Chevrolet celebrated aspiring Black journalists during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 47th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
Journalism students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who completed the 2017 Discover the Unexpected (DTU) Journalism Fellowship were honored at an awards luncheon Thursday hosted by Chevrolet (a brand of General Motors, No. 42 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA).
"We were excited to collaborate with NNPA for the second consecutive year," said Michelle Matthews-Alexander, diversity marketing manager at Chevrolet.
"The program was designed to introduce HBCU students to the world of multimedia journalism through the lens of some of the nation's top Black newspapers in our communities."
This past summer, eight students representing Clark Atlanta University, Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College worked with NNPA editors and reporters at NNPA newspapers: Washington Informer, Atlanta Voice, Louisiana Weekly and The Carolinian.
Along with an eight-week internship, students also received a scholarship, a stipend and access to a 2018 Chevrolet Equinox to aid them in covering stories throughout the program.
"Our goal was to watch our selected fellows thrive under the mentorship of Black publications," said Matthews-Alexander.
At the awards ceremony, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr., president and CEO of NNPA, discussed how the fellows worked with veteran journalists to gain hands-on experience and used their unique talents in digital and social media news and content development.
Dorothy Leavell, chairman of NNPA, discussed the importance of mentoring the next generation journalists.
"You all were truly journalism stars while telling the stories not only the African American community needed to hear, but all communities," Matthews-Alexander said to the fellows.
Legendary lyricist and hip hop pioneer MC Lyte, the program's national spokesperson, served as emcee. She introduced each of the fellows.
"We hear a lot of discussion about how important the freedom of the press is, the responsibility of the press to report the cold, hard facts to the community, so we can learn, grow and be knowledgeable," MC Lyte said when introducing State of the Union Scholar Award recipients Noni Marshall and Alexa Imani Spencer.
"To do so in a political landscape takes a lot of confidence and optimism, as well as a journalist to listen to many perspectives and report objectively. These two fellows were front and center in D.C. reporting on the happenings of the community."
Both Marshall and Spencer are Howard University students and interned at the Washington Informer.
"I was surprised when I was accepted for the [DTU] fellowship," Spencer said.
"The truth is I didn't have much confidence in my ability as a journalist. But all that changed on the very first day I came to The Washington Informer. The staff was so supportive they immediately pushed me out of my comfort zone.
"I was assigned stories that forced me to problem solve and produce work that would be viewed and scrutinized by the public. There was no time to question myself for my abilities, as I had to get with the program."
Fellows were awarded a special certificate of achievement for their journalism work.
"Investing in the DTU scholarship was no stretch," said Matthews-Alexander. "The same qualities it takes to invest in the unexpected align with the same qualities that make Chevy's brand DNA.
"Our longstanding commitment to the African American community is something that we take seriously within Chevrolet and General Motors."
View a video project created by DTU fellows in Washington, D.C.: