Journalism Graduate Selected for Prestigious New York Times Fellowship

A May 2009 graduate of the University of Arizona School of Journalism has won a James Reston Reporting Fellowship from The New York Times, one of only five students nationwide chosen for the honor from among a field of more than 700 applicants.

Stephen Ceasar already has had his first article published in The New York Times – a report on Chinese illegal immigrants – which he wrote as a student taking part in the New York Times Student Journalism Institute held in January at the UA.

A native of El Centro, Calif., Ceasar has interned at Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star. He spent the summer and fall 2009 at the Star covering crime and the U.S.-Mexico border.

In May 2009 Ceasar received the Douglas D. Martin Award for Integrity and Courage in Journalism from the UA for his work covering the border.

News of the fellowship "hasn't really sunk in yet," said Ceasar. "But I'm thrilled. I've been lucky to have opportunities that put me in a position where I could even go (to New York)."

Ceasar pushed himself to graduate from the UA in just three years – at age 20 – so his parents wouldn't have to juggle tuition payments between him and his younger sister. Taking advanced placement classes at Imperial Valley Community College near El Centro enabled him to enter the UA with sophomore standing.

At the Times, Ceasar will join other interns in areas such as metro, business and sports. Ceasar will be on the metro desk. Interns also participate in workshops with ranking editors, foreign correspondents and other reporters.

The goal of the Reston Fellowship, said Nancy Sharkey, a former senior editor at The New York Times, "is to provide an opportunity for the fellows to stretch their journalistic skills with the help of some of the best reporters and editors in the country." Other winners of the 10-week internship, which begins June 1, are from Harvard, Yale and the University of Oregon.

At the end of the 10-week program, the Reston Fellows will spend four days getting a behind-the-scenes look at the people and institutions of Washington, D.C. The visit will be hosted by the Reston family and editors and reporters in the Times' Washington bureau.

James Reston – called Scotty by virtually everyone who knew him – spent 50 years at The Times as a columnist, Washington correspondent and, ultimately, executive editor. A winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he died in 1995 at the age of 86.
By Kate Harrison, UA School of Journalism March 16, 2010