Kyra Russo Wins Casey Scholarship for Ethical Journalism

New Paltz’s Kyra Russo won the 2022 Thomas Joseph Casey Memorial Endowed Scholarship for Integrity in Journalism. Thomas and Joan Casey endowed a memorial scholarship celebrating the life of their second son Thomas J. (TJ) Casey ’11 (Journalism) to support journalism students studying at SUNY New Paltz. TJ, a thoughtful journalist, was killed in an automobile accident just two months before he was due to start graduate school. In the face of this horrific loss, his friends and family sought to raise $60,000 in his honor, support that will now be awarded to highly qualified journalism students who bring passion, energy and integrity to their profession. The Caseys hope that TJ’s memory can live on as future graduates achieve journalistic success. That may not have been possible without this philanthropic contribution.

Kyra Russo is graduating in Spring, 2023 with a major in Journalism. She qualified for the Casey Scholarship for Ethical Journalism because she is graduating in three years, her first year beginning in September 2020.

Kyra is a captain of the New Paltz women’s soccer team, part of the Rising Hawks leadership program and the American Marketing Association. She is also the Managing Editor of The Oracle and a member of the Lambda Pi Eta honors society. She earned the honors of Dean List and SUNYAC Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll every semester. 

This scholarship means so much to me because what Casey did was the definition of bravery and integrity in journalism. For someone to look at me and my work and believe I share the same qualities as Thomas means more to me than I can put into words.

This scholarship aided Kyra through graduate school and covered a portion of student loans, something she is beyond grateful for.

Kyra Russo pushes that integrity in journalism is more important now than ever. With the extreme political polarization the country is facing, she believes it is crucial that journalists practice good virtue in their work as well as knowing right from wrong. 

It is so important for journalists to exercise their own thoughts when reporting on a controversial story to decide if it is ethical or not. This is an attribute Thomas Casey exhibited phenomenally, and it is something I will strive to be throughout my career.

In her application essay, she wrote about her passionate desire to go to graduate school in the UK to speak with people from all different backgrounds and experiences. She also indulged in different articles she wrote for The Oracle at New Paltz. There were multiple articles Kyra wrote for The Oracle where the subject matter was controversial, but needed to be addressed. Recently she’s written articles about the recent fire at Mexican Kitchen, an article, an on-campus group who removed members for complicated reasons, the effects of climate change, and more.

Kyra’s work on the Oracle made it clear that she walks her talk when it comes to perseverance and integrity, qualities I associate with Tom Casey, who was my student and bravely stood up his journalistic principles in his sadly too-short career as a reporter. She has been clear headed, professional, and courageous in covering divisive issues on campus. – Journalism Professor Lisa Phillips

Kyra hopes to make her teachers, parents, and most importantly, the Casey family proud by carrying Thomas’ integrity and bravery throughout her life and into her work.

In order to apply for the Casey scholarship, the student should display competence in Journalism through a GPA of 3.25 in the major as well as overall. It is expected that the student will be endorsed by a faculty mentor in the Journalism department. The scholarship is for current juniors majoring in journalism. Applicants must demonstrate how the use of the funds sought would be consistent with the Foundation’s mission. If you are interested in applying, please visit How to Apply For A Grant | Casey Feldman Foundation blog.