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Merrill Students Amanda Hernandez, Gabriel Pietrorazio Awarded Sigma Delta Chi Foundation Scholarships

WASHINGTON — Amanda Hernandez and Gabriel Pietrorazio, students at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, have been selected to receive financial assistance for the 2021-22 academic year from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation (SDX/DC).

Hernandez will be receiving an SDXDC scholarship totaling $9,000 and Pietrorazio will be receiving $2,000 to help cover tuition costs.

The financial aid is funded by donations from members of the Washington, D.C. Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ-DC), support from the Gridiron Club and Foundation and individual gifts to SDX/DC from journalism education advocates.

Hernandez was selected by a committee of journalists from a pool of area students who applied for the scholarships. Based on their applications, finalists were interviewed by the panel and questioned about their aspirations, journalism ethics, the First Amendment and related topics.

Also interviewed was Pietrorazio, a graduate student at Merrill College who has been paying his way through school by freelancing news stories and holding down part-time jobs and internships in Maryland and D.C.

“Journalism needs well-trained practitioners today, more than ever,” said SDX/DC foundation President Reginald Stuart, in announcing the selections. “We hope the students we have selected will be able use this financial aid to reach their aspirations to continue helping our society appreciate and understand the value of a strong free press.”

Hernandez will be a junior at Merrill College in 2021-211. She is working on a double major – Multiplatform
Journalism, with a focus on investigative projects, and Information Science, specializing in data science. She will be receiving the SDXDC/B.J. Cutler Gridiron Scholarship and the Ira R. Allen Award.

Pietrorazio will be in his second year of studies for a master's degree in journalism. He received a bachelor's in Political Science and American Studies from Hobart College in 2020.

The scholarship awarded to Hernandez is funded by the Washington Gridiron Club in recognition of veteran journalist B.J. Cutler, who spent years with the Scripps Howard Newspapers and international Herald Tribune and served for years as a member of the Gridiron Club and Foundation.

The scholarship awarded Hernandez includes a $1,500 award given annually by past SDXDC scholarship recipient Ira R. Allen. His award is designated for a University of Maryland student focused on reporting and writing for print and digital media.

In addition to Scholarship Committee Interim Chair John C. Henry and Stuart, Scholarship Committee members for 2018-19 were SDX/DC board members Darlene Superville, Frank Quine, Amy Fickling and Evelyn Hsu.

SDX/DC is a nonprofit journalism foundation founded more than 50 years ago by the Washington, D.C. Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) of Washington, D.C.

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