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White House Correspondents' Association 2013 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

The first and most important mission of the White House Correspondents' Association℠ is to promote journalism education. This year, thanks to the money raised at this dinner, we will give scholarships to 16 worthy college students, while funding programs for hundreds more in local DC high schools through our partnership with Prime Movers Media.


The White House Correspondents’ Association scholarship prize is a one-time award of $7,000. This year’s recipients are three students from Howard University. 

Karissa Braxton, Seattle, WA

Karissa Braxton, a junior at Howard University, dates the beginning of her interest in politics, news and media to Barack Obama's first Presidential Campaign. Karissa has made the Dean's List as a Broadcast Journalism major in both the College of Arts and Science and the School of Communications. Since 2011, she has interned for the Trinity Broadcast Network, Urban Forum Northwest and a law firm in Seattle. Karissa has also been a tutor in math and reading in the District of Columbia, a news reporter for the Spotlight TV Network and she has experience in sales and office management. Karissa is a Scholar in the Student Mentor Program and a recipient of a New Beginnings Christian Fellowship Scholarship.

Candy Crowley's strong and even-handed job as moderator of the second Presidential Debate during the 2012 election left a profound impression on Karissa. It reinforced her belief in the importance of journalists who work beholden to truth and facts rather than politics. Karissa hopes one day to emulate Candy Crowley's strong, inquisitive and irrefutably accurate brand of journalism.

Charmaine Angel Crutchfield, Ruther Glen, VA

For Charmaine Crutchfield, politics and journalism go “hand in hand.” A tenacious junior majoring in Broadcast Journalismat Howard University, Charmainehas internedat Meet the Press, Dateline NBC and Rock Center with Brian Williams. She has on-air radio experience from Urban Forum Northwest in Seattle, Washington and she is currently a news reporter for Howard’s News Spotlight PBS station on the university’s campus. Charmaine works as a news assistant at C-SPAN, a contributing writer for The District Chronicles and The Hilltop newspapers and she is a press intern for New York Senator Kristin Gillibrand. Charmaine will add certification in Applied Politics from George Washington University to her impressive list of credentials while remaining on the Dean’s List at Howard every semester. This year she will further her career at the Huffington Post and Cato Institute. It is Charmaine’s goal to become the best White House Correspondent she can be: one who is able to foster excellence in journalism for the next generation of students who share her passion for unbiased and accurate reporting.

Jobina Fortson, Atlanta, GA

Georgia native Jobina Fortson did not begin her freshman year at Howard University particularly interested in either journalism or the news. This accomplished scholarship winner credits her passion for journalism to a serendipitous mix of bright and competitive classmates, a superb Howard University faculty, exposure to discourse with varying  perspectives on endless topics and her good fortune to be attending college in the nation's capital. Once committed to a career in journalism, she has wasted no time striving for excellence.

Jobina has experience as a talk show host and on-air personality from two radio stations, internet and a local Seattle station. She is currently an intern at WJLA/ABC7 News and WHUR 96.3 FM. She is the Business Manager of Spotlight Network, a student-produced news magazine aired on Howard’s PBS station. Jobina is the recipient of the Ray Kroc Award and she is on the Dean's List at Howard.


In 2007, the White House press corps lost a fiercely independent and dedicated journalist: Deborah Orin.  For nearly 20 years as the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for the New York Post, Deborah epitomized the very best in journalism.  Always there with a tough question, an insightful quote, and a hard-hitting story, she brought to her craft the highest standards of excellence.  

Deborah Orin began covering New York politics in 1977, and a decade later moved to the nation’s capital where she reported on four U. S. presidents.  She firmly believed that the media needed a wider political perspective, that a diverse country needs a diverse press.  Deb lost her valiant battle with cancer, leaving behind her many friends, her husband, Neville, and colleagues on the White House beat.  When she died on January 28, 2007,  the New York Post wrote: “readers will miss her honesty and wisdom.”

Thanks to a gift, the WHCA has established the Deborah Orin Scholarship to benefit qualified students at her alma mater, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Two students will each receive a $5,000 scholarship, allowing them to pursue the craft Deborah Orin practiced every day.  We will miss her voice.  But this scholarship will allow a new generation of journalists to strive for Deb’s very high standards.

Orin scholarships

The recipients of this year’s Deborah Orin Scholarship are two current students from Medill School of Journalism.

Ashleigh Maria Joplin, Florissant, MO

Ashleigh Joplin knew that her goal was to become a foreign correspondent in Central America while she was an undergraduate at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Three separate opportunities to work in Central America only deepened her resolve to focus on international issues facing Spanish-speaking communities. Upon her return to this country, Ashleigh received a master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern in 2012. She plans to pursue similar assignments as a foreign correspondent in Spanish-speaking regions across the globe.

