A pink sunrise over snowcapped mountains and the Reno skyline.

Meet Our Graduate Students

2017 Cohort



Anthony Ciaramella

Anthony is a native Nevadan, born and raised in Reno. He received his undergraduate degree in Journalism, with a minor in Spanish from UNR. He recently lived in Madrid, Spain for a year and a half, working as an English teacher at an elementary school. Anthony started his career working in marketing and strategic communications for a start-up company in Reno called Canine Cuties. He has also worked for the Northern Nevada Literacy Council, helping older adults to obtain their GED. Anthony has a passion for travelling, photography and outdoor activities, especially skiing. His dream job would be to become a journalism professor at a university. He wants to use his time at the Reynolds School to begin that process, to grow his understanding of strategic communications and to redefine his career goals. Anthony uses his free time going rock climbing, skiing and reading. His favorite book is Church of Spies.



Candice Vialpando

Candice hails from Johannesburg, South Africa and has also lived in Idaho. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Film and TV live performance at AFDA, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. Candice started her career creating training videos for a telecommunications company in South Africa and now works as a teaching assistant for a multimedia class at UNR. Candice has a strong passion for music, dancing, reading and writing. She hopes to become a public relations agent, a social media manager or work for a local radio station. Candice wants to use her time at the Reynolds School as a general learning experience, and to improve her writing skills to use them in public relations. During her free time, Candice enjoys spending time with her husband outdoors, watching movies and learning more about animals.



Katherine Roberti

Katie was born in Reno, and grew up on a hay and cattle ranch in the Sierra Valley. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The summer of her junior year she studied in London. While earning her undergraduate degree Katie worked as an associate editor and graphic designer at the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication in San Luis Obispo. This past summer, she had the opportunity to intern for three different cattle breed associations: the American Hereford Association, the American Maine-Anjou Association, and the American Chianina Association. She has previously interned for the National Western Stock Show and the California Cattlemen’s Association. Katie is passionate about the agriculture industry, specifically about California agriculture and the beef industry. She wants to use her graduate education to be at the forefront of communications, as a successful spokeswoman for agriculture. During her free time, Katie enjoys hanging out with her family and friends, listening to “Red Dirt Country” music and exploring the world.



Ashley Nickole Andrews

Ashley was born in California and has lived in Reno for the last ten years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a degree in Marketing from the College of Business at UNR. Ashley works as an event and web presence manager for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Her passion is to use marketing and public relations principles to communicate research-based horticulture information. Her goal is to grow healthy, beautiful Nevada communities. Ashley will use her graduate degree to further her career in Cooperative Extension. During her free time, Ashley loves to garden, read and spend time with her family.



Mauricio Rojas Durand

Mauricio is originally from Lima, Peru but has spent time living and travelling around the world. He has lived in Vermont, has studied in Helsinki, Finland and stayed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He completed his undergraduate degree in Communications at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, in Lima. Mauricio’s career experience includes different areas of media and communications. He has worked as a communications assistant for a NGO related to regional cuisine and cooking in Peru. He was a logistic assistant and communicator in his hometown university, within the Faculty of General Studies. He recently worked as a marketing assistant for a financial company and now works as a project assistant at UNR. Mauricio has a strong passion for travelling, photography, movies and languages. He is bilingual in English and Spanish. He wants to become a travel journalist and work in marketing, project coordination and media strategies. He hopes to use his graduate degree to look into strategic communication and to redefine his career goals towards journalism and marketing. Mauricio spends his free time reading, walking, watching movies and travelling.



Ruben Kimmelman

Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ruben has spent time living in Washington, Colorado and Alaska. He completed his undergraduate degree in Marketing at the University of New Mexico. His passions involve reading, writing and music. Ruben is passionate about snowboarding, which led him to work as a snowboard instructor. He currently works as a teaching assistant for UNR. He plans to use his time at the Reynolds School to redefine his career goals towards journalistic writing. Ruben’s dream job would be to write features on social and political issues around the United States. Ruben spends his free time reading books, surfing the Internet and playing sports.



Nisha Sridharan

Nisha was born and grew up in Chennai, India. She received her undergraduate degree in Information Technology Engineering from the Anna University, in Chennai, India. Nisha started her career working as a reporter for India Express, as part of an internship at the newspaper. She has also worked as a content writer at Doodle Blue, an application development company in India. Nisha’s passions involve reading and writing and singing Indian classical music. Nisha’s dream is to work as an editor at a fashion magazine and ultimately to create such a magazine herself. Nisha would like to redefine her career goals throughout her time at the Reynolds School. During her free time, she loves reading novels, going shopping and exploring new cuisines.



Breanne Standingwater

Breanne was born in Southern California and grew up in Colorado. She earned her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She currently works in University Events for the University of Nevada, Reno doing events for the President’s office and Development and Alumni Relations. She has a lifelong passion for graphic design and visual communication. She plans to use the time at the Reynolds School to expand her visual design knowledge. During her free time, Breanne enjoys gardening, traveling, and meeting cats.


2016 Cohort


Erin Collier

Erin Collier

Erin was born in South Lake Tahoe and lives in Sparks. She received her undergraduate degree in secondary education with an emphasis in English at Great Basin College. She also studied literature and theater in London. She worked as an Information Assistant for the Bureau of Land Management, and was also employed by the U.S. Forest Service. Erin is passionate about writing, reading and photography. When she graduates she wants to follow her passion and become a public affairs representative for the National Parks Service or a journalism instructor. She loves the outdoors: hiking, kayaking and traveling.


Molly Fitzpatrick

Molly Fitzpatrick

Molly was born and raised in Southern California. She received her undergraduate degree in social sciences from Washington State University. Prior to moving to Nevada she worked in sales and management in the fashion industry, including stints at Destination Maternity, White House Black Market, Chico’s, and Brighton Collectibles. Her creative outlets include writing, singing, and songwriting. Molly would like to strengthen her writing skills to pursue a career in public relations, or reporting and writing. During her free time she enjoys the beaches and recreational opportunities of Lake Tahoe, and spends time with her family and her dogs.


Kellie Lee

Kellie Lee

Kellie is a native Nevadan, hailing from Reno. She received her undergraduate degree in Spanish with a minor in communications from UNR. She lived in San Sebastián, Spain for fourteen months, where she focused upon Spanish language studies. She also lived in New York and San Diego. Kellie is an entrepreneur who owned two businesses: Nevada’s Women’s Directory and Drawn2Imagine Art Academy for Kids & Teens. Now she is a marketing specialist and a community outreach developer for Saint Mary’s Fitness Center. She loves water skiing, hiking, hunting, backpacking with her husband and friends, and triathlons. Her dream is to establish a business that will help people “find their bliss.” She plans to use the time at the Reynolds School to become an experienced writer and develop a new business idea.


Dylan Silver

Dylan Silver

Dylan grew up in Ferndale along the northern coast of California. He received his undergraduate degree in Journalism from San Francisco State University. After working as a digital associate for SPIN magazine in San Francisco, he moved to South Lake Tahoe where he worked as reporter and photographer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune. Now he works as a freelancer for Tahoe Quarterly, Outside Magazine and Amazon. During his free time, he enjoys outdoor sports such as snowboarding, surfing, swimming, hiking, paddle boarding, and fly-fishing. He is passionate about photography, reading good journalism, and following the news. His dream job is to be a travel editor for a national publication. During his graduate studies, Dylan plans to work on large media projects for his clients, a major feature story, and a documentary film.


Luka Starmer

Luka Starmer  

Luka was born in Upstate New York and lived in Sonoma, California. He received his undergraduate degree in writing from Ithaca College in New York. He formerly worked at a winery and at a ski school for the disabled. Currently, Luka lives in Tahoe City, California where he works in public relations for the High Fives Foundation. He enjoys sports and playing music in a rock band, or playing the fiddle on his own. He plans to combine his writing skills with visual design, all within a personal agenda of progressive social change. During his graduate journalism program he plans to become a better storyteller, using visual design to improve the quality of life in the communities he loves.


Kris Vagner

Kris Vagner

Kris grew up in Connecticut, earned an English degree in Arizona, studied art in Boston and Los Angeles, ran a photo gallery in Reno in the mid 2000s and taught art to kids in the San Francisco Bay Area. She now reports on arts, culture, parenting and outdoors in Reno and nearby regions. Kris is a frequent contributor to Reno News & Review, and she blogs on Double Scoop Art Blog. She’s published over 300 articles in local and regional outlets and earned grants and awards from the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Arts Council. She likes to bike, hike, camp and explore every lake, creek and trail of the Sierra Nevada, right in Reno’s back yard. This year her 12-year-old taught her how to ski.

2015 Cohort

Bouweraerts-PatriciaPatricia Bouweraerts

Patricia was born in Iowa and grew up 80 miles from Chicago in Rockford, IL. She received her undergraduate degree in music education from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree in music performance from DePaul University in Chicago. Prior to moving to Nevada, Patricia taught music to elementary school students in Chicago. After moving to the Silver State, Patricia began teaching music in Washoe County while taking night classes at Truckee Meadows Community College to earn her degree in graphic design, which she put to use doing page layout and ad design for the Nevada Appeal and the Northern Nevada Business Weekly. Patricia reported for The Echo, TMCC’s publication, for two years, and was the founding editor of The Digital Echo during the 2013-2014 academic year. Currently, she works in the public information office at TMCC, writing college news articles, press releases and newsletters. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, environmental and landscape photography, and listening to world music. Patricia hopes to further explore how people respond to linguistics in journalism.


