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Environmental Journalist Wins AU SOC White House Correspondents' Scholarship

This is the sixth year an SOC student has been honored with this scholarship.

Gabe Castro-Root

Gabe Castro-Root, a junior Journalism major at American University’s School of Communication (AU SOC), has been awarded the 2024 AU SOC White House Correspondents’ Investigative Journalism scholarship.

The prestigious student award includes a $5,000 scholarship, mentorship from a White House press corps member, an awards luncheon, and an invitation to the annual White House Correspondents' Association gala dinner on April 27. The award highlights a student who shows promise as an investigative journalist.

Castro-Root, from San Francisco, is a reporting intern at SOC’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, who has worked previously as a metro reporting intern at the San Francisco Chronicle and a business reporting intern at The Charlotte Observer. He also served as local news editor for The Eagle, AU’s award-winning student newspaper. 

This is the sixth year SOC has been a part of the White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship program. The WHCA started helping journalism students in 1991 and has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships. 

Journalism Professor Chris Halsne, who oversees the annual scholarship selection, praised the depth of Castro-Root’s work. 

“Gabe’s passion for environmental reporting through the lens of investigative journalism resonated with the judges,” Halsne said. “His front-page San Francisco Chronicle article on the spread of respiratory disease in soil and its effects on farm workers is but one example of his dedication.” 

Halsne pointed to “an unusually high number” of applicants this year whose “quality of professional work surpassed all expectations.”

Student essays dove into the dangers of artificial intelligence, the importance of data visualization, and the ways journalists can advance their understanding of diversity, corporate accountability, and climate change. Castro-Root’s essay highlighted how a community’s lived experiences can provide context to data-driven journalism.

“Few things make us more proud than to showcase our journalism students, especially our investigative journalism students,” said Terry Bryant, director of the Journalism Division.

Judges included Halsne, Associate Division Director Whitney Harris and Associate Professor Amy Eisman. Professor Lynne Perri wrote Castro-Root’s reference.

“I'm grateful for this opportunity to learn more about investigative reporting,” Castro-Root said, “and excited to be part of a cohort of inspiring young journalists.”