Each O'Brien Fellow is teamed with Marquette student interns who receive real-world reporting experience in the field. This reporting is published by the respective fellows' news organizations or other outlets. At the end of the yearlong internship, O'Brien selects students to work a summer internship at those news organizations.
Andrew Amouzou (senior), Ziyang Fu (second-year graduate student) and John Leuzzi (senior), 2022-2023
Andrew Amouzou, Ziyang Fu and John Leuzzi assisted 2022-23 O'Brien Fellow Lee Hawkins on a podcast project in partnership with American Public Media (APM). The project examines the racial violence history in Alabama and the implication of that history.
Students took a reporting trip to Alabama in February 2023 along with O'Brien Graduate Program Assistant Vanessa Rivera and O'Brien Director Dave Umhoefer. The team ventured around Alabama, discovering the ties Hawkins and his family have to the state. The APM and O'Brien teams visited The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. Students assisted APM in capturing digital assets at various events, including Hawkins' meetings with family members.
Lelah Byron (senior) and Aimee Galaszewski (senior), 2021-2022
Lelah Byron and Aimee Galaszewski helped 2021-22 O'Brien Fellow Sarah Carr in her look at obstacles to equity in reading. As a side piece, Galaszewski and Byron dug into the potential of bringing Mississippi's reading reforms to Wisconsin's system with a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The team ventured to Jackson, Mississippi in February 2022 to look at the phonics-based instruction happening in Mississippi classrooms.
The story found that a greater emphasis on phonics-based instruction — using the sounds of letters, and combinations of letters, to figure out words — is part of statewide reforms that have dramatically improved reading levels in Mississippi. The reforms, especially coming from a state typically not seen as an innovator, have captured the attention of educators and politicians across the country.
Maureen Ojiambo (junior) and Rachel Ryan (second-year graduate student), 2021-2022
Maureen Ojiambo and Rachel Ryan assisted 2021-22 O'Brien Fellow Katherine Reynolds Lewis in an examination into how teachers are trained for equity across the nation. In a side project, the team reported on the behavioral challenges and unfinished learning in schools that continued after the pandemic. They talked with school leaders, psychologists and more, publishing three stories on the topic in U.S. News & World Report.
Ryan's reporting revealed that upon returning to in-person instruction, educators saw a variety of problems, from depression and anxiety to fighting and violent behavior. Some schools responded by increasing mental health supports or shortening the school day to include a moment for pause and deep breathing.
In a separate story, Ojiambo found that as a result of pandemic interruptions, many students were experiencing higher amounts of stress. Experts recommended establishing routines for students to create a sense of safety and having students meet with school counselors during lunch. Another story by Ojiambo and Lewis revealed that students are experiencing a significant achievement gap. That gap is even more pronounced for Black, Hispanic and lower-income students.
Kelli Arseneau (senior) and Chris Miller (second-year graduate student), 2020-2021
Kelli Arseneau and Chris Miller worked with 2020-21 O'Brien Fellow Rick Barrett to investigate the lack of access to high-speed internet in rural and urban areas of Wisconsin. As a part of their Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series, the students talked with people who had left urban living in favor of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. The team found that the pandemic and protests caused an increase in city people seeking permanent refuge in rural or suburban areas, a lifeline for small towns.
For their second story in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the students chatted with professionals and people living with the challenges of lack of access to broadband internet. They found that a quarter of the population lacks broadband, or high-speed internet, due to cost, location and population density.
Miller also produced a podcast for the series as a part of a professional project for his graduation. The episodes focus on the status of internet access in the U.S., challenges certain Wisconsin rural areas are facing, and how Milwaukee is addressing the digital divide.
Sarah Lipo (senior) and Rachel Ryan (first-year graduate student), 2020-2021
Sarah Lipo and Rachel Ryan worked with 2020-21 O'Brien Fellow Ashley Nguyen to investigate maternal health issues across the U.S. For their four-part doula series in The Lily, a publication of The Washington Post, the students interviewed doulas from Oregon and Minnesota about the challenges they are facing. To help people better understand what doulas do, the student pair wrote a piece as a part of the four-part series with answers to commonly asked questions.