AlexGurevichAlexandra Gurevich

Alex was born in Russia and moved with her parents to Israel when she was eight. She has spent much of her adult life traveling in the United States, Asia, and Europe. Alex received her undergraduate degree in business administration and marketing from San Francisco State University. Before joining the Reynolds School, Alex worked in sales and marketing, social media, brand identity and content creation for various companies. Alex enjoys spending time with her one-year-old daughter and engaging in outdoor recreation, especially in Lake Tahoe. She is also passionate about travel and exploring new cultures and cuisines. During her time at the Reynolds School, Alex plans to gain experience with emerging multimedia and publishing tools. Her dream job would be to work in marketing communications and in social media marketing in a place where she could use her expertise in branding, consumer communications, technology and design.


Hoeft-AlexAlex Hoeft

Alex grew up in Henderson, Nevada and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where she received her undergraduate degree in communications with an emphasis in print journalism. She has held multiple positions, working in public relations, marketing, reporting, and graphic design. Alex enjoys running, reading, and watching sports. She plans to use her time at the Reynolds School learning and refining new skills to help her engage with sports fans, athletes, and coaches. Her dream job is to work in sports media.



Courtney Laubacher

Courtney grew up in Bishop, California and has lived in Reno since 2008. She began her undergraduate studies at the community college in Bishop before transferring to UNR, where she received her degree electronic media with a specialization in speech communications in 2011. Courtney has worked at the Apple Store in Reno since 2010. Prior to this, she spent three years working in radio writing and production in Bishop and was a radio DJ for KDOT 104.5 in Reno. In her free time, Courtney enjoys watching documentaries, “storm chasing,” and anything that is scary. She plans to use her graduate education to become a production assistant for Apple Inc. Courtney’s dream job would be to work for South Park Studios or become an independent documentarian.


Matus-MichelleMichelle Matus

Michelle grew up in Carson Valley, Nevada but has spent time living in many places across the Western United States and the world, including Seattle, Portland, Southern California, Belgium, France, Australia, and South Korea. In 2008, Michelle received dual undergraduate degrees from UNR in French and international affairs. During her time in South Korea, she worked as an English teacher. She has also worked as a creative director in recipe development for a company in Portland and in policy support for the State of Nevada. Michelle enjoys winter sports, hiking, rock climbing, photography, traveling, and cooking. During her time at the Reynolds School, she hopes to refine her skills in journalistic writing, photography, and community engagement. Her dream job would be one that combines her passions for the outdoors and environmental conservation with her love of photojournalism.


Moser-RebeccaBecky Moser

Becky grew up in Sparks, Nevada, and received her undergraduate degree from UNR in Psychology, with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. Becky discovered her passion for public relations during her time working for some of Reno’s most popular nightlife destinations, including BuBinga Lounge in the Eldorado and Edge Nightclub at the Peppermill. She currently works full time for the university in the Graduate School Dean’s office. During her free time, Becky enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, friends, and family. She also enjoys writing, cooking, and participating in Downtown Reno events. During her time at the Reynolds School, Becky hopes to refine her public relations and multimedia skills and cultivate her social media, writing, and marketing talents. Her dream job would be to work for a public relations firm where she could use her skills in branding, social media, and event planning to promote venues within the nightlife industry.


Pizzi-JenniferJen Pizzi

Jen grew up in Braintree, Massachusetts and moved to Farmington to complete her undergraduate education in English literature and philosophy from the University of Maine. She currently lives in Truckee, California and works for Season’d Catering. Jen has also worked in the restaurant and ski industries and spent time as a snowboarding coach at Carrabassett Valley Academy at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. During her free time, Jen enjoys skiing, snowboarding, trail running, cooking, and living a healthy, outdoor lifestyle. Jen hopes to use her graduate education to find new ways of helping communities of people seeking to share in healthy, active lifestyles. Her dream job is to give back to the snow-sport community through outreach and social media engagement.


Smith-RyanRyan Smith

Ryan was born in Birmingham, Alabama and spent eight years in Atlanta, Georgia before moving to Fresno, California. He completed his undergraduate education in print and photojournalism at California State University, Fresno. Ryan has worked as a sports editor for the Los Banos Enterprise in Los Banos, California. He also spent seven years teaching journalism and English at Los Banos High School. During his summers, Ryan worked as a photographer in Costa Rica, the Grand Canyon, and Mono Lake for Rustic Pathways, a student travel and community service program. In his free time, Ryan enjoys running, hiking, cycling, watching football, spending time with his wife, Melissa, and playing various instruments, including the guitar and bass. Ryan hopes to research better ways to use new media to engage young people in the news.