Introducing the 2023 Puffin Student Writing Fellows

Introducing the 2023 Puffin Student Writing Fellows

Introducing the 2023 Puffin Student Writing Fellows

Selected from a highly competitive applicant pool of entrants from coast to coast, ten student journalists will be mentored by leading Nation voices, bestselling authors, and award-winning journalists.


Contact: Caitlin Graf, The Nation, press [at], 212-209-5400

New York, N.Y.—May 15, 2023—The Nation, America’s leading source of progressive politics and culture, is thrilled to announce our third cohort of Puffin Student Writing Fellows. The fellowship offers college students the opportunity to write for The Nation and work with veteran journalists to develop skills for a meaningful career in journalism—one that goes beyond sensationalized headlines and political horse race coverage to report on the issues that matter most to young people at a moment of tectonic shifts in our political and cultural life.

Fellows will receive concrete editorial and fact-checking training, mentorship, networking opportunities, and support in publishing their writing. Each student will report on a specific, dedicated beat while being mentored by experienced writers who will offer hard-learned advice, insightful editorial guidance, and invaluable contacts. Over the course of the fellowship, student journalists will produce two pieces of deeply reported enterprise journalism. They start May 15.

“After evaluating close to 500 shockingly well-qualified applications from a highly talented candidate pool, we were delighted to select 10 of the most talented young journalists we’ve ever seen,” says Nation associate publisher and Nation Fund program director Peter Rothberg. “Taken together, the breadth and depth of their experience will offer an illuminated and not altogether expected window into what will soon be the most populous generation is American history. We’ve assigned each student a beat and accompanying mentor deeply experienced in the type of journalism our fellows have shown much promise in emulating. This program is going to produce some extraordinary journalism.”

With the generous support of the Puffin Foundation and under the auspices of The Nation Fund for Independent Journalism (@thenationfund), a multifaceted nonprofit organization launched in 2021 to mark our sustained commitment to the excellence and future of independent journalism, the fellowship program builds on The Nation’s long-standing dedication to educating early-career journalists. Our internships and educational programming have seeded the industry with the talent and know-how to produce award-winning, fact-based accountability journalism. And our mission to invest in the future of a strong independent press is grounded in lifting up diverse voices and perspectives. In recent years, Puffin Student Writing Fellows have gone on to work at The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, NBC News, NPR, Mother Jones, and more.

The 2023 Puffin Student Writing Fellows are:

Meher Bhatia is a junior at Cornell University studying communications and the field’s intersection with climate change. She is the science editor of The Cornell Daily Sun, and currently serves as an audio producer intern for The New Yorker Radio Hour. Her work has appeared in California Magazine, Living Bird Magazine, and The Yappie. She also hosts and produces a podcast of her own, The Sun Room. Bhatia will focus on climate change  for The Nation, with mentorship by Jake Bittle, a former Nation intern, Grist contributing writer, and author of The Great Displacement Climate Change and the Next American Migration.

Rebecca E.J. Cadenhead is a senior at Harvard College where she is pursuing a BA in philosophy and African American studies. She is currently completing a senior thesis on racialized fear and self-defense. Rebecca is a writer and editor at The Harvard Advocate and The Harvard Crimson, where she writes about race, ecology, and surveillance. She is a former editorial intern at Harper’s Magazine and n+1 and is a recipient of a 2022 Pushcart Prize for her essay, “My First Blood.” Cadenhead will focus on police surveillance and racial justice for The Nation, with mentorship by Nation justice correspondent and columnist Elie Mystal, author of the New York Times bestseller Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution.

Itzel Luna is a sophomore at Stanford University, majoring in sociology with data science and minoring in comparative studies in race and ethnicity. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Luna is a first-generation college student who is deeply passionate about social justice and Latinx community reporting. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles TimesCalMatters, and The Stanford Daily, where she serves as a news desk editor. Luna will focus on labor and immigration for The Nation, with mentorship by Luis Feliz Leon, a former Nation intern and staff writer and organizer with Labor Notes.

Nicholas Miller is a junior at Brown University studying English nonfiction writing and Portuguese and Brazilian studies. He has written for the campus newspaper The Brown Daily Herald, edited a Providence-based leftist publication The College Hill Independent, and is the founder of Sole Magazine, a student creative nonfiction journal. Miller will focus on labor for The Nation, with mentorship by Leon.

Molly Morrow is a junior at the University of Chicago, majoring in English language and literature and minoring in human rights. She is also the editor in chief of UChicago’s political newspaper The Gate. Morrow will focus on abortion rights for The Nation, with mentorship by Nation abortion access correspondent Amy Littlefield, a journalist who focuses on reproductive rights, health care, and religion.

Shaanth Nanguneri is a sophomore at UCLA studying Geography and Communications, and the features and student life news editor at the Daily Bruin. They have previously interned with The Orange County Register, and this summer, they will be a reporting intern at The Sacramento Bee. Nanguneri will focus on young people and US politics for The Nation, with mentorship by Nation national affairs correspondent Joan Walsh, a coproducer of The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show, and the author of What’s the Matter With White People? Finding Our Way in the Next America.

Rhiannon Rashidi is a junior at the City College of New York majoring in comparative literature and minoring in journalism. She is the editor in chief of her college’s newspaper and an NBCU Academy fellow. Through years of studying the written word, she has learned to see how stories change the world, and that young people can be the ones to tell them. Rashidi will focus on young people and US politics for The Nation, with mentorship by Walsh.

Nadia Scharf is a junior studying journalism, international studies and French at Indiana University. A former managing editor of The Indiana Daily Student, her work has appeared in The Indianapolis Star, on InvestigateTV and its affiliated news sites, and has been cited in The New York Times. Scharf will focus on abortion rights and non-US politics for The Nation, with mentorship by Littlefield.

Kennith Woods is a sophomore attending Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, La. He is a communications major with a concentration in television and multimedia journalism. Alongside his major, he is also working toward a minor in creative writing. Woods is a staff reporter and the news editor in training for The Lion’s Roar, his school’s newspaper. Woods will focus on sports, race, and politics for The Nation, with mentorship by Nation sports editor Dave Zirin, host of our weekly Edge of Sports podcast and coproducer and writer of the new documentary Behind the Shield: The Power and Politics of the NFL.

Kayla Yup is a sophomore at Yale University studying biology and history of science, medicine, and public health. She writes about health policy and public health narratives, scientific research, and the societal implications of emerging technology. She reports and edits for the Yale Daily News and Yale Scientific Magazine, and is an undergraduate research fellow at the Women’s Health Research Center at the Yale School of Medicine. She previously interned for The Nation’s Health, the newspaper of the American Public Health Association. This summer, she will be reporting for the Toledo Blade. Yup will focus on science and technology for The Nation, with mentorship by Walsh.

Representatives from The Nation and the Nation Fund for Independent Journalism are available for select interviews. Please see contact information above.

About: Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.

The Nation Fund for Independent Journalism is a nonprofit educational initiative that works to expand opportunities for diverse voices and perspectives and educate early-career journalists in order to strengthen independent media. Its work includes rigorous educational programs such as the Victor S. Navasky Internship, the dedicated StudentNation editorial project, and the annual Puffin Nation Student Journalism Conference, now entering its eighth year. To learn how you can support the Nation Fund’s mission and programs, please visit their Ways to Give.

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