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2011-2012 Academic Fellows

Meet the graduate students who have been awarded SOC's named fellowships for the 2011-2012 academic year.

SOC Luz Lazo fellow vertical

Luz Lazo - The Washington Post

For the last three and a half years, Lazo has covered local government and education for The Richmond Times-Dispatch in central Virginia. She previously worked at El Tiempo Latino, a Spanish weekly publication owned by the Washington Post Company. Her work has also been published in The Washington Post and A native of El Salvador, she grew up in Washington, D.C. and has a degree in journalism from American University.

SOC Aaron Rockett fellow vertical

Aaron Rockett - PunditWire

Rockett worked for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS before forming in 2004, a website dedicated to reporting on conflict zones around the world. His independent short documentary, "Vacationing inAfghanistan" screened at film festivals and aired on PBS. He was field producer in Afghanistan for two National Geographic Channel documentary specials, "Inside the Taliban," and "Inside Al Qaeda." In 2008, Aaron directed a feature length documentary film, The Fixer: Afghanistan Behind the Scenes, which was critically received at international film festivals and featured on CNN. Aaron was an Executive Producer for Verizon's new cable system, FiOS1, producing a daily half-hour show featuring people, places, and stories in Washington, DC.

SOC Eileen Collins fellow vertical

Eileen Collins - C.Fox Communications

For the last two years, Collins has worked in marketing at the U.S. Dairy Export Council, where she plans and implements promotional marketing activities on an international scale. Prior to joining USDEC, Eileen served as part of the Communications Executive Council, the branch of Corporate Executive Board that focuses on providing real-time business solutions to communications executives. Collins graduated from North Carolina State University in 2007, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in Accounting.

SOC Lydia Beyound vertical

Lydia Beyoud - Investigative Reporting Workshop

Beyoud interned as a fact-checker with Portland Monthly magazine and in the marketing department of the Ink and Paper Publishing Group. She has contributed book reviews and articles to The Middle East Journal, The Oregonian newspaper, Portland Monthly, and Global Voices Online. She also translates and publishes works by francophone authors with Words Without Borders. Beyoud is a graduate of Portland State University and holds a degree in International Studies with a Middle East and North Africa focus.

SOC Paul Abowd vertical

Paul Abowd - Center for Public Integrity

Abowd has spent the last four years writing and doing media work in Detroit. He reported on public education, state and city budget crises, and service sector unions for Labor Notes, the nation's largest independent labor publication. He is an editor of Detroit-based magazine Critical Moment, where he writes about schools, community economics, public housing, policing, and the various visions for redevelopment in the city. He is also working on a documentary film project about the city's Brewster-Douglass housing projects, the nation's first public housing development for black residents. You can find his work at

SOC Racheal Marcus vertical

Rachael Marcus - Center for Public Integrity

Marcus' investigation of underage prostitution in Portland, Oregon, "Confessions of a Teenage Prostitute," was published as the Portland Mercury's cover story and was nominated for an Altweekly Award. While at the Mercury, she broke the story that debunked an effort to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams. Marcus has covered economics and state elections for the Forest Grove News-Times and served as the business and dining intern at OC Metro and OCmenus magazines. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science from Reed College. Her first publication was a handwritten poem in Sesame Street Magazine at the age of four.

SOC Heather Caygle vertical

Heather Caygle - BNA

Caygle most recently interned for Hearst Newspaper’s Washington, D.C. bureau. She has experience working on Capitol Hill and has been published in the Houston Chronicle and the Albany Times-Union. Her public relations proposal for a women’s shelter in Birmingham, Alabama won best in the state in 2011. Heather received her undergraduate degree in public relations and journalism from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she served as news editor for her university paper, the Kaleidoscope. In 2010 she was awarded journalism student of the year at UAB and in 2009 was named the American Advertising Agency’s intern of the year for Birmingham.

Caygle's Work

SOC Carissa Alaimo Simpson Fellow

Carissa Alaimo - Simpson Awardee

In her second year as a Simpson Fellow at American University, Alaimo is continuing the mission of Rev. James B. Simpson’s contemporary quotations project. In her first year, she completed an annual project entitled “9/11: Then and Now,” which was covered by Gannett/Content One in its 10 year anniversary coverage of the event. 

She has previously interned with APCO worldwide and has held two Congressional internships on both the House and Senate sides. She has also worked on behalf of multiple campaigns during the 2010 mid-term election.  

Before coming to AU, Carissa attended Villanova University where she graduated Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 2010 with her B.A. in Political Science.

SOC Areeb Zauiter fellow

Areeb Zuaiter - National Museum of American History

Areeb has received her undergrad degree from the Lebanese American University in Beirut - Lebanon. Her graduate film, Stained, won the Jury’s price in the European Film Festival in 2003. In Amman-Jordan she founded a production house where she worked for five years on awareness campaigns, commercials and corporate videos. In 2005, she documented Jordan’s participation in Aichi Exposition; Nagoya - Japan, through a short that she filmed between Jordan and Japan. The film was nominated in Aichi’s Friendship Film Festival. Areeb has directed many social productions for the USAID, Queen Rania’s Initiatives and Jordan Health Communication Partnership. She also directed animated series for the Jordanian cartoon character, Abu Mahjoob, where she got nominated for the animated series section in Annecy Film Festival; Annecy – France, in 2006. In 2010, Areeb decided to pursue her higher studies in Film and Video in AU. She won the dean’s internship and had the chance to work as a Technology Associate with AP; an experience that exposed her to the latest technologies in the fields of production and broadcasting.

Zuaiter's work

SOC Allyson Mawn fellow

Allyson Mawn - Outreach Strategies

Mawn most recently interned with zcomm in Bethesda, Maryland where she contributed to business development and public relations campaigns for consumer products and retail clients. She volunteered as media relations consultant for DC-based human services nonprofit Community Family Life Services providing press materials and media training. As a marketing intern for PBS, she developed advertising and social media strategies for NOVA programming and critically acclaimed documentary series. Mawn graduated with honors from American University in 2011, where she received her bachelor's degree in public communication.

Morgan St. Jean - Americorps VISTA

St. Jean comes to American University with a passion for public service. After graduating from Linfield College with honors in 2009, St. Jean served as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) as the Community Relations Coordinator at the University of Oregon’s Service Learning Program. After her term with VISTA ended, she stayed with the program as its first full time Coordinator. St. Jean also has a passion for public speaking and competed in Speech and Debate for 8 years and coached high school students for 3 years. One of St. Jean’s favorite types of speeches was” impromptu”, which involved giving short spontaneous speeches on quotations.