First Recipient of George Washington University-White House Correspondents Association Scholarship Announced

Senior Marianna Sotomayor awarded $2,500 and a meeting with President Obama.

April 15, 2015

Marianna Sotomayor

Senior Marianna Sotomayor is currently finessing her political journalism skills as an intern at The Hill magazine. (Rob Stewart/GW Today)

Senior Marianna Sotomayor grew up in a home where news and politics mattered. The NBC network news blared from her television every night while her mother prepared dinner. Her father’s copies of Newsweek covered living room tabletops, and Ms. Sotomayor anticipated the magazine’s arrival each week, scanning issues cover to cover.
Soon after she arrived at the George Washington University, Ms. Sotomayor decided to couple her passions for politics and news with real world journalism experience. She began to create a career trajectory that would provide her hands-on experience using skills learned in the classroom.
At CNN’s Washington Bureau, she helped producers across the department. Dana Bash, B.A. ’93, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent, introduced her to members of Congress such as Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY). At Campaigns & Elections magazine, Ms. Sotomayor reported and wrote stories on Democratic campaign spending, midterm elections and more. Last summer, POLITCO selected her as one of 12 students nationally for its Journalism Institute, an intensive journalism-training program, where Ms. Sotomayor researched and wrote about student data privacy. 
Now, Ms. Sotomayor’s experience and passion for political journalism has made her the inaugural recipient of the new George Washington University-White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) scholarship.
Between 2015 through 2018, a senior will be selected to receive a $2,500 scholarship that will be applied to his or her fourth year. Starting with the Class of 2019, a freshman will be awarded a total of $10,000—$2,500 per year for four years. Recipients will attend the annual WHCA Dinner in the spring of their senior year and meet the President of the United States and First Lady.
“The fact that someone was paying attention to my political journalism skills and believed it was quality work is very humbling,” Ms. Sotomayor said. “The most important part of this award is that it shows people take notice and realize all the work and effort I’ve put into my future career.”
 The GW-WHCA Scholarship is the latest addition to the WHCA’s scholarship program, which supports students at several other universities, including Columbia University and Northwestern University.
"We're proud to recognize this field of talented young journalists, and we look forward to introducing them to future friends and colleagues at our luncheon and dinner later this month. I hope we can inspire them as they have already inspired us," said WHCA president Christi Parsons.
During spring break, Ms. Sotomayor received a mysterious email with a subject line that made her pause: “Confidential.”
She opened it quickly and scanned the text at least three times before it sunk in that the WHCA was honoring her political journalism work. She will attend the WHCA dinner April 25 alongside Washington’s most powerful political players and will meet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
In addition to sharpening her writing and editing skills at her internships, Ms. Sotomayor also cultivated multimedia skills as an anchor, editor and executive producer of GWeek News on GWTV. Her proficiency in both reporting and video production reflects the digitally driven face of journalism today. 
“As someone who covered the White House for decades, it’s a special privilege for me to help usher in the next group of students who will fill that role,” said SMPA Director Frank Sesno. “We pride ourselves on the opportunities we provide for our students. This partnership illustrates the unique position of SMPA as a direct path into the world of political media.”
After graduating, she wants to land a job in a newsroom covering the 2016 elections. Eventually, her dream is to cover Congress. She hopes this scholarship puts her on that path.
“It’s completely surreal,” she said. “To be standing next to the president, with him recognizing that I have an interest in journalism…it’s the greatest foreshadowing of a career.”