UPDATE: Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship Deadline Extended to March 31st

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UPDATE! We’ve extended the deadline of our Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship to March 31st. Also, we are happy to announce two changes to the scholarship this year: 1) High schoolers interested in journalism are now eligible to apply, and 2) The scholarship amount has been increased to $1000.

The Philadelphia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is pleased to announce the Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship, which will award $1000 to a student of any race who intends to pursue a journalism career and who is of modest financial means.

Requirements are as follows:
1) Applicants must be a high schooler, college freshman, sophomore, or junior in the 2015-16 school year.
2) College student applicants must provide a copy of his/her most recently submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before receiving the scholarship money to show proof of financial need.
3) The winner needs to volunteer some time in 2016 to helping the Philadelphia chapter by recruiting other student journalists to the chapter or by assisting in organizing an event.

To apply, send:
1) A one-page essay describing your background, what you have done in journalism so far and what you plan to do in journalism as a career. Include your name, phone number, e-mail, and mailing address.
2) Names of two references, with phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
3) A transcript of your grades for college courses taken, or high-school grades if you are a freshman or high school student.

Email your application materials or any questions to AAJA-Philly’s Mentorship Director, Meeri Kim, by March 31st, 2016: meerinkim@gmail.com

Please note: Special consideration for this scholarship will be given to a student who is the first person in his or her family to go to college. The scholarship is to be used for college fees or books.

AAJA membership is not required to apply for the scholarship.

Selection process:
The AAJA-Philadelphia chapter board, former president Murali Balaji, and one non-AAJA individual who is a leader in the Asian American community will make up the selection committee.
Applicants will be asked to attend an in-person or virtual interview with the selection committee.
The winner will be announced by May 5th, 2016, and a check for $1000 will be mailed by May 31st, 2016.

The scholarship is in honor of Mrs. Vijaya L. Balaji, the late mother of former AAJA-Philadelphia president Murali Balaji. Mrs. Balaji was a committed supporter to the chapter, who believed in the education of minority journalists.

AAJA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and helping them enter and succeed in the news industry.

ANNOUCEMENT: Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship Now Accepting Applicants

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The Philadelphia chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is pleased to announce the Vijaya L. Balaji Scholarship, which will award $500 to a student who intends to pursue a journalism career and who is of modest financial means.

Requirements are as follows:
1) Applicants must be a college freshman, sophomore, or junior in the 2015-16 school year.
2) Applicants must provide a copy of his/her most recently submitted Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before receiving the scholarship money to show proof of financial need.
3) The winner needs to volunteer some time in 2016 to helping the Philadelphia chapter by recruiting other student journalists to the chapter or by assisting in organizing an event.

To apply, send:
1) A one-page essay describing your background, what you have done in journalism so far and what you plan to do in journalism as a career. Include your name, phone number, e-mail, and mailing address.
2) Names of two references, with phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
3) A transcript of your grades for college courses taken, or high-school grades if you are a freshman.

Email your application materials or any questions to AAJA-Philly’s Mentorship Director, Meeri Kim, by March 15th, 2016: meerinkim@gmail.com

Please note: Special consideration for this scholarship will be given to a student who is the first person in his or her family to go to college. The scholarship is to be used for college fees or books.

AAJA membership is not required to apply for the scholarship.

Selection process:
The AAJA-Philadelphia chapter board, former president Murali Balaji, and one non-AAJA individual who is a leader in the Asian American community will make up the selection committee.
Applicants will be asked to attend an in-person interview with the selection committee.
The winner will be announced by May 5th, 2016, and a check for $500 will be mailed by May 31st, 2016.

The scholarship is in honor of Mrs. Vijaya L. Balaji, the late mother of former AAJA-Philadelphia president Murali Balaji. Mrs. Balaji was a committed supporter to the chapter, who believed in the education of minority journalists.

AAJA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to improving the coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and helping them enter and succeed in the news industry.

Mentor of the Month: Roxanne Patel Shepelavy

Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our seventh Mentor of the Month is Roxanne Patel Shepelavy (@roxanneshep), Executive Editor of The Philadelphia Citizen. Ask her anything via roxanne@shepelavy.com.

Q: What is your current gig? How long have you been working there?

I am Executive Editor of The Philadelphia Citizen, a nonprofit media organization with a dual mission: To produce journalism with a solutions-oriented bent, and to engage the citizens of Philadelphia in making this city better. I’ve been a part of The Citizen for over a year. We started as a blog in November 2014, and are launching a full website in September 2015.

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Mentor of the Month: Porus Cooper

Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our eighth Mentor of the Month is Porus Cooper, Assistant New Jersey Editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ask him anything via poruscooper@hotmail.com.

Q: What is your current position/outlet?

I am currently Assistant New Jersey Editor at the The Philadelphia Inquirer, a position I have held for the last 4 years or so. I am nearing 30 years at the Inquirer.

