Multimedia Storyteller | Photojournalist | Writer

I am a Phoenix-based freelance journalist and current graduate student in the inaugural cohort of the Masters in Investigative Journalism program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Expected graduation in December 2020. 

Skills I’ve learned in this program range from financial statement comprehension to social work interviewing. Passion about telling deep stories that make an impact.

Seeking post-graduation opportunities to connect with and amplify community voices as well as hold power to account. Open to relocation.

View my most recent stories below:

Exploring self-image through art

When Jayanti Demps-Howell was 9 years old, he was suspended from school in Flint, Michigan, for a cartoon superhero drawing he had made at home and brought to school. He had done the same thing plenty of times before — drawing artwork at home and then bringing it to school. When he was upset about receiving a bad grade, he expressed his feelings through his drawings. He drew a cartoon strip of a teacher entering a classroom giving out bad grades, and a superhero blowing her up. He was suspende

‘Super-Predators’: A myth that left a legacy

During the mid to late 1990s, a fear of violent youth crime swept the nation, fueled by inaccurate estimates from criminologists and media reports. A substantial rise in youth violent crime in the 1980s through early ‘90s prompted criminologist and then-Princeton University professor John DiIulio to write an article in 1995 predicting that a new breed of juveniles were going to terrorize the nation: “super-predators.” The youth violent crime rate began to significantly decrease that same year,

‘Young Kings’: School empowers students beyond classroom

When Ron Brown College Preparatory High School first opened in Washington, D.C., in 2016, some community members initially pushed back. In a Washington Post article, people commented that the “young kings” sounded like a gang and accused the school of segregating D.C. students. But this didn’t stop Ron Brown College Prep from creating a safe space for its Black male students using restorative justice principles as a foundation. Instead, “young kings” who enter through the doors of the high scho

What was lost in Brown v. Board of Education

In most schools, the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education is taught as a major victory for reaching equality in education. The 1954 decision desegregated schools and united Black and white students under one roof. What they don’t mention is what the nation lost after Brown versus Board of Education, and how it laid the groundwork for the school-to-prison pipeline. In a 2019 study by Princeton University, researchers found that Black students were three times more likely to b

Republican JP candidate: Blacks ‘blame slavery’ for problems they caused

In response to an Instagram post showing support for Black Lives Matter demonstrators, GOP justice of the peace candidate Michael Irish wrote that it was “time to start putting these idiots in their place.” Irish, who is running to be a justice of the peace in the Moon Valley district in north Phoenix, also said that Black Americans were actually to blame for the police violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dion Johnson and others that sparked nationwide Black Lives Matter protests calling for an end to systemic racism in policing.

Tempe PD pepper sprayed demonstrators at Saturday ‘chalk walk’ protest

A creative protest supporting the Black Lives Matters movement at Tempe Marketplace Saturday went from chalk art to chaos when Tempe police officers tackled three people to the ground and arrested them, while other officers used pepper spray on protesters who were obeying police commands to back up. Lisa Vu, who posted videos of what happened to her Instagram account, was filming as officers arrested and tackled a protester around 8 p.m. When she and Ryan Tice, another protester, asked the officers what the person was being arrested for, one responded, “None of your business.”

Trump protest turns violent when Phoenix PD fires flash-bangs, pepper balls

A peaceful protest of President Donald Trump outside of Dream City Church ended quickly Tuesday afternoon as the president spoke to some 3,000 attendees when Phoenix police officers fired flash-bang grenades, pepper balls and pepper spray into the crowd of more than 200 people, declaring it unlawful. The protest, organized by the W.E. Rising Project, walked from Cave Creek and Cactus roads in northeast Phoenix to the designated “free speech zone” surrounded by gates outside the church, about a half-mile away. After chanting in the zone, and running into about 10 counter-protesters,

Scottsdale police violence protest shuts down Old Town

As thousands marched through Old Town Scottsdale Sunday evening, united to protest police brutality against minorities, their chants echoed off the shops and restaurants that line Scottsdale Road and the surrounding area: “Say their names!” “No justice, no peace!” “I can’t breathe!” The protest was one of several on the 11th consecutive night of demonstrations across Arizona, sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer in Minnesota on May 25. That same day, Dion Johnson was shot and killed by a state trooper while sleeping in his car parked on the Loop 101 freeway. There has been little transparency from Phoenix Police Department, which is investigating the shooting, or the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and many questions remain about what happened that led an officer to shoot and kill the unarmed Johnson.

