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Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute: Fellows 2019


University of Illinois at Chicago

Chicago, IL

March 2nd & 3rd 2019

 Fellows Bios: Cohort II


    Olushola Aromona, M.A.Aromona

    PhD Candidate 

    Journalism and Mass Communication

    University of Kansas




Olushola Aromona is a doctoral student at the William Allen White School of Journalism, University of Kansas. Shola’s research interests are political communication, gender and sexuality, and social media for advocacy and social change. She has lived and academic experiences working with girls and young women in Northern Nigeria. She is presently interested in the interaction of gender in the political communication and campaigns. Shola joined the Anti-Slavery and Human Trafficking Initiative at the University of Kansas in Fall 2018 as a Graduate Research Assistant where she investigated the interplay of religion and trafficking in the Midwest. In addition, Shola currently serves as the Professional Freedom and Responsibility Chair of the Graduate Students Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).



    Yasmin Bendaas, M.A.

    Science Writer & Community Engagement Specialist

    Mass Communication: Science & Medical Journalism

    UNC Chapel Hill






Yasmin Bendaas is a Science Writer at EducationNC. A North Carolina native, she received her master’s degree in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill, where she was a Park Fellow. She received her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology in 2013 from Wake Forest University and double-minored in journalism and Middle East and South Asia studies. As a journalist, Bendaas has been funded twice by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for fieldwork in Algeria — first to cover a disappearing indigenous tattoo tradition, and again to look at how climate change affects rural sheepherding practices. Outside of her job writing about science education and student health, she's working on a podcast called Me and My Muslim Friends.



    Emily Case, M.A.

    Early Career Journalist

    Mass Communications: Professional Journalism University of Nebraska, Lincoln








Emily Case is the education reporter at the Norfolk Daily News in northeast Nebraska. She has a bachelor’s in English from Hastings College and master’s in journalism and mass communications from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. She became interested in covering émigré communities and immigration issues at UNL, where she also improved her skills as a multimedia journalist. In her master’s program, Emily produced numerous projects focused on immigrant and refugee communities in the Lincoln area, including a resource about the local Yazidi community for her master’s project. She has also produced multimedia projects for the American Press Institute and the UNL Global Eyewitness program. Most recently, she wrote a three-part series for the Lincoln Journal Star about the local economic impact of the Trump administration’s significantly reduced cap on refugee resettlements. A native of rural Nebraska, Emily hopes to combine her passions for community journalism and immigration coverage at the Muslim Women and the Media Institute.



    Khadija Ejaz, M.S.

    PhD Candidate

    Mass Communications: Critical Cultural Studies and Science Communication

    University of South Carolina, Columbia





Khadija Ejaz is an award-winning mass communication doctoral candidate at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include critical theory; much of her work has centered on the study of gender and postcolonialism. She has been published in the Journal of Communication Inquiry, Journal of Gender Studies, and Journalism Practice and has served as the instructor of record for undergraduate courses in research methods and writing. Her previous career was in information technology. She has also written several children’s books that were published in the United States, one of which won a South Asia Book Award in 2016.



    Sara Gama, M.A.

    Writer, Director

    School of Communications: Film and Video

    American University




Sara T. Gama is an American of Arab heritage who was born in Beirut, Lebanon and has lived in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University in Washington D.C. with a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Visual Media and a minor in Art History. She also earned a Postgraduate Diploma in 16mm and 35mm Filmmaking from the London Film School, and a Master of Arts in Film and Video from American University. Sara’s thesis film Drive about a Muslim-American teenage punk has screened in film festivals in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Filmed in partial fulfillment of her Master’s degree, Sara wrote, directed and co-produced the short film set in the Washington D.C. area. In addition to being a screenwriter and narrative filmmaker, Sara writes poetry and is a Fine Arts photographer. Her poetry has appeared in the Bethesda Writer’s Center and Corcoran School of Art’s joint multimedia exhibition and publication Ekphrasis, in the Bethesda Writer’s Center Writer’s Guide, and in We’Moon. Her photography most recently appeared in the online arts journal Jahanamiya’s Movement issue.



    Laura Lee Huttenbach, M.A.Huttenbach

    Journalism: Literary Reportage

    New York University



Laura Lee Huttenbach, an Atlanta native and a graduate of the University of Virginia, is the author of two books. The Boy is Gone (Ohio University Press, 2015) is the oral history of a Kenyan independence leader whom she met while backpacking in Africa. Running with Raven (Kensington, 2017) is the biography of Robert “Raven” Kraft, a South Beach legend who has run eight miles every day for the past 43 years and inspired more than 3,000 followers to lace up their running shoes and join him. In 2016, she moved to New York City as a graduate student and Chair’s Fellow at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. The city, where she lives with her husband, hasn’t let her go since.



    Amanda Jacquel, M.A.


