Class of 2013

Mea Ashley

Mea Ashley covers the Dominican community for the New York Torch.

A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she is a self-proclaimed true “Southern Belle.” Mea graduated from Jackson State University this year magna cum laude with a degree in Multimedia Journalism.

Mea has interned for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Channel 16 WAPT News, an ABC affiliate. She has also done work for TV23 in Jackson, hosting the television show “Community Focus,” anchoring news updates, and editing video.

In addition to being a journalist, Mea hopes to become an author and motivational speaker.


Yvonne Bang

Yvonne Bang covers the Italian community for the New York Torch. 

Born and raised in southern California, Yvonne graduated from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in English, Literary Journalism, and History. She has written for the New University and interned at Orange Coast Magazine in Newport Beach.

Yvonne is interested in becoming a full-fledged multimedia reporter, breaking news stories about the environment, science, and arts/culture.  She adores most the style and genre of 20th Century New Journalism.

When she’s not reporting, you’ll find her catching up on her reading list, spending time with her dogs, or writing her magnum opus–there’s at least one in all of us.

Apart from reporting, Yvonne also handles the website for the New York Torch.


Magdalene Castro

Magdalene Castro covers the Egyptian community for the New York Torch.

A Dominican-American, she graduated from the City College of New York with degrees in International Studies and Asian Studies. She interned at a Harlem radio station and with MTV’s International Communications Department.

As an undergraduate, Magdalene was both a triathlete and the captain of the women’s fencing team. Her love for sports is almost as big as her love and passion for dance. She is a lyrical hip-hop and salsa dancer who has won many dance competitions.



William Denselow

William Denselow covers the Palestinian community for the New York Torch.

From London, England, he graduated from Leeds University with degrees in both Politics and Middle Eastern Studies. He also spent six months studying in Lebanon at the American University of Beirut.

William has had stints at the House of Commons, Sky News, and Sky Sports, where he helped out at the tennis desk. He also worked for the African politics publication Africa Confidential as a writer and researcher.

A keen sportsman, he played cricket and soccer in England and is up for learning the sports America offers.


Jay Devineni

Jay Devineni (de-vuh-NEE-nee) covers the Senegalese community for the New York Torch.

He earned degrees in Chemistry, Communication Studies (with a film emphasis), and Liberal Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City this year. He fell in love with journalism while taking writing and reporting classes during his undergraduate education, and became interested in broadcast work through his film background.

He served as alma mater’s student body president and ran Division I cross country and track. A St. Louis native, he is also a proud alumnus of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.



Lorelai Germain

Lorelai Germain covers the Irish community for the New York Torch. 

Lorelai graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in English Literature. She worked as an intern at Seattle’s CBS affiliate and as a reporter for The Daily at the University of Washington. She is self taught in business and economics and hopes to work later as a business reporter.



Shaukat Hamdani

Shaukat Hamdani (SHAW-cut hum-DAH-nee) covers the Liberian community for the New York Torch.

A journalist from Lahore, Pakistan, he was part of a team that launched a local news channel, Express 24/7. He earned a degree with honors in Social Sciences from LUMS in Lahore.

He frequently blogs at



Stephen Jiwanmall

Stephen Jiwanmall (JEE-wun-mall) covers the Trinidadian community for the New York Torch.

A native Philadelphian, he has interned at a number of local news outlets, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Business Journal, and the city’s FOX and PBS affiliates. He graduated from La Salle University this year with a degree in Communication, concentrating in Journalism and Mass Media.

Stephen is proud of his Indian and Pakistani heritage and looks for ways to learn more about his culture. He casually plays a South Asian instrument called the harmonium and sings in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi while leading his church’s choir and worship team. He also was a member of La Salle Nachle, the university’s bhangra and Bollywood fusion dance team, for four years.

Apart from reporting, Stephen also handles the website for the New York Torch.


Dhiya Kuriakose

Dhiya Susan Kuriakose (DHEE-ya KOO-ree-ah-kose) covers the Sri Lankan community for the New York Torch.

She earned a degree in English Literature from Stella Maris College in Chennai, India. Dhiya was President of the student body and pioneered various initiatives at Stella Maris. She also has a diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism.

Dhiya has strong connections to home and is very proud of her Indian culture and heritage. She loves dogs, running,and chocolate. She frequently blogs at

Apart from reporting, Dhiya also handles the website for the New York Torch.


