Fall 2021 Storytellers

Omar Aftab

Omar Aftab

Multimedia Journalist

Omar Aftab is a senior at UNF majoring in both communication and anthropology. He currently writes for Spinnaker and is the president of the MSA on campus. He enjoys writing, playing guitar, and spending time with his family.   

Michael Brandy

Michael Brandy 

Multimedia Journalist

Michael Brandy is a senior at the University of North Florida studying Multimedia Journalism.  Michael was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, but settled in Jacksonville after serving in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. Michael continues to serve in the Navy Reserves while interning for Inside Swoop, and has also interned with ESPN at UNF and the University of Florida. Michael hopes to use his experience to work for a sports media organization. In his spare time Michael likes to work out, watch sports or movies, and collect comic books. 

Owen Cavanaugh

Owen Cavanaugh

Multimedia Journalist

Owen Cavanaugh is a Multimedia Journalism student in his senior year. He just finished his public relations internship at the Downtown Ecumenical Services Council. Owen enjoys writing, playing video games, and anything to do with the beach. After graduation, he plans to use his experiences in public relations work at DESC to pursue a career in the field.  

Jessica Chrusch

Jessica Chrusch

Multimedia Journalist

Jessica Chrusch is a student at the University of North Florida majoring in Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. When she is not studying, Jessica is working on fiction writing or getting lost in a good book. Jessica also enjoys Japanese culture, watching anime and reading manga as well. Through her student experience, Jessica has learned time management skills as well as learned to work in fast-paced environments like journalism. Once Jessica graduates, she hopes to work in Public Relations or behind the scenes of a news studio. 

River Cordova

River Cordova

Multimedia Journalist

Portfolio

River Cordova is a University of North Florida Communication student who is majoring in multimedia journalism. He has experience working on UNF’s Inside Swoop, as an anchor, producer and writer. When not working on journalism projects, River enjoys playing video games, reading, and competing in local pub trivia. He hopes to write and produce media for a pop culture online media publication. 

Amanda Delgado

Amanda Delgado

Multimedia Journalist

Amanda Delgado is a student at the University of North Florida majoring in Communication with a focus in Multimedia Journalism. She has experience working at a student-led newspaper from when she attended Troy University for two years before transferring. Her career goal is to be a well-known journalist that finds new and interesting stories to share with the world. When she’s not reporting, you can find her at the beach reading a good book or at home making something with clay. After graduating, she plans to obtain her graduate degree while working in the journalism field.  

Joseph Ellis

Joe Ellis 

Multimedia Journalist

Joe Ellis is a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in Communication, with a focus in Multimedia Journalism. In his free time, Joe spends his time playing college tennis, teaching tennis and listening to music. He intends to focus his career on sport and entertainment journalism. His career drive comes from his motivation to be a sports anchor in the future.  

Samantha Fitzgerald

Samantha Fitzgerald

Multimedia Journalist

Portfolio

Samantha Fitzgerald is a senior at UNF majoring in Communication, focusing on Multimedia Journalism, and minoring in Photography. She hopes to work for a print magazine after graduating, creating all types of written and media content. Her interests include analog photography, live music, traveling, and exploring new areas. Samantha is excited for her future in the multimedia journalism field. 

Daniel Gajewski

Daniel Gajewski

Multimedia Journalist

Daniel Gajewski is a senior at the University of North Florida pursuing a degree in multimedia journalism. While taking classes, he also interned at 1010XL, the flagship station of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and hopes to one day work there full time. You can also listen to his nationally recognized podcast, George’s Box, on the BlueWire podcast network.  

Romario Gardner

Romario Gardner

Multimedia Journalist

Romario Gardner has gained experience in the field of news reporting, photography, voice work and editing during his time as a photojournalist for UNF’s Spinnaker. He is currently an associate producer at Action News Jax.  Romero believes it is is important to be skilled not only in front of the camera, but also behind it.  

Raquel Lespasio

Raquel Lespasio

Multimedia Journalist

Raquel Lespasio is a senior Communication student with a concentration in Multimedia Broadcasting at the University of North Florida. She is also double minoring in French and leadership. She is currently an intern at 1010 XL radio station, where she is learning about her dream job as a radio broadcaster. For fun, Raquel enjoys running and is a part of the cross-country and track teams at UNF. Following graduation, she will be staying at UNF to pursue her master’s degree in International Affairs.  

