos-Aranda

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Cass Technical High School



As a sophomore at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI, Ingrid’s newly discovered interest was found in her journalism class. When she’s not in school she’s working on after school center, teaching piano to elementary and middle schoolers and leading her teen coworkers. She can’t wait to find other students around her age, that also love journalism!

NAME: Jianlan Busteed

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Diamond Bar High School

LOCATION: Diamond Bar, CA


Jianlan is a sophomore at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, California. As a writer for her high school paper, she gets to publish cool stories each month. She also loves reading, running, and playing soccer. Through these activities she learns new things and makes friends. She can’t wait to meet people who share her love of storytelling.

NAME: Johann Rodriguez Viera

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Holbrook Middle High School

LOCATION: Holbrook, MA


Johann is a sophomore at Holbrook Middle High School in Holbrook, Massachusetts. He loves to play football with his friends in the fall, he loves going out and trying new things. His favorite subjects are English and video production because he loves to tell stories. He is incredibly grateful for this opportunity that he has been given.

NAME: Kennedy Owens

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Sickles High School



Kennedy Owens is currently a sophomore at Sickles High School in Tampa, Florida. When not at school, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and creating YouTube videos. She hopes to continue honing her video journalism skills in her upcoming visit to Arizona.

NAME: Liam Wady

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Oakland Military Institute



Liam Wady is a junior at Oakland Military Institute and one crazy fun fact about him is that he is a triplet. He loves to dance, swim, read, do all sorts of stuff with his friends across the Bay, and most definitely write. He’s excited to meet new people and to go to Arizona.

NAME: Lily Ramos

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: Trumbull Career & Technical Center

LOCATION: Cortland, OH

LOCAL STATION: PBS Western Reserve

Lily Ramos is a senior at the Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Warren, Ohio. They are in the interactive multimedia lab where they compete in different video production competitions. Their favorite school subject is Film & Literature and they work at a local BBQ! They love all things horror and even work at a haunted house in October. They’re very excited to travel and meet new people in Phoenix!

NAME: Luna Adams

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: LaGuardia High School



Luna Adams is a junior at LaGuardia High School in New York City. It is a Performing Art School where she studies voice. She sings mostly classical and opera in a variety of different languages. In addition to this she runs cross country and track after school. Her real passion though is filmmaking which is what she is planning to study in college and go on to pursue. Luna’s favorite films to make are experimental and documentary but this can always change as she is still learning and studying with a program called DCTV. She is looking forward to being in a whole new setting and exploring the new creativity that will bring her and her peers together.

NAME: Maikel De Avila

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: Alief Kerr High School



Maikel is a senior at Alief Kerr High School in Houston, TX. He plans to attend Arizona State University with a concentration in Business Administration and a minor in Media Analysis. When he’s not taking pictures for his school’s newspaper, you can find him at your nearest Starbucks, watching movies at home, or climbing mountains across the U.S. Maikel is delighted to be a part of this year’s SRL program and hopes to make the most out of this unique educational experience.

NAME: Mariana Arboleda

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Brentwood High School

LOCATION: Brentwood, NY


Mariana is a high school junior at Brentwood High School in Brentwood, New York. Her favorite subjects are Digital Filmmaking, where she was able to develop her social skills, and her AP Lang class where she sharpens her writing skills and learns how to write formally and faster. In her downtime, she usually watches Korean dramas, plays games such as Genshin Impact, or just rests and reads books. Reading sparked her curiosity about the world, and is one of the reasons why she became so interested in storytelling.

NAME: Marlo Brown

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Cape May Technical High School

LOCATION: Cape May Courthouse, NJ


Marlo is a junior at Cape May Technical High School, doing creative writing and Communication Arts, she spends her time watching and making movies. She can’t wait to meet likeminded peers and make a difference at the academy this summer!

NAME: Maximillian Allen

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Caesar Rodney High School



Maximillian is a sophomore at Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Delaware. When he is not in school, he likes to hang out with his friends. He also likes to play video games and watch sports. He is most excited to meet new people outside of his small state and learn a lot about journalism.

NAME: Natalie Lett

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Kauai High School



Natalie is a junior at Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawai’i. Her favorite subjects in school are history, writing, psychology, and digital media. She has also been involved in canoe paddling, cheerleading, debate, theatre, and mock trial. When she’s not in school she likes to go to the beach. She is most excited for the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other students and professionals that she can learn from.

NAME: Orion Boone

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Sickles High School



Orion is a junior at Sickles High School in Tampa, Florida. He has a passion for all things journalism, but also loves English and History. When he’s not at school, he works on his biweekly podcast, plays dungeons and dragons and works at his part-time job scooping ice-cream. At the academy, he’s really looking forward to learning all he can and helping others do the same.

NAME: Roberto Suarez

GRADE: 11th

SCHOOL: Rockville High School

LOCATION: Rockville, MD

LOCAL STATION: Maryland Public TV

Berto is a junior at Rockville High School that strives to be a content creator on the Internet and bring joy to the people around him. He’s involved in his broadcast journalism program at school and constantly makes segments for the morning announcements that the students have given much positive feedback on. While he struggles to find many people that understand his passion, he consistently works hard to try to make people laugh every day, through the use of unique humor, clever punchlines, and awareness of relevant topics to his audience. He’s very good with connecting and entertaining viewers. He’s very excited to be working on a big project with fellow filmmakers and hopes to improve his skills but most of all make some friends.

NAME: Savanna Atstupenas

GRADE: 10th

SCHOOL: Lincoln High School



Savanna is a sophomore at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Her favorite subjects are Journalism, Gym and English. She spends most of her free time doing extra journalism work, hanging out with her friends, and playing sports. She hopes for this experience to open up other opportunities for her in the future and she hopes to meet other students that share some of the same passions.

NAME: Tiffany Rodriguez

GRADE: 12th

SCHOOL: Franklin Learning Center High School

LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA


Tiffany is a senior at Franklin Learning Center High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she studies Instrumental Music as a Music Major. Her favorite subjects are all of her music classes and English, as well as Musical Theatre club and WHYY Media Labs club. Outside of school, she enjoys a plethora of hobbies such as (but certainly not limited to) creative writing, playing guitar, gaming, drawing and just hanging out with her closest friends. She’s super excited to meet new people and hear their unique story ideas and watch them come to life at the summer academy.