The Opportunity Fellowship

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About this Program

Accessibility of The Daily has been a longstanding issue. The data uncovered by our Vol. 257 Demographics survey revealed a significant lack of socioeconomic diversity among our Daily staff: Less than half of our staff receives financial aid from the University, and only 9% consider themselves to be first-generation college students. Nearly 80% of staff respondents reported that the would classify themselves as either “Highest tax brackets,” “High income,” or “Upper middle class.” Currently, the diversity of The Daily’s staff does not represent the diversity of the community we seek to cover (in this and other respects). This is a problem.

Furthermore, the time demands that students take on in order to contribute to the organization can often present a barrier to entry for students from lower-income backgrounds who may need to work demanding part-time jobs to support themselves and/or their families. 

Using an excess $15,000 we had left over from another scholarship fund, we established the Opportunity Fellowship in 2021 to help alleviate these barriers to entry.

The $1,500 Stanford Daily Opportunity Fellowship is awarded each volume to Daily staff members who want to spend more time on The Daily, but who may face financial obstacles to doing so. This purpose of this fellowship is to replace the need of a student to take paid work that would make the Daily inaccessible to them, thereby creating pathways for more students with financial need to contribute to The Daily.

Introducing the Mary Ellen Brucker Opportunity Fellowships

We are thrilled to announce that, thanks to a generous gift from the family of alumna Mary Ellen Shelton Brucker ’47, The Daily is setting up an endowment to permanently support our Opportunity Fellowship program. The gift will allow The Daily to support 15 aspiring journalists each year with a fellowship. 

The Opportunity Fellowship currently supports students on financial aid who want to contribute to The Daily but face financial obstacles to doing so. The monetary award provided by the fellowship replaces the need of a student to take paid work that would make The Daily inaccessible to them, thereby creating pathways for more students with financial need to contribute to The Daily. 

The Daily has a student staff of over 300 students spanning 14+ cross-functional teams including news reporting, photography, graphic design, software engineering, and more. The degree of participation varies widely across our staff — for some students, working at The Daily is akin to a full-time job; others may contribute just an occasional article each year. However,  some students cannot participate — and others cannot participate as much as they would like — because of work commitments necessary to sustain the expense of studying at Stanford. Launched in 2021, annual fundraising for the Opportunity Fellowship helped support 10 students in Spring 2021 and 15 students in Fall 2021, and with the support of the endowment, is able to provide fellowships for 15 more students in 2022. 

Dozens of famed journalists and industry leaders at renowned journalistic institutions like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic got their start in our newsroom. The Mary Ellen Brucker Opportunity Fellowships provide support for an additional 15 aspiring journalists each year, helping each one of them kick off their careers in the field. Our goal is to eventually be able to offer fellowships to all fellowship applicants. To donate and offer more students a chance to get involved with The Daily, you can visit this link to learn more.

Here’s more about the life and memory of Mary Ellen Shelton Brucker: 

Mary Ellen was an active and beloved member of The Daily’s staff during her time at Stanford. 

From 1943-1947, Mary Ellen, who majored in communication, made her mark in the newsroom. According to her children, Ed and Katherine, Mary Ellen often reminisced about her time at The Daily, where she not only honed a love of journalism, but also made long-lasting social connections. 

“She went out for the Big Game every year when Stanford played at home and always went to The Daily reunions,” Katherine said. “She was more excited about The Daily’s reunions than I think she was about the Big Game.” 

According to Ed, Mary Ellen even kept a book full of Daily front-pages that she collected during her time on the staff. He described his mother as an honest, genuine and forward-thinking woman whose journalistic passion guided her far beyond Stanford. 

Shortly after graduation, Mary Ellen moved to Stamford, Conn., where she worked for a local newspaper. From there, she joined international news and broadcast network Voice of America (VoA), moving to Washington, D.C. and working on VoA’s Korea, China and Hungary desks. There, Mary Ellen’s stories were translated and broadcast across the globe. 

Mary Ellen and her husband, Eugene Brucker Jr., were united by their love of travel. The two met onboard a ship to a youth hostel rally in Germany in 1959. 

“She was all about discovery and enjoying life,” Katherine said of her mother. 

Mary Ellen and Eugene were active members of the St. Louis Camera Club. Together, they traveled from their home in St. Louis, Mo. to international destinations late into their lives, often creating travelogues about their journeys, which won several international prizes.

“What really made these things quite frankly was my mother’s ability to draft a script and tell a story, and that absolutely feeds back to her time on The Daily and her skill as a writer and a storyteller,” Katherine said. 

Katherine characterized her mother as optimistic and motivated, pointing out that Mary Ellen pursued college and a professional career at a time in which women rarely did so. All the way through, Ed said, she remained a cherished friend — especially to those with whom she made strong connections at The Daily. 

“The real beauty of the story is they had great times, and they stayed together, and it was all through The Daily,” he said. 

As for the establishment of the Mary Ellen Brucker Opportunity Fellowships, Ed and Katherine said they are proud that their mother’s legacy will carry on while making an impact at an organization she treasured.

“It’s nice that there is going to be something in her name that is going to live on,” Ed said.  

Vol. 261 Executive Editor for Print Georgia Rosenberg reported and wrote this piece.