Meet ThreeSixty’s 2024 Scholar 

Ayanna Melander, member of the North Community High School class of 2024, is ThreeSixty Journalism’s 2024 Scholar. This award grants her a full-tuition, four-year scholarship to study Emerging Media at the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences, beginning in fall 2024. 

Ayanna Melander

Melander plans to major in journalism, and her passion for reporting runs deep. In her scholarship application, Melander describes the morning of May 26, 2020, when her mom woke her up to go pray for a Black man who died in Minneapolis. She would later learn his name was George Floyd. A CNN reporter took a picture of Ayanna and her mother, Mauri Friestleben, praying on the spot where Floyd was murdered.  

When she saw the image, Melander saw her future: “That was when I knew this was what I had to do. I started to write. I signed up for the journalism class. I scoured the news every day. And my passion for journalism flourished. 

Her high school journalism career led her to report for her community newspaper, North News, and ThreeSixty Journalism.  

Her North News instructor and youth program coordinator, Azhae’la Hanson, has high hopes for Melander’s future. 

“In the time Ayanna has interned with North News, she has been invaluable to our team. She leads with empathy and is in constant pursuit of sharing the truths and triumphs of her peers and the community of North High and North Minneapolis,” Hanson said. “We will miss her! And we are so proud that she can bring her talents to St. Thomas. She is a leading force for the future of journalism, and we can’t wait to see her shine.”  

Melander joined ThreeSixty in the summer of 2023, participating in the News Reporter Academy supported by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Melander profiled Dr. Micah Prairie Chicken, a psychologist with the Indian Health Board. The story was published in the Star Tribune and MinnPost. 

The following week, Melander participated in ThreeSixty’s PR & Advertising Camp, creating a campaign to address social media addiction. Melander presented the final campaign at Weber-Shandwick. 

She spent the rest of her summer as a North News intern, honing her reporting skills. 

“Ayanna is an exceptional journalist whose community-minded passion for reporting is a superpower. We are constantly impressed by her presence, leadership and contribution to our classroom and beyond,” said Theresa Malloy Lemickson, ThreeSixty program manager. “I am so excited to watch Ayanna continue growing in confidence and making her mark on St. Thomas and in the Emerging Media Department.”  

Melander’s career aspirations are to write about environmental and civil justice. 

“Winning this scholarship means that I can thrive in an institution that prepares me for the real world and shapes me into the writer and journalist that I aspire to be,” she said.   

Melander was selected from a competitive pool of applicants who attended ThreeSixty Journalism programming. The scholarship is worth more than $160,000. ThreeSixty supports four students attending St. Thomas with the scholarship annually.