Valeria Luquin, winner of NLP’s 2019 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award, with her journalism teacher, Adriana Chavira.

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Valeria Luquin, winner of NLP’s 2019 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award, with her journalism teacher, Adriana Chavira.

Elyse Frelinger

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Legacies of Ifill, Pearl come together at Student of the Year Award ceremony


The lives and legacies of journalists Gwen Ifill and Daniel Pearl continue to influence the next generation, as evidenced by this year’s recipient of the News Literacy Project’s Gwen Ifill Student of the Year Award: Valeria Luquin, a 10th-grade student at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School.

Valeria Luquin poses with her new award, featuring an etched photo of Gwen Ifill.

The award features an etched photo of Gwen Ifill. Elyse Frelinger

“I’m extremely honored to have been nominated and to be receiving an award that commemorates the unforgettable journalist Gwen Ifill,” said Luquin, 15, during a luncheon on Sept. 17 at the Van Nuys, California, school. “She has left such a huge impact in the field of journalism, especially for women of color like myself, and has made them feel heard in the field.”

The award is presented to female students of color who represent the values Ifill brought to journalism. She was the first woman and first African American to serve as moderator of Washington Week and as a member (with Judy Woodruff) of the first female co-anchor team of a network news broadcast on PBS NewsHour. Ifill, who died in 2016, also was a longtime supporter of the News Literacy Project and served on its board.

Checkology’s impact

NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom was part of a journalism class that Luquin took in ninth grade. “Valeria has taken the lessons she learned from Checkology to heart,” said Alan C. Miller, NLP’s founder and CEO. “She has incorporated them in her work as a student journalist and with her family at home. She has become an upstander for facts and aspires to be a journalist herself.”

In the last year, said her teacher, Adriana Chavira, “I’ve seen her go from being a shy student to a blossoming young journalist. She’s really embraced the knowledge she’s learned from the News Literacy Project.”

Luquin said that Checkology has changed how she engages with information: “I think more critically and I question the credibility of information I hear. We should question the information we take in and be aware about what is occurring around us every day.”

In a video interview with NLP earlier this year, Luquin described how Checkology has had an impact on her life.

A personal connection

Valeria Luquin with NLP founder and CEO Alan Miller (left) and board member Walt Mossberg (right)

Valeria Luquin with NLP founder and CEO Alan Miller (left) and board member Walt Mossberg (right) Elyse Frelinger

Miller and NLP board member Walt Mossberg, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist, presented Luquin with a $250 gift certificate and a glass plaque with an etched photo of Ifill during the award program. The communications and journalism magnet school is named for The Wall Street Journal’s South Asia bureau chief, Daniel Pearl, who was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002. The school was originally based at Birmingham High School, from which Pearl graduated in 1981.

Mossberg, who worked with Pearl in the Journal’s Washington bureau, also spoke to students in a journalism class. “I just get chills walking into this place,” he said, describing his onetime colleague as “really amazing, a wonderful man. He was a terrific journalist. The fact that this school exists and has his name on it means so much to me — and I’m sure to many others.”

Also attending the award ceremony were Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, interim chief academic officer of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Pia Cruz Sadaqatmul, director of LAUSD’s Local District Northwest; Margaret Kim, administrator of instruction for LAUSD’s Local District Northwest; Pia Damonte, principal of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School; and members of Luquin’s family.

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