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Fellowship Recipients


Sierra McClain

Sierra McClain, Rago ’23, is the 2023 recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. She grew up on a small ranch in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and attended the University of Oregon where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history (Phi Beta Kappa) and a master’s degree in journalism. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, singing, ballroom dancing and oil painting. Since 2019, she has reported full-time for the Capital Press, a regional newspaper covering agricultural business and policy news across California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Her work has won national awards and has been syndicated by dozens of publications, including the Associated Pressand U.S. News & World Report. She also authored a peer-reviewed chapter in “Interviewing: The Oregon Method,” a college journalism textbook published by Oregon State University Press. McClain was a 2022 Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow, a 2021 fellow with Investigative Reporters and Editors and a 2019 intern with the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She is also a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

Carine Hajjar

Carine Hajjar, Rago ’22, is the 2022 recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. She is a 2021 graduate of Harvard College with a degree in government with a focus on data science and a minor in economics. During her time in undergrad, she was a member of The Harvard Crimson’s editorial board and co-founder of the Harvard Institute of Politics’ Conservative Coalition. Hajjar was a Capitol Hill intern for Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a research assistant for the Adam Smith Institute in London, an editorial intern at National Review, and she attended an American Enterprise Institute Summer Honors Program seminar on Middle Eastern affairs. Additionally, Hajjar was awarded the Finley Fellowship from Harvard’s Eliot House to visit convents and monasteries across Europe.

Faith Bottum

Faith Bottum, Rago ’21, is the 2021 recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. Born in João Pessoa, Brazil, Faith was raised in New York, Washington, D.C., and in the Black Hills of South Dakota. A 2021 graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines, Bottum earned a degree in civil engineering with a focus on structures. Bottum has extensive writing and journalism experience. She was an editorial intern at The Washington Free Beacon, and her undergraduate writing includes op-eds in The Wall Street Journal, along with essays in Commonweal, The Federalist, University Bookman, Symposeum and other outlets. Her new translation of “The Ancient City,” Fustel de Coulanges’s 1864 classic account of the religious origins of Greek and Roman urban culture, will be published this winter by St. Augustine’s Press. In addition to her journalistic pursuits, Bottum has spent summers as a horseback trail guide in the Black Hills National Forest and as a restoration engineer for a national historic preservation firm.

Alessandra Bocchi

Alessandra Bocchi, Rago ’20, is the 2020 recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. Alessandra grew up in Italy and launched her career in journalism by reporting from North Africa, where she sought to understand the source of Islamist terrorist attacks and the migrant crisis in Europe. She moved back to Europe to report on populist political insurgencies. She has also covered foreign policy issues in the United States, as well as the democracy protests in Hong Kong. She earned a B.A. in political science at King’s College London and an M.A. in political theory at University College London. Her journalism has appeared in a wide variety of publications in England, Tunisia, Libya, Italy and elsewhere. In addition to The Wall Street Journal, her work has appeared in American publications such as First Things and the Washington Examiner.

Matthew Taylor King /  Photo by Shaun King

Matthew Taylor King, Rago ’19, is the 2019 recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. He is a 2018 graduate of Duke University and earned his master’s degree in international security, summa cum laude, at Sciences Po in Paris. King held a Robertson Scholarship at Duke and graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with honors in political science. He wrote columns for the Duke Chronicle, sang bass in Duke’s oldest co-ed a cappella group, and was a student co-chair of the American Grand Strategy Program. A French speaker, King is particularly interested in security issues in francophone Africa; he has lived in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and written on African affairs for The American Interest and the Yale Review of International Studies. He spent a summer interning in the Treasury Department’s Office of African Nations. King hails from Richmond, Virginia, where the history of revolution, civil war and civil rights inspired his affection for free people and free markets from an early age.

Elliot Kaufman

Elliot Kaufman, Rago ’18, is the inaugural recipient of the Joseph Rago Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Journalism. Kaufman is a 2018 graduate of Stanford University, where he majored in political science and minored in history. Following graduation, he was selected as a Robert L. Bartley Fellow with The Wall Street Journal. In addition to the Journal, his writing has appeared in Commentary, First Things, Stanford Magazine, National Review Online, Claremont Review of Books Digital and the Washington Examiner. He maintains strong interests in education policy, foreign policy and conservative political theory.

He has worked as an intern for National Review, the Stanford alumni magazine and the Stanford Men’s Basketball Team. He is a graduate of the Hertog Foundation’s political studies program and several Tikvah Fund fellowships in Jewish and political thought. Kaufman is an avid fan of the Toronto Raptors.