UC Berkeley student receives $2,000 Pete Wilson Journalism Scholarship

Michaela Vatcheva writes, produces, shoots and edits her own documentaries. But her path becoming a journalist is far from traditional.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An aspiring independent filmmaker and graduate student at UC Berkeley has been named this year's recipient of the Pete Wilson Journalism Scholarship. Pete, of course, was our anchor here at ABC7 during a career spanning over 30 years.

We remember ABC7 News anchor Pete Wilson as a journalist who could do it all -- anchoring, reporting and even hosting a radio talk show. He would be proud that an annual scholarship bearing his name has gone this year to a UC graduate student who similarly does it all.

MORE INFORMATION: ABC7's Pete Wilson journalism scholarship

Michaela Vatcheva writes, produces, shoots and edits her own documentaries. But her path becoming a journalist is far from traditional. She grew up in Bulgaria. Her roots are Turkish. At age 17, she left home to study first in Germany on her own.

"I lived in France. I lived in the UK. I got scholarships wherever I could find them," she said. "I learned how to shoot and edit."

Her body of work reflects her self-reliance and independence. She's 34 - a decade older than most of her Berkeley classmates.

"You can start as an adult to gain new skills, you can start to remake yourself, and I'm seeking out these stories of people arising from adversity and hardship and making their own path."

One such documentary that led to her selection as a Pete Wilson Scholar is entitled "Fragile." Shot in Wilson's home state of Wisconsin, it follows the struggle of an 84-year-old woman's determination to compete in the male-dominated sport of ice boating. Vatcheva used a drone to capture unusual angles. She received FAA drone certification even before she was able to buy one.

"Technology definitely opens up the possibility to tell some stories that previously would have been a little bit more difficult to tell," she said.

Another of her documentary projects focused on Native Americans making corn soup. One of her current projects focuses on women of color finding their identities through their connection with the ocean.

Vatcheva receives $2,000 from the Radio Television Digital News Foundation, which administers the scholarship. Upon graduation next year, she hopes to become an independent filmmaker.

Learn more about The Pete Wilson Journalism Scholarship here.
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