Vincent Edward Dixon, Chicago, IL

Vince Dixon is a graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he majored in print journalism. Vince has interned and free-lanced for The Chicago Tribune and Tribune newspapers. He is currently collaborating with classmates to create significant innovations in news media, as part of the graduate program's capstone project.



The White House Correspondents’ Association supports a student at the Medill School of Journalism through a $5,000 gift toward a post-graduate degree for a student in the Government and Public Affairs reporting track.

Brina Melissa Monterroza, Chicago, IL

Texas native Brina Monterozza is a graduate student at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She received a bachelor's degree with honors from the University of Houston and has completed internships at ABC StationKTRK –TV and Houston Television, a division of the mayor's office. Brina is particularly interested in public affairs reporting using videography to tell peoples' stories. She is currently living in the District of Columbia while participating in Medill's Washington Program.


The White House Correspondents’ Association awarded a $5,000 tuition grant in 2012-2013 to Omar Hasan Rahman, McLean, VA

Columbia University winner

Omar H. Rahman is a master’s degree candidate at Columbia’s Journalism School in New York and a Scholar in the International Fellows Program at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs. He arrived at Columbia an accomplished, published, multi-platform journalist with an unusual background.

Omar found his first job in journalism as a television stringer correspondent for the AP: employment he landed with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and experience as an intern with Al Jazeera in Washington, DC.  He considers himself fortunate to have been able to cover President Barack Obama’s 2008 election and first year in office. After one year with the AP, Omar made a personal decision to free-lance for three years in the Middle East. During this time he covered many of the most difficult socio-political problems in the region.  His articles were published in Rolling Stone,, The Guardian, Vice Magazine, Al Jazeera English and The National.

As an Arab-American of Palestinian and Lebanese descent, it is one of Omar Rahman’s goals as a journalist to help Americans better understand the complex issues that exist in the Middle East.



The White House Correspondents’ Association supported seven graduate students ($2,500 per student) to study in Washington, DC for a semester, as part of the University of Missouri’s well-established program. The University waived the balance of the tuition in return.

Alexandria Baca, Boynton Beach, Florida

Alexandria Baca is a reporting intern at the Dallas Morning News, Washington Bureau. She is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Missouri who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Florida. Alexandria will spend this spring in DC participating in Missouri’s Washington Program.

Anqi Du, Wuhan, China

Anqi Du is native of China who came to the US in 2009. She completed her undergraduate work cum laude at the University of Missouri in Broadcast Journalism where she is now enrolled in graduate school. She is currently a research assistant radio producer at Global Journalist and a graduate research assistant Chinese translator at the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition.

Yan Lu, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

Yan Lu, a native of China, is interning as a data assistant for NPR’s StateImpact project in Washington, DC. Her particular focus is on data mining and visualization. Yan Lu earned an undergraduate degree from Peking University and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism in December of 2012. She participated in Missouri’s Washington Program in the fall of 2012.

Ruisha Qian, Zhejiang, China

Ruisha Qian, a native of China, finished her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from China's Beijing Foreign Studies University. She has worked as a business and public life reporter at the Columbia Missourian, writer and producer for, and will continue pursuing her passion in business and financial journalism as an intern for Kiplinger this summer in D.C.


Gina Cook
, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Gina Cook holds a Summa cum Laude Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunication and Film from the University of Alabama. She is a teaching assistant for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a graduate student in journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism. Gina describes herself as passionate about multimedia. She will attend Missouri’s Washington Program this summer.

Kristopher ‘Kip’ Hill, Liberty, Missouri

Kip Hill is a self-described amateur comedian, now retired from cross country and track running. Kip enjoys reading (Japanese award-winning author) Haruki Murakami and commiserating with the Kansas City Royals when he is in-between deadlines. This proud Midwesterner holds a political science degree from Belmont University. He anticipates receiving a master’s degree in journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2013. Kip is a Kappa Tau Alpha Scholar and completed a Dow Jones News Editing internship. He participated in Missouri’s Washington Program in the fall of 2012.

Steven Rich, Collegeville, Pennsylvania

Steven Rich received a Cum Laude Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Virginia Tech. He is now a graduate student in the Missouri School of Journalism, working as an investigative reporting intern for the Washington Post. In that capacity he performs data and statistical analysis in the Post’s Investigations Unit. Steven expects to receive his master’s degree in May of 2013.


