Graduate Student Highlight: Professional M.A. Class of December 2020

This semester, four of our Professional Track M.A. students completed their degrees and showcased their portfolios of published work. During their time in the ProTrack master’s program, they honed their skills in journalism and storytelling across a variety of media. From audio, video and photography to print, digital and web, these four students took on the challenges of an unusual semester with tenacity and grit.

Here’s a look at our four graduating ProTrackers, and what they hope to do next!

Andrea Gambaro-Gunn

Headshot of Andrea Gambaro-GunnArea of Focus: Audio Journalism

Background: With a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s in teaching, Andrea spent 20 years as a high school science teacher. She then came to the J-School looking for a new career in audio storytelling.

Portfolio Highlights:

  • Podcasting Class & Internship
    • Andrea created her own podcasts about wilderness rescue in Pat Hastings’ J457: Storytelling Through Sound class, which can be found on SoundCloud. Additionally, she completed an internship through the Lodi Public Library teaching high school seniors how to create podcasts.
  • Stories Published in Madison Commons
    • In addition to audio storytelling, Andrea published several pieces with Madison Commons, including a story about Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky’s swearing in during her 100-mile run.
  • Larry Meiller’s Information Radio Class
    • Working with one of her radio heroes, Andrea had the opportunity to experience all of what goes in to creating and producing The Larry Meiller Show on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Idea’s Network.

Future Plans: Andrea would like to combine her skills in education and journalism to teach audio storytelling or podcasting to high school or community college students, and someday hopes to have her own podcast or radio show.

Yunan Jiang

Area of Focus: International Journalism

Background: Joining the J-School from China, Yunan wanted to build skills in different areas of reporting to further her career in journalism. She brought her outsider’s perspective to the ProTrack program which helped give her a unique point of view in her work.

Portfolio Highlights:

  • Photo Essay for People’s Daily
    • Yunan honed her skills by capturing photos of murals in memory of George Floyd on State Street. She compiled these photos into a photo essay for her internship with People’s Daily.
  • Disinformation in Political Ads in Wisconsin
    • Writing for J420: Investigative Reporting, Yunan examined how misinformation in political ads played out in the presidential election. She was able to draw comparisons with what she saw in the Chinese political system and media environment.
  • Additional Pieces
    • Yunan also highlighted pieces she wrote about Ho-Chunk culture, travel restrictions on international students during the COVID-19 pandemic and a personal essay from J405: Creative Nonfiction about Chinese literature.

Future Plans: Yunan will be returning to China to complete an internship in business journalism.

Elizabeth Lang

Area of Focus: Arts and Culture Journalism

Background: After spending four years as a reporter for the Tico Times in Costa Rica, Elizabeth came to the J-School to further explore her area of interest in arts and culture.

Portfolio Highlights:

  • Mad Street Art
    • When Elizabeth came to Madison, she noticed the lack of street art compared to what she was used to seeing in Costa Rica. She decided to explore why this was and examine street art culture in Madison to create a website. Mad Street Art was later featured in Tone Madison, and received a gold award in the best local or feature news website category at the 2019 Excellence in Journalism Awards.
  • COVIDA: The Coronavirus in Costa Rica
    • After traveling to Coast Rica for spring break, Elizabeth was unable to return when the pandemic hit. Using this as an opportunity to create a new story for J456: Long Form Video and J457: Storytelling Through Sound, she created a website and documentary called COVIDA, which tells the story of two of her friends and the impact of the pandemic on their lives.
  • COVIDA: Costa Nica
    • Another part of her COVIDA website was a multimedia story about what it’s like to be Nicaraguan in Costa Rica. The story explored the discrimination that Nicaraguans face in Costa Rica, and how the pandemic exacerbated these difficulties.

Future Plans: Elizabeth is seeking jobs in arts and culture reporting across different media.

Laura Schultz

Area of Focus: Environmental Journalism

Background: Laura has her bachelor’s in sustainability, and always enjoyed environmental writing and communication. After hearing New York Times climate journalist Justin Gillis speak her senior year of college, she gained an interest the field of environmental journalism and came to the J-School to gain specialized skills.

Portfolio Highlights:

  • Curb Magazine: As the World Burns
    • For J417: Magazine Publishing, Laura wrote a piece for Curb magazine about how activists are trying to keep climate action top of mind amidst other crises facing society.
  • Mad City Strikers
    • Following the stories of three young climate activists in the Madison area, the Mad City Strikers podcasts created for J457: Storytelling Through Sound explores how local youth created the Youth Climate Action Team to plan Madison’s March 2019 climate strike.
  • Wisconsin Energy Institute Internship
    • As a communications intern at WEI, Laura got to use her skills in journalism, communication and science writing to create web content, such as this article covering the 2020 KidWind Challenge event put on by the Institute.

Future Plans: Laura is seeking jobs in environmental reporting, or a communications role with a non-profit or advocacy group focused on the environment.