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Maria Sestito

Journalist, writer and photographer


Recent articles

Report for America Dispatch

“At my age, you wonder why you’re still here,” my neighbor, Julia Weaver, told me.

She's 90. And she isn't the first senior to  say such a thing to me. The thing is, I'm in my early thirties and, during the pandemic, I asked myself the same thing.

In this story, Weaver explains how she's remained resilient while living alone as a widow and, through our connection, I explore my own grief.  

Court rulings enable Palm Springs man to receive more than $73k in survivors benefits — 16 years after his partner's death

After the building owner abandoned them, remaining Legend Gardens residents hustle to find new accommodations

Grown in New Jersey, planted in California. Open to projects anywhere.  




First Place Column (2017) for 'Jersey Girl: Coming to terms with need'


"...this story had me captivated from the very first sentence. You occasionally see stories about family members reconnecting after a long time, but this was told in a masterful way that really showed the humanity of these two siblings."

First Place Feature Story (2021) for 'A Special Connection'

"This is a textbook example of how to take what is essentially a personal column and make it feel universal..."

USC Annenberg Health Journalism California Fellow, 2022

The Gerontological Society of America & the Journalists Network on Generations Journalist in Aging Fellow, 2021

The Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center & Columbia Journalism School ​Age Boom Academy Fellow, 2021

U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellow: Arabic and  Middle Eastern Studies, 2018

Bloomberg-UNC-Berkeley Business Journalism Diversity Fellow, June 2019

California News Publishers Association

  • Coverage of Local Government - 1st Place, 2021

  • Feature Story - 1st Place, 2021

  • Coverage of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Profiles) - 2nd Place, 2021

  • Profile Story - 2nd Place, 2019

  • Best Column -  1st Place, 2018

  • Best Writing - 1st Place, 2018

  • Breaking News - 1st Place, 2017

Report for America Local News Awards

  • Community Leadership Writing - 1st Place, 2022

  • Dispatch of the Year - 2nd Place, 2021

North Carolina Press Association

  • Education Reporting - 3rd Place,  2016

Master's in Journalism

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Berkeley, Calif.

Bachelor of Arts & Sciences

Rutgers University, New Brunswick,  N.J. 


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