Black mothers: Action needed to keep our children alive

The 100 or so people who gathered in Eastlake Park near downtown Phoenix early Saturday evening heard one message over and over: Black lives matter to Black mothers. Janelle Wood, founder of Black Mothers Forum, led the event. She invited mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to join her briefly on stage in solidarity. Speakers, including youth activists, faith leaders, parents and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, spoke about what it means to be Black in America, ways the state and country can continue this dialogue and why this conversation on race is important.

Virus may bring greater medical and financial risks for undocumented

It’s been a month since Juana stopped taking her key medication to treat the chronic vascular disease that attacks her immune system and debilitates her blood vessels. She has had three heart attacks in the past eight years. Without the medication, Juana said it’s only a matter of time before her symptoms — burning sensations in her legs and feet, severe fatigue and difficulty walking — come back. Without treatment, she could eventually suffer organ failure and die. Juana, who asked that her l

Phoenix 911 Dispatchers Face Trauma, PTSD — But Aren't Classified As First Responders

Recent efforts to reclassify 911 operators and dispatchers as first responders federally are stalled. Those who work in the Phoenix alarm room, like Maria Abeyta, may not see trauma like police officers and firefighters, but they hear it. After her break, Abeyta sits down in her chair in front of seven glowing computer screens, two keyboards and mice. She plugs her headset in and slides it through her hair. The police radio chatter starts to filter in. “10-4 shots fired … white male had a gun

First of the first responders

PHOENIX – After nearly two decades, tens of thousands of calls and countless crises, a series of four calls broke Lauren Pacimeo. As a 911 dispatcher for the fire department, Pacimeo is trained to keep her composure on calls and always has. But in November, her 18 years in the dispatch room caught up with her. The first call was a battalion chief’s 14-year-old son with a fatal gunshot wound. Then she responded to a fire next to her aunt’s house. And after that, her friend dialed 911 when her s

NAU Shipping Wood Chips To South Korea To Help With Wildfire Prevention

Northern Arizona University has worked with multiple agencies for the past year to ship wood chips to South Korea. The process starts Wednesday, and it will help forest restoration efforts, prevent wildfires and bring in income to the state. Low-value wood, often in chips, costs Flagstaff about $40 per ton to transport to Phoenix, according to Han-Sup Han, a director at the Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU. He says that in Arizona, that’s more than it’s worth. “South Korea is a small co

Light Rail 'Respect The Ride' Staffers Aim To Boost Rider Experience

Valley Metro riders are being greeted with ambassadors at light rail stations. The staffers are part of the transit agency’s “Respect the Ride” program designed to boost rider experience. The employees are called “Customer Experience Coordinators,” or CECs, and is a response to rider safety complaints on light rail. Susan Tierney with Valley Metro said complaints have decreased by 40% since rolling out the “Respect the Ride” program. “It's someone that can help you out if you need help with fa

Yavapai County Proposes Property Tax Increase To Ease Crowded Jail, Pension Debt

With a crowded jail and creeping pension debt, Yavapai County’s Board of Supervisors is proposing a 3% property tax increase to alleviate financial stress. The county has worked to divert potential inmates from jail by addressing mental health concerns. That’s according to Phil Bourdon, county administrator. He said if it weren’t for the sheriff’s department’s efforts, the county jail would have been at capacity years ago. The tax increase would help fund a new criminal justice center in Presco

University Of Arizona Researchers Using Ancient Plankton To Predict Future Climate

Two to 5 million years ago, oceans were 50 feet higher, icecaps were smaller and CO2 levels were about the same as today during Pliocene epoch. Researchers at the University of Arizona are using ancient plankton to help predict climate in the near future. It took more than 2 million years for CO2 levels from the Pliocene epoch to naturally decline from 400 to 180 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution. Now just about 150 years later, CO2 levels are back up to their Pliocene heights.
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