The White House Correspondents’ Association supports a student of The University of California at Berkeley through a $5,000 gift toward a post-graduate degree for a student in the Government and Public Affairs reporting track.


Angela Hart, Oakland, CA

US Army Veteran Angela Hart is a print and multimedia journalist who covers the environment, health care and her particular passion: politics. A proponent of what she describes as ‘explanatory journalism,’ Angela connects policy and politics to the lives of ordinary people. While currently pursuing a master’s degree at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, her thesis project investigates how the Affordable Care Act  may leave behind many of the neediest Americans living in the Bay Area. In the past year she has reported on the 2012 election, city finance, and home foreclosures in Oakland’s poorest neighborhoods. She has written for The Oakland Tribune, The San Francisco Press, The Huffington Post’s ‘’ and a local web publication, Oakland North.
While deployed in Iraq, Julia’s Military Police unit was one of the first on the ground to move from the Baghdad area into the Balad, in the Sunni Triangle. She credits her interest in journalism for keeping her going during this difficult time.


This $15,000 scholarship is funded by AOL and The Huffington Post. The recipient, chosen from a talented pool of applicants with Prime Movers Media is Brianna Little of Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, Washington, DC.

Brianna, a senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, has been involved with the school newspaper for three years and is currently editor-in-chief.  Her passion for social justice combined with her curiosity and love of language drive her dedication to be an objective and responsible journalist.


This $15,000 scholarship is given by The White House Correspondents’ Association. This year’s recipient, chosen from a talented pool of applicants with Prime Movers Media is Jabriel Ingram of Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, Washington, DC.

Jabriel is a senior at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School.  He has been very involved with the Journalism Club and is presently editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.  A responsible and receptive student he is dedicated to improving his skills as a journalist.


White House Correspondents' Association℠ PARTNERS WITH GW'S PRIME MOVERS

Prime Movers is an intensive journalism mentoring program based at George Washington University that sends interns from the School of Media and Public Affairs and professional journalists into urban high schools to start and support media programs. This year they are working with 10 DC public high schools.

In 2012, the WHCA℠ dramatically expanded its Prime Movers partnership role, increasing its financial support ($30,000) and more than quadrupling the number of events and correspondent-volunteers.

The 2012 Presidential Election provided a unique opportunity to give young journalists a real-time window into the election and to talk about the journalist's role in political coverage.

Correspondent teams visited students and discussed the latest news in the Republican primaries and White House reactions and campaign plans. Students turned the tables on the reporters, peppering them with questions about the
election and careers in journalism. Beyond these events, newsrooms offered class tours and top Prime Movers' students were invited to four White House Press Briefings. Special thanks to Michael Scherer of TIME, chairman of the Scholarship Committee, who was the chief WHCA℠-volunteer recruiter.

The mission of Prime Movers is to help students understand why journalism is important and why it's imperative to increase diversity in the industry and give voice to their communities.

prime movers
2011 Prime Movers Media (PMM) students Chelsea Green and Aaron Garvin visit the White House briefing room. Photo by Drew Angerer


For additional information about past winners, please visit the SCHOLARSHIP ARCHIVE page.

For more information, contact:
Julie Whiston, Executive Director WHCA, 202.266.7453  (click to send message)
Michael Scherer, TIME Magazine, 202 861.4092

2013 Howard University scholarship recipients with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Photos/Daniel P. Swartz


Full coverage of the pre-dinner introductions and the scholarship awards presentations. Photos/Daniel P. Swartz


C-SPAN DINNER/AWARDS COVERAGEWatch the C-SPAN video of the dinner, awards, and scholarship presentations at




2010 scholarships




President Bush climbs up on a chair to equalize the height differential between himself and 6' 8" David Rivelli. Photo/The Associated Press


2007 scholarships


For a list of WHCA℠ scholarship recipients since 1991, visit the SCHOLARSHIP ARCHIVE page, which also features links to videos of past dinners and scholarship presentations.



2012 SLIDESHOW - full coverage of the pre-dinner festivities and the scholarship awards presentations. Photos/Mike Theiler



The 2011 SLIDESHOW has a number of images of the reception and scholarship presentations.

 link to slideshow

Our 2010 SLIDESHOW features The President and Mrs. Obama, WHCA℠ members, journalism award winners, scholarship recipients, and some familiar faces from Washington and Hollywood. Flash player and a javascript-enabled browser are required to view the slideshow.

slideshow link


slideshow link



Watch WHCA℠ dinner videos dating back to 1993 on C-SPAN.ORG. Footage includes award presentations, scholarships, historical retrospectives, political humor,and some great "people watching" at the annual dinner.



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