A challenging industry in which to flourish, these stars are establishing themselves as the next generation of journalists by investing in both core journalism skills training and equipment. Awardees will undertake training from trusted organisations to strengthen their central knowledge and skills foundation, helping them to progress and reach their potential in delivering the latest news.

Shawna Healey

Shawna Healey

Shawna found a love for journalism when she stumbled on her university’s student magazine. Since then, she’s had various work experience and seeing her name on a by-line never gets old. NCTJ distance learning will help her reach the industry standard she strives for, aiming to be a gold standard news reporter at a regional newspaper in five years’ time. Aside from work, Shawna is also current affairs for Empoword Journalism, a women-led project that unites and empowers budding female journalists. 
Jess Blackwell

Jess Blackwell

Jess has passionately chased her dreams of journalism since she was 15. Beginning with a small blog, she now curates and edits a community magazine, hosting over 600 contributing writers. With her ever-growing team, Jess is now focused on future proofing the magazine by implementing the skills she gains from her Rising Star Award funded trainingincluding media law and accessibility, to The Everyday Magazine and the people behind it. 
Steph Bailey

Steph Bailey

While studying at NYU Shanghai, Steph discovered her love for journalism after investigating the school’s financial documents. Originally planning on continuing with a Masters, an internship with CNN was an opportunity Steph couldn’t say no to, and now she freelances in their features department. She is passionate about where the environment and technology intersect and sees herself as an editor in such fields in 5 years’ time. Distance learning through the NCTJ will help her to fill the gaps in her journalism knowledge.  
Finbarr Toesland

Finbarr Toesland

Originally an Archaeology student, Finbarr discovered his true passion lay in journalism after writing a few articles in his spare time. Having started out cold pitching, he has now written for NBC Out, Vice, Reuters, and many others, focusing on LGBTQ+ issues here and abroad, particularly Africa. Whilst continuing to freelance on underreported issues, Finbarr is also thinking of writing his own book based on his master’s research. 
Sunita Ghosh Dastidar

Sunita Ghosh Dastidar

Sunita’s love of people and their stories led her to studying radio as part of her MSc, securing a placement with the BBC Digital Planet Team. Now working for The Tees Online, Sunita is focused on furthering local voices and those less often heard, by harnessing online media forms such as podcasts and radio. NCTJ Training in Multimedia Journalism with News Associates will help her improve her journalistic skills to industry standard.