Q: Did you always want to work in journalism? How did you break into the newspaper industry?

I became a journalist rather than a lawyer because my first job happened to be at a newspaper. I was also drawn to the law, and actually attended law school for a year. I “broke into the industry” quite by accident: I was attending law school when one of my childhood friends (who knew of my passion for journalism from my schooldays) noticed that the Times of India (I grew up in Bombay, India) had advertised for trainee journalists. I applied and was selected.

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At Philly’s new observation deck, voices of color shouldn’t be left out

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The view from One Liberty Observation Deck. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

AAJA-Philadelphia co-president Juliana Reyes was reporting a story last week when she came across something troubling.

The story was about how Philadelphia is getting its first observation deck this fall.
It’s an exciting development: On the 57th floor of Center City’s Liberty One skyscraper, the public will be able to see gorgeous 360-degree views of the city. They’ll also be able to explore an interactive map with historical information and facts about various landmarks around the city.

One Liberty Observation Deck, under the guise of observation deck operator Montparnasse 56, is working with four notable Philadelphians who will help curate content for the map — artist Isaiah Zagar, sports radio personality Mike Missanelli, DJ Cyndy Drue and VisitPhilly’s Cara Schneider. They’ll share anecdotes and their expertise about the city, so the map can have content that isn’t found in the history books or tourist guides, a spokeswoman said. But not one of those people are people of color, and in a city that’s roughly 46 percent white, 44 percent black, 13 percent Latino, and 7 percent Asian, that’s a mistake.

Through its interactive map, One Liberty Observation Deck has the power to shape how people see Philadelphia. It’s an opportunity to showcase the incredible diversity of the voices that make up our city. Leaving out voices of color sends the message that those stories aren’t as important.

This is a deck that’s built for the public. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure that the stories it shares represent the richness of Philadelphia: The stories we read — or don’t read — about our city impact how we see ourselves, how we understand our place in Philadelphia and its history.

When AAJA-Philly’s Reyes asked Evan Evans, general manager of the One Liberty Observation Deck, about this, he said he planned to add more content about landmarks going forward. A spokeswoman for the deck added that the four curators who are working on the project volunteered to do so after an open call “to a diverse, wide group” and that she hoped that more Philadelphians would do the same.

“The goal is to make it a robust portrayal of Philadelphia,” the spokeswoman said.

We hope One Liberty Observation Deck will turn to some of Philadelphia’s many impressive people of color to help tell a fuller story to its visitors. How about Philly’s first poet laureate Sonia Sanchez? Former Inquirer columnist Annette John-Hall? John Chin from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation?

Who would you like to see sharing stories for One Liberty Observation Deck’s map? Send your suggestions on Twitter to @PhillyFromTop and use the hashtag #MoreVoicesOnDeck

AAJA-Philadelphia, Board

Mentor of the Month: Nydia Han

Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our sixth Mentor of the Month is Nydia Han (@nydia_han), consumer reporter and co-anchor of Action News Sunday mornings for 6abc. Ask her anything via Nydia.H.Han@abc.com.

Q: What is your current position/outlet?

I’m an anchor/consumer investigative reporter/Troubleshooter for 6abc Action News, the ABC owned and operated station in Philadelphia. Our call letters are WPVI-TV.

Q: Did you always want to work in journalism? How did you break into TV news?

I went to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism with the intention of writing for magazines. I knew I wanted to be a journalist since high school but I accidentally “caught” the TV bug after doing an internship at KGO, the ABC station in San Francisco, while in college. I loved the medium… the power of moving pictures/audio, the immediacy, and the energy of the TV news environment.

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Mentor of the Month: Drew Lazor

Instead of a traditional paired mentor-mentee program this year, we are featuring monthly Q&A’s with mentors about how they broke into journalism, what their day is like, and any advice they have for young journalists. From there, students or anyone else (“mentees”) can email the mentors with any questions or set up informational interviews.

Our fifth Mentor of the Month is Drew Lazor (@drewlazor), a freelance food writer who has a regular column in Philadelphia Daily News and also has contributed to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Food Network, Serious Eats, and Lucky Peach. Ask him anything via andrewlazor@gmail.com.

Q: How long have you been a freelance writer? Did you have a full-time staff gig before you went freelance?

I’ve been working as a freelance writer full-time since June 2012. Before that, I worked at the Philadelphia City Paper for six years, most notably in an Associate Editor role, which involved everything from food/drink/film/music coverage to web/social media duties. Nowadays, I work both locally and nationally. I write a regular column for the Philadelphia Daily News, and also contribute to the Philadelphia Inquirer, philly.com and so on. Nationally, I’m a contributor to outlets like Food Network, Food Republic, Lucky Peach, PUNCH, Serious Eats, etc.

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