Nicholas Lightner

Nicholas Lightner

Multimedia Journalist

Nicholas Lightner is a senior at the University of North Florida pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. He would love to work in the broadcast industry as a reporter or anchor, and has a special interest in freelance journalism of the skate and surf communities across the world. He enjoys gaming, listening to podcasts, and being outdoors.

Jay Mafela

Jay Mafela 

Multimedia Journalist

Jay Mafela is a senior at the University of North Florida pursuing a bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism. He combines in proficiency with technology and his history in the fine arts to create memorable news packages. In his free time, Jay likes to play video games, listen to music, and drink a good cup of coffee. Once he graduates, Jay would like to work behind the scenes of a TV studio or a radio station. 

Casey Peyton

Casey Peyton

Multimedia Journalist

Casey Peyton is a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in Communication,with a focus on Multimedia Journalism. Pursuing a career in journalism, she intends to focus on entertainment and travel. Casey has experience with writing, videography, and interviewing, and is ready for the opportunities ahead of her. She is published in and currently interns with Folio Magazine, and her articles can be found online and in physical copies. 

Ambar Ramirez

Ambar Ramirez

Multimedia Journalist

Portfolio

Ambar Ramirez is a senior at the University of North Florida, majoring in Communications with a focus on Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Writing Studies. For as long as she can remember, Ambar has loved expressing herself through writing and art. In her spare time, Ambar is usually at the ceramics studio creating pieces or at home writing for her fashion blog. She hopes to one day combine her knowledge of art and writing to work for an arts and culture magazine. 

Brendan Rodenberg

Brendan Rodenberg

Multimedia Journalist

Brendan Rodenberg is a senior at the University of North Florida majoring in Communication and Journalism. Although new to digital media, he prides himself on his concise and engaging writing. Inspired by the works of the late George Plimpton, Brendan seeks to pursue a career in experiential journalism focusing on travel and entertainment. His articles and interviews have been published on websites and in print in Movement Magazine, Soul and Salsa, and Jacksonville Magazine (where he currently interns).  

Hayley Simonson

Hayley Simonson

Multimedia Journalist

Portfolio

Hayley Simonson is a senior communication major with a focus in multimedia journalism at the University of North Florida. When she is not studying courses and drinking coffee, she enjoys traveling, listening to podcasts, and working as the Managing Editor for the Spinnaker.  Through her internship experience, Hayley has learned and developed the responsibility and work ethic it takes to survive in a fast-paced, high-volume industry like journalism. She believes that the way you tell stories can be as important as the stories themselves. Once Hayley graduates UNF, she is hoping to fulfill her passions by seeking a full-time job as a storyteller.   

Michael Tracey

Michael Tracey

Multimedia Journalist

Michael Tracey is a senior finishing his last semester and reports for UNF Spinnaker, a student-run news outlet. After graduation, he intends on using his degree in communication to continue his work as a writer, host, and podcaster. His passion for entertainment and the video game industry fuels his goals of moving out west to join a media source that spreads positivity and excitement. Michael will take what he’s learned from college, UNF Spinnaker, and Inside Jacksonville to further excel in his future career. 

John Watson

John Watson

Multimedia Journalist

Portfolio

John Watson is a Senior at the University of North Florida. He is seeking a Bachelors of science degree in communications with a concentration in Multimedia Journalism. Along with completing courses for his degree, John has worked since his freshman year with UNF Spinnaker in various roles including TV News Director and Sports Editor . John has a passion for sports media, and would love to work for a company as passionate as he is. and loves to create content. John is also proficient in editing and filmmaking and has won multiple awards for his work.  

Zach Yearwood

Zachary Yearwood

Multimedia Journalist

Zachary Yearwood is a senior at the University of North Florida double majoring in Communication and Sports Management. He is interning in UNF’s Athletic Communications department and plans to graduate in December 2021. When he is not working or watching sports, you can find Zach listening to or creating music. After graduating, Zach wants to work in either the sports or music industry.