Catch up on our fellows’ coverage, and learn where they’re headed next.

HBCU Spotlight
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A monthly newsletter that explores issues facing historically Black colleges and universities and follows the work of our HBCU Student Journalism Network. By Naomi Harris.

We are saying goodbye to our spring HBCU reporting fellows this week. It’s been a blast working with these six talented, creative, and curious student journalists.

We wanted to take a moment to recap some successes of this group, who are the inaugural fellows in the HBCU Student Journalism Network. But first, a reminder: We’re accepting applications until June 1 for our fall fellow class! This is a paid, remote, and part-time opportunity for current HBCU student journalists interested in digital media. The fall program will run roughly Sept. 5 – Dec. 1, 2023. (More details here.)

I’m truly grateful and humbled by this experience and I wish all journalism students or those who seek to be print writers can experience this type of opportunity.

Alivia Welch

Looking back on the fellowship

We’re excited about the stories told by our first group of fellows. And, we’re grateful to Jarrett Carter, Sr. and Wesley Wright for their leadership of the program, and all the editing and support they provided.

At the start of the program, fellows worked together to debunk HBCU misconceptions. And to cap off the fellowship, they asked recent graduates about what they learned while attending an HBCU. Both stories were co-published with Capital B.

Here’s a look back on what our fellows have accomplished, and where they’re headed. (And, donate here to support this work.)

Auzzy Byrdsell

Auzzy is a rising senior at Morehouse College. During the fellowship, Auzzyexplored a culture shift underway at Morehouse — the traditional views of masculinity are giving way to a more inclusive, forward-thinking campus. Auzzy’s story was co-published with Capital B Atlanta.

What’s next for Auzzy: He was recently part of the HBCU Media Collective, a project of Dow Jones and Columbia Journalism School. This summer, he’ll be interning with the Boston Celtics’ communications team through the NBA x HBCU Fellowship. And, Auzzy will be editor-in-chief of the Maroon Tiger.

Brittany Patterson

Brittanywill graduate from Southern University and A&M College next spring. Brittany detailed efforts at Louisiana HBCUs to increase the number of Black, male teachers — a group that makes up just 5% of the state’s teachers currently. This story was co-published with Verité News. And, Brittany dug into criticisms of Parent PLUS loans, a story that ran in Capital B.

Brittany’s takeaway: Brittany says the fellowship taught her the importance of making an article connect to her audience. That includes finding sources with relevant, first-hand experience.

Jasper Smith

Jasper is a rising senior at Howard University. Jasper spoke to women who are returning to HBCUs to finish degrees after time away. And, she detailed Howard University students’ criticisms of a new Pentagon research contract. Both stories ran in Capital B.

Jasper’s takeaway: Jasper grew as an enterprise reporter during the fellowship. “A lesson I have learned is that good reporting can take time. I have deepened my appreciation for taking time to speak with a variety of sources and get an array of perspectives,” she said.

What’s next for Jasper: She’ll be a digital media intern at the Arizona Republic this summer, via the Dow Jones News Fund.

This fellowship helped me get journalistic exposure and experience outside of my college paper.

Jasper Smith

Skylar Stephens

Skylar is rising junior at Xavier University of Louisiana. She worked with Naomi Harris, our race and equity reporter, to co-report a story on the declining share of male students at HBCUs. Their work was co-published with The Washington Post.

Skylar’s takeaway: During the fellowship, Skylar worked through some of the more challenging aspects of journalism — intensive editing and the occasional criticism that can come from readers. “I’m prepared to continue in the world of journalism and know what it will look like,” she says.

Alivia Welch

Alivia graduated this spring from Jackson State University. She worked closely with Molly Minta, our higher ed reporter at Mississippi Today, during the fellowship. Together, they co-reported a story about the persistent water problems at Jackson State.

What’s next for Alivia: Alivia will be interning at the Hechinger Report this summer.

Tyuanna Williams

Tyuanna is a rising senior at Claflin University. During the fellowship, she spoke to HBCU police chiefs about how they are trying to rebuild relationships with students in a story co-published by Capital B. She also worked with Brittany on the Parent PLUS loans explainer.

Tyuanna’s takeaway: Tyuanna improved her reporting skills during the fellowship. Interviewing is “a hard task but it’s absolutely crucial and is essentially the meat of the story,” she says.

What’s next for Tyuanna: This summer, she’ll be interning at the Times and Democrat in Orangeburg, S.C. And, next year she’ll be the EIC of her student newspaper, The Panther.

Thank you!

We appreciate everyone who helped support our fellows this spring. That includes their mentors:

  • Chris Quintana, USA Today
  • Molly Minta, Mississippi Today
  • Gavin Godfrey, Capital B
  • Sonali Kohli, URL Media
  • Zipporah Osei,
  • Naomi Harris, Open Campus

Fellows heard from a great group of journalists in trainings and panels, including Erica L. Green of the New York Times and Adam Harris of The Atlantic, Gulf States Newsroom’s Priska Neely, and Marianne Szegedy-Maszak and Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones. Thank you all!

Are you interested in coaching our fellows, or speaking on future panels? Email us:

We hope to grow this program — with your support.