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Project May 13, 2024

William & Mary Sharp Seminar 2023-2024


During the 2023-2024 academic year, William & Mary students completed the 13th Sharp Writer-in-Residence Program/Journalism Seminar, developing their reporting and writing skills with mentorship from journalist Stephanie Hanes and the support of Pulitzer Center staff and a series of Pulitzer Center grantees.

The four-credit, two-semester seminar program is a joint Campus Consortium initiative with the Pulitzer Center and William & Mary's Charles Center, supported by William & Mary alumni Anne and Barry Sharp. It serves as a journalism incubator and provides students with opportunities to report on important topics of the day for more general audiences.

“Every story, even one on as big a topic as climate change, becomes a local story, and my reporting in Norfolk helped me see how rising waters are affecting real people—their lives, where they live, and the quality of their neighborhoods,” said Shradha Dinesh, a data science and self-designed political journalism double major who first learned about the W&M journalism seminar while still in high school.  

Dinesh spoke during a March 2024 event featuring several seminar students who shared their experiences, insights, and reporting with more than 40 W&M students, staff, and faculty. 

Each of the 13 students who participate in the 2023-2024 seminar undertook a reporting project of their own topic choice, with the results shedding light on a range of focus areas and locations, including Japan’s custody laws, Sudanese refugees in Egypt, LGBTQIA+ communities in Utah, the abortion movement and politics in rural Ohio, and financial consequences of extensive storms in the Caribbean.

While Hanes worked directly with the students during the seminar, other journalists joined the session to provide details on their reporting, writing, and editing process as well as their experience with multimedia. Jessica Piskho, an attorney turned journalist, spoke of her Pulitzer Center-supported project on sheriffs. Photographer Brandi Morin, an award-winning Cree/Iroquois/French journalist, shared her expertise in reporting on injustice, the environment, tradition, and resilience from an Indigenous perspective.

For the final seminar session, Sara Miller Llana joined Hanes to speak about their Christian Science Monitor multi-part climate series, The Climate Generation. Via Zoom, they brought in their editor, Clara Germani, to give the students insights into the editing process.

Pulitzer Center staff members Ann Peters and Mikaela Schmitt lent their support during the sessions.

Vivian Hoang shared how the Sharp Seminar exposed her to new ways of thinking. Her reporting took her to Philadelphia, where she examined how a proposed basketball arena threatened to displace residents and businesses in the city’s historic Chinatown. 

“I went on an in-depth walking tour with two local activists and interviewed local business owners, all of whom added the very necessary human emotion and color to my story as I sought to uplift and portray their full stories,” Hoang said. “The fabric of my story would not have been complete without directly going to their community, hearing their voices, and seeing the places they lived and worked.”