For a second story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the students interviewed Wisconsin organizations supporting parenting and reproductive health to find out how they have weathered
COVID-19. They found that many organizations were forced to shift their practices to help families with stress and financial burdens. Similarly, the student duo interviewed midwives about challenges brought on by the pandemic for a story in The Lily. They revealed that midwives were scrambling to meet an overwhelming demand for home birth, often working overtime.
What is a doula? And other answers to common questions
How Wisconsin organizations supporting reproductive health and parenting weathered the pandemic
Home birth requests ‘went through the roof’ when the pandemic hit. Are they here to stay?
Sophie Bolich (senior), 2019-2020
Sophie Bolich worked with 2019-2020 O'Brien Fellow Katelyn Ferral to reveal years of retaliation by the National Guard against sexual assual survivors. For her story, Bolich interviewed proponents of and survivors who participated in an Austrailian program leading the way for sexual assault reparation. The program provides counseling, confidentiality, reparation payments and apology meetings for survivors. In the story, which ran in the Capital Times, Bolich explored whether this type of program could be applied to the U.S. Guard.
How one country offered reparations, restorative justice to military sexual assault survivors
Sydney Czyzon (senior), 2019-2020
Sydney Czyzon worked with 2019-2020 O'Brien Fellow Katelyn Ferral on her investigation into the National Guard's handling of sexual assault allegations. Czyzon reviewed documents and interviewed National Guard members and various attorneys about the Guard's confusing records system. The story in the Capital Times revealed that survivors can wait up to two years to get their records, harming their ability to obtain justice for their assault.
A maze leading nowhere: National Guard's convoluted records system hinders justice for sexual assault survivors
Zoë Comerford (junior), Grace Connatser (senior) and Jenny Whidden (senior), 2019-2020
Zoë Comerford, Grace Connatser, and Jenny Whidden (pictured clockwise from upper left) worked with 2019-2020 O'Brien Fellow Payton Guion to investigate unsafe railroad crossings. For one story, the students went to Plymouth, WI, where they interviewed residents and city officials about the dangers and what it would cost the city to increase the safety measures. The story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recounted several close calls that have occurred at a specific railroad crossing which had been out of commission until four years ago.
Wisconsin saved Plymouth’s rail line, but drivers at risk because of inadequate safety measures
John Steppe, 2018-2019 (junior)
John Steppe worked with 2018-19 O'Brien Fellow Erin Jordan on her series "Treading Water," which investigated states' efforts to address pollution washing from farm fields and industries into the Mississippi River. For his independent byline piece, Steppe interviewed Green Bay residents and researchers from the University of Wisconsin system about how agricultural waste is contaminating drinking water and causing summer dead zones in Green Bay. He also joined Jordan on a trip to Louisiana, and photographed shrimpers whose livelihoods are being threatened by the dead zone on the gulf coast.
Wisconsin's Green Bay sees dead zones, too
Mark Lisowski, 2018-2019 (second-year graduate student)
Mark Lisowski worked with 2018-19 O'Brien Fellow Erin Jordan on her series "Treading Water," which investigated states' efforts to address pollution washing from farm fields and industries into the Mississippi River. For his independent byline piece, Lisowski traveled to Minnesota to interview farmers and a government environmental expert about a state law that requires farmers to use buffer strips to prevent agricultural nutrient runoff.
Many Minnesota farmers disagree with buffer mandate
Diana Dombrowski, 2017-2018 (second-year graduate student)
Diana Dombrowski spent one year of her graduate studies working with 2017-18 O'Brien Fellow Gary Harki from the Virginian-Pilot on his project about the treatment of mentally ill prisoners. She traveled to Virginia and reported on Danica Roem, Virginia's first transgender legislator.
