Eight first-year students are pursuing degrees at the Newhouse School with support from a scholarship bearing the name of late dean Lorraine Branham.
Established last fall by Newhouse dean Mark J. Lodato, the Lorraine Branham Scholarship Program primarily supports students from socioeconomically disadvantaged populations and other underrepresented groups, and provides under-resourced, talented students the opportunity to attend Syracuse University and the Newhouse School debt-free.
Branham, who died in 2019, was the first woman and first person of color to serve as dean of the Newhouse School.
“Lorraine Branham was committed to supporting a bright, diverse, inclusive student community here at the Newhouse School,” Lodato says. “She would be very proud of this first class of Branham Scholars, as am I.”
Claire Ceccoli is a public relations major from Norwalk, Ohio. She says she is looking forward to the academic and personal growth she’ll experience at Newhouse. “In the short time that I’ve been here, I have already seen how exceptional and caring the staff is,” she says. Ceccoli hopes to pursue a career in service, perhaps at a nonprofit. She says attending Syracuse University would not have been possible for her without the Branham Scholarship. “The financial help allowed my Newhouse dream to become a reality. I cannot express in words how much this scholarship means to me.”
Advertising major Sebastian Lopez hails from New York City. He was active in high school—serving on student council and the TV club, taking a leadership role in the Everest Leadership Academy, interning at TV station BronxNet and pursuing a hobby in photography—and he hopes to be equally involved at Newhouse. He applied to the school after learning about it while researching colleges. “The staff, the inclusion, the opportunities, everything just fascinated me beyond belief. I just had to join.” He calls the Branham Scholarship “an important part of me. It is a physical piece of evidence that all my hard work is starting to pay off. All the achievements… [are] being noticed, and that is a wonderful feeling.”
Caleb Jaramillo, a broadcast and digital journalism major from West Philadelphia, says Newhouse is “the best school to help me chase my career goals and aspirations,” which include a career in sports broadcasting. “I’m looking forward to making connections with all my professors and advisers, and the possible internships and job opportunities I can get to better my knowledge of the media industry.” He says receiving the Branham Scholarship was special and made him feel appreciated to be recognized for “what I can bring to the table.”
“I picked Newhouse over all my other options because of the hands-on experiences the school offers, Newhouse’s wide range of connections and the community of bright, driven individuals I want to surround myself with,” says Albany, New York native Brianna Dollar. An undeclared major, she is looking forward to exploring Newhouse’s academic programs and developing her career goals. “I’m most looking forward to getting real life experiences in the communications field and finding my passion,” she says. Being a Branham Scholar motivates her to give back. “I have a responsibility to my school and peers to get involved in as much as I can and help in leading my fellow classmates to success… I need to use the resources and opportunities Syracuse has to offer to make an impact on the world outside of campus in a way that reflects back positively on my school.”
Broadcast and digital journalism major Dillon Brendle is from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. Among his many extracurricular activities in high school was a stint as president of the school’s news network. He wants to pursue a career in sports broadcasting, but says he is also interested in news reporting. When asked why he chose to attend Newhouse he says, “I want to be the best and so I decided to come and learn from the best.” He says the Branham Scholarship not only provides needed financial support, it also gives him a sense of belonging at Newhouse.
Public relations major Barbara Pozo lives in the small border town of Calexico, California, but grew up in Mexicali, Baja California, “so I get the best of both cultures!” she says. In high school, she was involved with the mock trial team, which went to the state finals twice. She says that experience led her to choose the PR major. “The trials, the scripts, the dedication, communication and punctuality are skills that I take with me forever,” she says. Pozo plans to attend law school following her time at Newhouse.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania native Madeleine Oliveros says she chose the Newhouse School for its “excellent reputation,” and chose to major in magazine, news and digital journalism because she loves writing. “I am looking forward to meeting students and faculty that will expose me to new experiences and help me to learn and grow,” Oliveros says. “I hope to make connections with people in the communications field and make a name for myself.” She says the Branham Scholarship allows her to receive a high-level education without the financial burden.
Originally from South Korea, Joohee Na came to the U.S. with her family at age four, eventually settling in the Ellicott City area of Baltimore. The broadcast and digital journalism major says she loves listening to people’s stories. She chose Newhouse because “it’s the best communications school in the world. I would be crazy not to choose Newhouse,” she says. “But certain parts of Newhouse really spoke to me, like the abundant resources readily available for me to get hands-on experience, the infinitely growing clubs that have their own clout and standing in the professional world…and the opportunity to network with the most commendable journalists in the world.” Na, who never knew Lorraine Branham, says she researched the late dean after learning about the scholarship. “To me, the Branham Scholarship is continuing the legacy that Dean Branham left all over the world… [it] was the ultimate testament to the hours of work I poured into my assignments, achievements and job. The Branham Scholarship felt like Dean Branham was patting my head and rewarding me for persevering when I wanted to give up.”
Photos by Courtney Glen White.