Colleen McKown

Colleen McKown covers the Indian community for the New York Torch.

Colleen grew up in the beautiful mountains of Brevard, North Carolina. She graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in 2008.

Colleen loves to travel and spent the last year in India, where she taught school and wrote for a Tibetan newspaper. Colleen has also worked as a documentary intern and high school admissions officer.

She hopes to work in documentary and long-form television. She is interested in covering issues related to culture, ethnic identity, and religion, as well as international reporting.


Ntshepeng Motema

Ntshepeng Motema (en-SEP-eng mo-TAY-mah) covers the Malian community for the New York Torch.

Ntshepeng graduated from Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa with degrees in Journalism and African Studies.

She worked as a weekly current affairs show producer for eNews Channel Africa. She has also reported in various parts of Africa including Rwanda, South Sudan and Madagascar.

Ntshepeng is also the photo editor for the New York Torch.

Michael Orr

Michael Orr covers the Puerto Rican community for the New York Torch.

Michael worked as an associate producer at MSNBC. He has also worked at the Weekend Today Show and CNBC’s Mad Money as an NBC East Coast page. He enjoys covering politics and business.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication and International Studies from the University of Miami.


MaryAlice Parks

MaryAlice Parks covers the Syrian community for the New York Torch.

Originally from Tacoma, Washington, she earned bachelor’s degrees in History and in Political Science from Columbia University.

While a student at Columbia, she worked as a columnist for the daily campus newspaper the Columbia Spectator and directed several student theater productions. She has worked on amateur film projects and in new media and communications.

MaryAlice is also part of the Documentary Film-Making program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


Nia Phillips

Nia Phillips covers the Cuban and Brazilian communities for the New York Torch. 

She graduated from Wellesley College this year with degrees in Political Science and Spanish. She has worked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a multimedia journalism intern. Nia hopes to work as a sports journalist or for an international news organization.

Nia is a Pittsburgher in every sense. She enjoys stressing about the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates, eating Smiley cookies and sandwiches from Primanti Bros. She is also a big soccer fan and enjoys watching La Liga matches after studying abroad in Córdoba, Spain. She is a jazz pianist and has studied the instrument since she was five. She enjoys discovering new ice cream and cupcake shops and loves British culture.

Nia is the social media editor for the New York Torch.


Griselda Ramirez

Griselda Denise Ramirez covers the Mexican community for the New York Torch.

She graduated from Santa Clara University and earned degrees in Spanish Studies and Marketing. While at Santa Clara, she studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, where the journalism bug struck her.

She wrote about her Mexican-American experience in the United States while interning for Topka, a children’s book publishing company in Spain. This experience shifted her career path and prompted her to leave a stable job in marketing and customer service for an unpaid internship at Univision 67, a news affiliate of the top Spanish-language network in the nation. This  attitude paid off when a short time later she was hired as a reporter for The Salinas Californian, her hometown newspaper.


Rebecca Sanchez

Rebecca Sanchez covers the Iranian community for the New York Torch.

A Cuban-American from Miami, she earned a liberal arts degree, with a concentration in Anthropology, from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She spent a semester in Thailand, exploring Thai studies, working with a nonprofit, and conducting fieldwork for an ethnographic work on prostitution in Thailand.

After leaving Sarah Lawrence, Rebecca worked as a marketing coordinator and copywriter in Chicago, and as the executive assistant to the President Emeritus of Florida International University.


Charlotte Stafford

Charlotte Stafford covers the Bangladeshi community for the New York Torch.

Originally from London, England, she earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Leeds, where she was an arts correspondent for the student radio station. Since graduating, she has worked with British outlets including the BBC, Channel 4 News, Sky News and the Sunday Express Newspaper.

Charlotte is interested in covering foreign affairs, especially African politics, having spent several months leading a team of students on a charity project to Uganda. She also lived and worked in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand after leaving school. She is a huge film and theatre fan.


Christina Thorne

Christina Thorne covers the Jamaican community for the New York Torch.

A Midwesterner through and through, Christie grew up in Chicago and then moved to Indiana to attend college. She received her degree in Journalism from Indiana University – Bloomington. She volunteered in Brazil but eventually moved back to Chicago to pursue a career in advertising and marketing.

Christie loves reading anything and everything non-fiction, watching Investigation Discovery true crime documentaries until the wee hours of the morning, and discovering new music (of ALL kinds) and has a bucket-list of NYC concert venues that she hopes to make it to.


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