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Pulitzer Center Update June 6, 2023

Reporting Fellows in K-12 Classrooms


The Pulitzer Center Education team has reached tens of thousands of teachers and students with curricula, The 1619 Project teaching materials, professional development sessions, exhibitions, and contests and workshops. They also connect K-12 classrooms with journalists who share their insights and reporting tips via virtual and in-person visits.

The Pulitzer Center’s Campus Consortium team partners with more than 40 colleges and universities located in the United States, Canada, and Qatar to provide fellowships and mentorship opportunities for students and select post-graduates interested in journalism. On June 2, 2023, the Pulitzer Center announced the 2023 Reporting Fellows cohort.

Together, the Pulitzer Center’s K-12 Education and Campus Consortium teams work to deepen curiosity and empathy at all educational levels.

In the first half of 2023, Reporting Fellows have taken to K-12 classroom visits with alacrity. Jessica Mims, K-12 Education coordinator at the Pulitzer Center, said that having Reporting Fellows in primary and secondary classrooms allows students to “see first hand what they could become. Being closer in age resonates with all students. [Reporting Fellows] bring an excitement and energy that is unmatched because they’re fresh and new to the field.”

The Pulitzer Center reached participating Reporting Fellows Meera Santhanam, Safi El-Gamal, Laila Shadid, Ngozi Cole, and Elisa Agosto for comments.

Santhanam, who is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago and incoming J.D. candidate at Harvard Law School, spoke to a group of kindergarten through third grade students about reporting on women filmmakers in Lebanon. It was "invigorating," said Santhanam. "Hearing the chorus of excitement from young [storytellers] [...] took me back to my own third grade classroom. [...] No age is too young to start asking questions [...], and it's wonderful to the the Pulitzer Center [...] instill that," she wrote. Santhanam’s Pulitzer Center project, Through Her Lens: The Feminist Filmmakers Revolutionizing Lebanese Cinema, was featured by Middle East Eye and The Markaz Review.

El-Gamal, a recent graduate of Davidson College, said: “Speaking to the kids at North School created such a fun processional and cultural exchange! I enjoyed the idea of teaching them how to expand the empathy and art of listening they demonstrate in their immediate social circles [to] the reporting process.” El-Gamal’s project, An Emerging Moroccan Identity: Modernity, Language, and Religion, was featured in Morocco World News.

Laila Shadid, said visiting the The Grace School in Rhode Island was a “highlight of [her] experience at the Pulitzer Center.” Reached via email, Shadid emphasized the importance of “shar[ing] underreported stories with children from a young age.” One student said of Shadid’s virtual visit: “I learned that the wall was built in Palestine. I learned why the wall was built. I learned that you need to get checked by soldiers in Palestine. I enjoyed that Laila spoke very clearly and used pictures that helped explain what she was talking about.” Shadid, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, reported Childhood Under Israeli Occupation: Stories From Palestine. Her work was featured in Fenjan and The New Arab.

A student in Phoenix, Arizona, said of Elisa Agosto’s virtual visit: “I believe it’s important because [underreported stories] need to be viewed as much as the stories that are covered everywhere.” Agosto’s multimedia project, Activists Empower Latina Women in New York’s Cleaning Industry, was published in English and Spanish.

2021 Fellows Imran Mohammad Fazal Hoque, Emma Davis, and Rachael Sorcher have also appeared in multiple classrooms since 2022.

Hoque won a 2022 Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting as a 2021 City Colleges Chicago Reporting Fellow. Recently, he traveled to Washington, D.C., with a Rohingya advocacy group. Hoque has brought his project Rohingya Diaspora in the U.S. to over 20 classrooms as of May 2023. A student in Frisco, Texas, was struck by Hoque’s persistence: “I learned about the struggle that some people go through and still the drive that they have to keep going.”

Reached via email, Hoque said: "People struggle to believe my story because at times I can hardly believe it myself." He also said: "[v]isiting students in their classrooms with my stories provides me the opportunities to raise awareness of the lives of immigrants like Rohingya in this country; it helps our diverse society to become compassionate."

Davis, a graduate of the University of Richmond, said: "I was ecstatic to see the students in DC connecting with the lived experiences that students in Denmark entrusted to me [...]. [S]tudents were taking a critical look at the structures shaping their own education—and questioning them. Her Reporting Fellowship project, Denmark: Identity, Segregation, and Social Cohesion, explored how the country's hardline shift on immigration affected students. It was featured in PBS NewsHour.

Sorcher, a Master’s of Public Health candidate at the Boston University School of Public Health, discussed health equity with students. Afterward, she asked them to imagine that they had received a grant from the Pulitzer Center to report on a social issue: “I asked them to think through who their issue impacts the most, how they would report with sensitivity on the topic, and what impact they hope their story has on the community,” she wrote. “In response, the students provided extremely thoughtful insight and reflections.”

“I found this opportunity incredibly beneficial [...] as a reporter; exploring how to discuss reporting with students who may have little to no experience in doing so reinforced to me the importance of reporting basics such as conducting thorough research [...] [and] seeking many perspectives on a topic,” said Sorcher. Her project, Dignified Health Care for All, profiles Massachusetts General Hospital surgical coordinator Candace Nguyen, who is one of very few trans or non-binary healthcare providers of color in the country.

Finally, 2023 Climate Science Reporting Fellow Muriel Alarcón presented to students about her 2020 Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow project, The Food Revolution in New York's Latino Community. “These classes have been one of the greatest experiences in my career,” she said, "I am very grateful for the trust [the K-12 Education team] [placed] in me and [...] my work." Alarcón told students that "one only needs curiosity to become familiar with [an] unfamiliar topic." This can also "give us the opportunity to do the inverse exercise: become surprised by the familiar stories that surround us."

A group of students from the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, CA invited Alarcón on their podcast. An elementary school teacher in Houston said that Alarcón “modeled skills I am teaching my students.”

Alarcón, a former 2020 Post-Graduate Reporting Fellow, joined the Pulitzer Center community when the world had just pitched into a pandemic: “When I was part of the Pulitzer Center, I felt like I was in a family, not alone anymore.” In an interview with former Reporting Fellows Intern Isha Trivedi, Alarcón said, “I think the possibility of exchanging ideas [...] [with] new audiences can give us so much power.”

The Campus Consortium and K-12 Education teams are excited to get to know the 2023 Fellows and their reporting projects better. We hope our strong network of alumni, educators, and students will have opportunities to engage with them, too. Stay up to date on all things education and journalism with the Pulitzer Center’s weekly Education Newsletter and monthly Campus Consortium Newsletter.