    Apprenticeship program: Innovation and Journalism

    Celsa Paris Sorbonne

    TV Reporter

    France 2


My name is Amanda Jacquel. I am a 27 year-old reporter and camerawoman. I graduated last year from the journalism school "CELSA-Paris Sorbonne". I am currently working for a national French TV channel called "France 2" which has an office based in New Delhi, India. From there, we produce TV stories happening in south-eastern Asia. I am also part of an independent photographers group called "LaMeute", based in Paris and specialized in covering social movements in France. It was created in 2016 during the protest against the labor reforms. Last year, I was writing articles for the local online media "BondyBlog", which was created during the riots that spread through France in 2005. BondyBlog aims at giving voices to under-represented groups in mainstream news media coverage: inhabitants, especially youth, from the suburbs, France's Muslim communities, second and third-generation immigrants.



    Debra Kelly, M.A.

    PhD Candidate

    Journalism and Mass Communication

    University of Minnesota




Debra Kelley is a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication in Minneapolis. Her graduate research is focused on immigrant identity and media use. Her dissertation, “Immigrant news-attending patterns and trust in news sources” documents biased media coverage of Somali Muslim immigrants and provides insight into immigrant media needs and uses. Prior to graduate school, she served as Director of Communications and Admissions, Chief Innovation Officer and School Director for a Minnesota State agency. A seasoned communications consultant, she also has more than 20 years’ experience gained in corporations, hospitals, universities and professional service firms as co-founder and consultant with internationally-recognized communication and design firm, Hall Kelley, which garnered more than 100 awards for communication and design excellence.



    Aina KhanAina Khan

    Masters of Arts Candidate

    Religion in Global Politics

    School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) UK Features and News Writer

    Al Jazeera, ITV National News 

Aina J Khan is a London-based journalist who has written for Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, VICE, The Independent, and Middle East Eye. She has worked in broadcast and on numerous documentaries examining topical social issues such as integration, social mobility, feminism, and Islam with ITN Productions, Channel 4, BBC Three. Over the last three years, she has worked with Southbank Centre, the UK’s largest arts center, on the Women of the World (WOW) Bradford festival, which celebrates women and young girls and takes a frank look at the obstacles they face.



    Aysha Khan

    Social Media Editor: Religion News Service

    Multiplatform Journalism

    University of Maryland


Aysha Khan is a Boston-based journalist reporting on American Muslims for the Religion News Service, a non-profit news wire. Before that, she worked with ThinkProgress, American Journalism Review and the Journalism Center on Children and Families. She is an emerging journalist fellow with the Journalism & Women Symposium and a judge for the prestigious Goldziher Prize for journalists covering Muslims in America. Her newsletter, Creeping Sharia, focuses on journalism about Muslims in the U.S.



    Olivia Lui

    Visual Journalist, Freelance

    Journalism: International Photojournalism

    University of Missouri




Olivia Liu is a freelance journalist who recently graduated from the University of Missouri – Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and anthropology. Her work has been published in Voice of America, the China Open and the Columbia Missourian. She has a passionate for stories about minority culture.



    Ada Mullol 

    Masters of Arts Candidate

    Arab Studies

    Georgetown University

    Research Assistant, Freelance Journalist European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)






Ada Mullol is a journalist specialized in the Arab World. She studied a Master’s degree in International Relations (IBEI, Barcelona; and Sabancı University, Istanbul) and a Master in Arab Studies (Georgetown University, USA). Ada is currently working as Research Assistant at the Arab and Mediterranean World department of the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), and she is the Coordinator of a publication on the MENA region. She has published in international media covering political and social issues at large, and has also published articles focusing on Muslim communities. In 2018, Ada was awarded a reporting fellowship by the United Nations Foundation and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), “The World in 2030”, as a result of which she wrote and published several features on the current situation of Muslim women in the US.



    Ana Maria Ortega Perez, M.A.

    PhD Candidate


    University of Sevilla (Seville)

    Community Manager and Social Media




Ana María Ortega Pérez is a Journalist and have a master in International Relations. Currently, she is doing a PhD in Arab media and ownership. She has worked as a journalist in Diario de Jerez, La Comarca de Puertollano, Confidencial Andaluz and Noches del Sur. She is passionate about writing and researching about gender and Islam.



    Marjan Riazi, M.A.

    Journalism: News and Documentary

    New York University





Marjan Riazi is a graduate student at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute studying News and Documentary Film Production. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, Educational Studies, and Applied Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she previously worked in primary, secondary, and higher education. At the intersection of storytelling and education, Marjan views documentary journalism as a tool to encourage critical thought while inviting viewers to perceive identity, privilege, and inequality through a new lens. She is currently completing her thesis documentary on racial equity in the California cannabis industry and the Cultural Vistas Journalism in the Era of Disinformation Fellowship.