It was a whirlwind campaign for Danica Roem, Virginia's first transgender legislator. Now the real work begins.
Amelia Jones, 2017-2018 (senior)
Amelia Jones worked with 2017-18 O'Brien Fellow Andy Soth on his "Purple River Project," investigating the change in political affiliation from Democrat to Republican in rural Wisconsin towns along the Mississippi River. She reported, wrote and edited her own stories and received over 8,500 views on her second story about "Pete's Hamburgers Stand," in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.
Pete's Hamburger Stand
Rebecca Carballo, 2017-2018 (senior)
Rebecca Carballo spent her last year at Marquette working with 2017-18 O'Brien Fellow Gary Harki on his project about mentally ill prisoners in Virginia prisons. Rebecca went on a reporting trip to Virginia, and she received her own byline for her reporting for The Virginian-Pilot.
For understaffed Hampton Roads Regional Jail, help could be on the way
Maggie Glynn, 2017-2018 (senior)
Maggie Glynn worked alongside Wisconsin Public Television reporter Andy Soth in her last year at Marquette, reporting on his project the "Purple River Project," investigating the change in political affiliation from Democrat to Republican in rural Wisconsin towns along the Mississippi River. She covered the Laura Ingalls Wilder days in Pepin, Wisconsin.
Little House Wayside Cabin
Alexandria Bursiek, 2017-2018 (senior)
Alexandria Bursiek spent her last year at Marquette working with 2017-18 O'Brien Fellow Gary Harki from the Virginian Pilot on his project about the treatment of mentally ill prisoners in Virginia prisons. Her reporting work earned her a byline for the Virginian-Pilot about how Virginia's mental health care system is "chaotic" and must be addressed.
Virginia's mental health care system is "chaotic" and must be addressed, says Sen. Deeds
McKenna Oxenden, 2016-2018 (junior and senior)
McKenna Oxenden began her O'Brien intern work when she was a junior at Marquette working with 2016-17 O'Brien Fellow and Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Mark Johnson on his series, "Outbreak." She received a byline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for her story "Can math be used to predict an outbreak?"
Can math be used to predict an outbreak?
Ryan Patterson, 2016-2017 (senior)
Ryan Patterson spent his senior year working with 2016-17 Fellow Mark Johnson from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on his project, "Outbreak." Patterson even traveled to Brazil with Johnson to report on climate change and its effect on the spread of diseases. He received a co-byline in the Journal Sentinel for his reporting.
Infectious disease collides with changing climate
Devi Shastri, 2015-2017 (junior and senior)
Devi Shastri spent her senior year at Marquette working with 2016-17 O'Brien Fellow and Pulitzer-Prize winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel journalist Mark Johnson on his series "Outbreak." She received a byline credit for her solo reporting trip to the Florida Keys about the debate on genetically engineered mosquitoes.
Pathway to Peril
Wyatt Massey, 2015-2016 (senior)
Wyatt Massey worked with 2015-16 Fellow and Baltimore Sun Reporter Justin George on his series "Shoot to Kill," investigating why Baltimore is the most lethal city in America. He received end credit on the five-part series published in the Baltimore Sun. Massey also was chosen as the Baltimore Sun summer intern in 2016.
Shoot to Kill Chapter 1
Sarah Hauer, 2013-2016 (junior, senior, and first-year graduate student)
Sarah Hauer worked alongside Pulitzer-Prize winning Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dave Umhoefer on his project "Act 10," investigating the uproar Act 10 caused in Wisconsin schools. She received three co-bylines for her work with the yearlong project and was the recipient of the Journal Sentinel O'Brien Fellowship summer internship for 2017.
1) From teacher 'free agency' to merit pay, the uproar over Act 10 turns into upheaval in Wisconsin schools
2) In wake of Act 10, fears rise about growing divide in arms race for teachers
Schools face tougher task in finding teachers