AlumNotes: 2017 Edition

13 Kelly Velocci

Velocci works as the associate managing editor at Cottages & Gardens Publications. She started as an editorial intern for the organization during her last semester at Rutgers. Rising in rank since then, she has worked closely with New York designers, both established and up-and-coming, for the magazine. In her current role, she helps write and produce the New York and Hamptons publications.

’15 Rachel Bernstein

Rachel Bernstein, a 2015 Journalism and Media studies graduate, has joined the Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership coordinating workshops and events as the Program Coordinator for the Alison R. Bernstein Media Mentors Program. The Institute for Women’s Leadership 9-unit consortium uses its role as a catalyst and incubator for innovative programs that focus on linking theory and practice in fields such as health, media and technology, and philanthropy in the nonprofit sector, while continuing to build interdisciplinary leadership education opportunities that deepen understanding of critical issues affecting women. This is Bernstein’s second year running the program, and she is currently organizing a symposium titled, “The New Normal? Women, Media, and Politics,” which will be fundraising for the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies. The establishment of this chair will take the support of foundations, Steinem’s many friends and colleagues, and Rutgers alumni who have an interest in advancing the chair’s unique research and educational initiatives that are provided by the Institute for Women’s Leadership.

’15 Jheisser Espana

It is a smooth ride on the road to success, and Espana is behind the wheel. His journey began as an intern for Complex Networks in January 2014, where he was officially employed as an executive sales assistant in September 2015. In 2016, Espana managed client entertainment during the first Complex Con, a festival bringing together music, pop culture and more. He handled all reservations, including hotel, transportation and happy hour for the entire weekend of the event, becoming one of the MVP employees of the year. Espana is now the entertainment account director, responsible for driving revenue to the company through strategic brand partnerships and social promotion. His client list includes those associated with Complex television shows, movies, sports and music.

’16 Mariam Aliyu

A Journalism and Media Studies and Philosophy graduate from Rutgers, New Brunswick; Aliyu completed her studies a semester earlier than expected. Graduating early awarded her the opportunity to focus on sitting the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), in order to pursue a career in law. Aliyu is currently travelling through European cities, including London, Germany, and Paris.

’11 Hilary Berk

Berk has earned the position of associate producer for Daytime Emmy Award-winning “The Dr. Oz Show,” where she has worked for more than two years. She previously held positions on “The Bill Cunningham Show” and at ABC News Radio. She holds degrees in Journalism and English from Rutgers University.

’16 Angie Saber

Saber, a graduate from the class of 2016, double-majored in Journalism and Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies. The JMS program at Rutgers University equipped Saber with essential skills that she attributes to how invested the professors are in teaching students skills to succeed. “I am very thankful for being able to attend such a university,” she says. With these degrees, she has actively taken strides as a current adviser to the League of Arab States Mission for the U.N. She continues to apply her passion for education in graduate school at New York University, studying International Relations. Angie looks forward to her internship this summer for the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau at the State Department, and she hopes the next graduating class remembers to always vocalize their career goals.

15 Chelsea Pineda

Pineda was recently promoted to associate video producer at Insider, the lifestyle division of Business Insider, Inc., where she edits, produces, and shoots short videos that highlight cover art, food and design. She recently produced a short video featuring a 99-year-old Filipina tattoo artist whose traditional technique attracts people from all over the world. This video has received over 63 million views: her biggest hit to date. Aside from Insider, Pineda has also found a passion in music photography and was recently hired as an in-house photographer for Webster Hall, a historic New York music venue.

’16 Chisa Egbelu 

Chisa Egbelu is the CEO and founder of a new non-profit crowdfunding platform, The platform serves as a means for college students to combat ever-rising tuition through crowdfunding. Egbelu spent most of his postgraduate time building his company and networking, visiting Twitter, Google, and IDT headquarters, and partnering with other organizations dedicated to eliminating issues surrounding higher education. The company, which officially launched in January, recently won a business pitch competition at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. In their first month, PeduL also announced a national search for 20 college students to become “PeduL Fellows.” The fellowship program helps students create their own crowdfunding campaigns to fund their college education.

’06 Cindy Rodriguez 

Rodriguez is the co-founder and host for Morado Lens Podcast, a feminist podcast that embraces the importance of inner bruja, sex, love and culture. “We just want Latinas who listen to radio or podcasts to feel like they see themselves,” Rodriguez said. She wants to create shows that “talk about things we care about.” In addition to her podcast work, she was an editor for Vivala, CNN, and The Huffington Post and was recently hired as the head of content by, an online voting platform.

’06 Taryn Sauthoff

Sauthoff currently works for Comedy Central in New York City, where she has been for the past five years. As the supervising producer, Sauthoff is responsible for making sure content airs across all online and on-demand devices. She previously served as a digital producer for The Colbert Report and as a senior producer.