    Paromita Saha, M.A.

    PhD Student

    Mass Communication and Public Affairs

    Manship School of Mass Communication

    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Paromita Saha is from the United Kingdom with twelve years of industry experience working as a news journalist /producer for major British broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV news. She has also worked as a strategic communications lead on major public campaigns for the British government and non-profit sector. She is due to complete her PhD in 2019/2020 at the Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University. Her research interests include newsroom diversity and media leadership from the standpoint of intersectionality, critical race theory and organizational behavior. She also teaches classes in media ethics and philosophy; media writing and; multiculturalism and the media



    Sara Shaban, M.A.

    PhD Student

    Journalism, Media Sociology

    Missouri School of Journalism

    University of Missouri







Shaban is a second-year doctoral student at University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Sara conducts critical/cultural studies in media with a focus on women and social movements in the Middle East. Her work includes analyzing mainstream media reactions to both the Syrian refugee crisis and the lifting of the driving ban in Saudi Arabia. In addition, she has also studied the manifestation of affective relationships between activists in Ferguson, Missouri and the West Bank via alternative media. Sara is currently working on a project focused on the anti-compulsory hijab movements in Iran, “My Stealthy Freedom” and #WhiteWednesdays. 



    Cristina Sala i Soler, M.A.

    Associate Professor

    International Relations

    Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona (UPF)

    Research Assistant

    Middle East and North Africa Affairs

    Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB)




Cristina Sala is a journalist and an International Relations scholar specializing in the Middle East & North Africa. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations at Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) and she has completed a part of her studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Her areas of interest include peace studies and conflict resolution, political Islam and political transformation in the Arab World. She is currently assisting in the production of the H2020 MENARA project’s dissemination materials at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) and she has recently being lecturer of International Relations at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF).



    Shara Taylor, M.A., M.S.

    Journalism, Reporting the Nation: New York University

    Education, Sport Management: Old Dominion University

    Management Assistant: Cushman and Wakefield







It is with great enthusiasm that Shara Taylor joins the Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute. She brings her education, experience in television journalism, and interest in diversity. She is fascinated by topics that explore culture, health, and sports and enjoys sharing these stories through her reporting. She believes the Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute will help her to become a better journalist. Shara received a Master’s degree in Journalism in 2013 from New York University. There she received training as a Multimedia Journalist in the Reporting the Nation/Reporting New York program. She developed skills in reporting, anchoring, photography, videography, writing, and video editing through course work. She also has experience as a Graduate Assistant in the Journalism Video Equipment Room, and through internship work experience. Shara gained invaluable experience as an intern in New York City, while pursuing her degree. She worked in high-pressure newsrooms, with strict deadlines at several different television news stations. Her responsibilities included assisting in the newsroom and in the field with research, interviewing, shot adjustments, logging, and editing. She had the opportunity to intern at NBC Universal, with WNBC Sports Anchor Bruce Beck and with Al Sharpton at Politics Nation at MSNBC.

She also worked as an intern with Fox 5 WNYW's Investigative Unit and NY1’s Living Unit and volunteered with both sports departments during this time. These various experiences allowed her to gain insight in different areas of journalism. Following graduation, Shara produced freelance news stories on sports topics such as the New York Liberty and NFL players' career transitions. She also volunteered as a freelance guest host for events and radio. Shara later worked as a general assignment television reporter for NBC affiliate news stations in Wyoming, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In addition to breaking news, she covered a variety of topics including sports, court cases, health, environmental topics, community events, and legislation. She also explored cultural topics including stories with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Native American Tribes, on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming; a community event to explore the culture of Muslim women in Rockford, Illinois; and a law suit brought forth by Muslim employees with a company in Wisconsin. Additionally, Shara received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Hampton University and a Master’s degree in Sport Management from Old Dominion University. She has worked with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, for the New York City government, and utilized her Sports Management degree through employment with the Miami Heat and the Miami Dolphins. Today Shara presently writes sports articles for the New York Beacon, a print and online publication in New York City and works as an assistant at A+E Networks. Shara believes her education and career experiences in diverse areas have helped prepare her to become a well-rounded journalist with dynamic thinking. She feels that training offered through Muslim Women and the Media Training Institute will help her make significant contributions to any future position with a news or television organization.



    Elisa Pont Tortajada, M.A. 

    Comparative Studies of Literature, Art and Philosophy Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona (UPF) Assistant Press Officer

    European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed)







Journalist specialized in cultural and social fields. Recently, assistant press officer at the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). I studied a Degree in Journalism at the University of Valencia (Spain) and then I moved to Barcelona to study a Master in Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Philosophy at the Pompeu Fabra University. I lived in France and also in Belgium with the aim to enhance my knowledge about communication and international relations. Content writer for the online magazine Cultural Resuena.

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