’11 Jessica Lima 

With a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies and a minor in Spanish translation, Lima began her career at NBC News. Later, she went to CBS and then onto Buzzfeed Español working as the Editor-In-Chief. Lima was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala and moved to the U.S. at the age of 15. “Hard work really pays off,” said Lima . Lima currently oversees the day-to-day operations of the Buzzfeed Español website. Her focus is on the Spanish-speaking people outside of the U.S. She is also a content strategist at Buzzfeed Internationalwhere she uses her personal experience, as well as data, to provide writers all around the globe with content insight.

’14 Habeeba Husain

As a freelance writer for SLAM magazine, Husainhas become an integral voice for minorities in the sports media industry. Husain covered Muslim basketball star Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir’s journey to overturn the International Basketball Federation’s ban on headscarves and headgears. “FIBA plans to review and approve the change in May 2017,” she says. Husain has also contributed to a variety of other newspapers and magazines, including Narratively and the Times of Trenton. Recently, she started a blog that focuses on current events, travel, and “#blessings” in her life.

’93 Jonathan Jaffe

A graduate of the Rutgers Journalism and Media Studies major, Jaffe runs the day-to-day activities of his public relations firm, Jaffe Communications. With clients as large and far-reaching as Verizon and Amazon, he and his team strive to help them achieve their business module. Jaffe is also still part of the Rutgers community. He also runs a news website,, that focuses on issues within the Rutgers and New Brunswick community. His scarlet fever has not broken, as he proudly holds season tickets for the Rutgers football.

’10 Julia Nutter

After completing a double major in Political Science and Journalism, passion and enthusiasm for broadcasting and production landed Julia Nutter a full-time job at NBC. After completing an internship there, she was hired as Rachel Maddow’s assistant, and eventually worked her way up to the role of producer. Nutter says her time at WRSU, Rutgers Radio, greatly contributed to her skillset. Her advice for JMS undergraduates is to find any outlet near the Rutgers community that will allow them to get hands-on experience. No matter what their passion may be, Rutgers has something related to it. All someone has to do, she says, is find the organization, sign up, and be a part of it.

’06 Brooke Katz

After graduating with high honors in the JMS track Broadcast News and Reporting, Katz started her professional career in Kentucky as a morning anchor and traffic reporter. Last May she moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to work as a morning anchor at WCNC. She was promoted within a year of arriving at the station. At WCNC Katz is responsible for the entire life of a news story: coming up with story ideas, writing and reading stories, story placement, as well as the overall look of the newscast. Katz still uses the advice she received from Rutgers Director of Undergraduate Studies, Steve Miller. “Never say no to an opportunity,” he said, “You don’t know where it’s going to lead you.” Katz is also active on social media with more than 7,000 followers between her Instagram and Twitter pages. In her downtime she teaches aerobics, her hobby since high school.

’96 Lisa Ferdinando

As a reporter at the Pentagon, Ferdinando writes features and news articles about current military and defense issues. Additionally, she is a reservist at the U.S. Coast Guard in Baltimore, Maryland. Four years ago, before becoming a reservist and reporting at the Pentagon, she wrote for Voice of America in Washington, D.C.

’16 Morgan Parrish

Parrish is a multimedia journalist and reporter for KVRR-FOX News. She is currently stationed in Fargo, North Dakota, where she works with two other Rutgers graduates. While at Rutgers, she worked for the RU-tv master control department and moved up to become a production crew member. Throughout her undergraduate years, she completed various internships, including a position as a digital media intern for NBC’s Today Show. Now, as a multimedia journalist, Parrish pitches story ideas, creates her own content and reports the news for KVRR-TV.

’12 Maricar Santos 

Santos graduated with a double major in Journalism and Media Studies and Spanish. “I’m not ethnically Latinx,” Santos said. “I just decided to study Spanish because I’m really interested in learning about other cultures.” She also has a minor in Sociology. Since September 2016, she has been the associate editor of the Working Mother magazine and website, where she writes articles on career, parenting, and lifestyle topics.

’16 Yrbenka Arthus

A rising star in the editorial world, Arthus is making her name at Time Inc.’s Essence magazine. Arthus dreamed of working at Essence her first semester in JMS and reached out to the Editor-in-Chief, who then became a role model throughout her years at Rutgers. The alumna works in brand communications, dealing with brand experience and the relationship between the audience and the brand. She also works with the company’s competitors, remaining aware of their concepts and impact. “Now more than ever, it seems like the possibilities are endless – I like something about every part of the entire picture,” said Arthus, who also hopes to advance towards digital and social media responsibilities.