Students Discover the Unexpected, Again

Chevrolet Brings Back HBCU Fellowship Program

Howard University sophomores Alexa Imani Spencer (second from left) and Noni Marshall (second from right) were selected for the 2017 NNPA Discover the Unexpected Journalism Fellowship program. Gracie Lawson-Borders (left), the dean of the School of Communications at Howard University, and Tatyana Hopkins (right), a staff writer for The Washington Informer and former DTU Fellow, joined them in the photo. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)
Howard University sophomores Alexa Imani Spencer (second from left) and Noni Marshall (second from right) were selected for the 2017 NNPA Discover the Unexpected Journalism Fellowship program. Gracie Lawson-Borders (left), the dean of the School of Communications at Howard University, and Tatyana Hopkins (right), a staff writer for The Washington Informer and former DTU Fellow, joined them in the photo. (Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA)

Chevrolet is bringing back its journalism fellowship created to support rising African-American journalism students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) for a second year.

The “Discover the Unexpected” (DTU) program, which launched last year at Howard University, returned this year to connect journalism students from four HBCUs to NNPA newspapers across the country.

The program’s 2017 rollout was completed Tuesday at Howard University with the selection of its final two fellows, following a kickoff event last week at the Atlanta University Center where the program’s six other participants were selected.

The program awards its fellows a summer internship at participating NNPA newspapers, a stipend, a $10,000 scholarship and use of the Next-Generation 2018 Chevrolet Equinox during a portion of their reporting assignments.

“When we had the opportunity to really develop this program and the partnership with the NNPA, we knew it would allow us to continue in those efforts and at the same time really allow us to stay true to many of our passions — which is helping individuals find new roads,” said Michelle Matthews-Alexander, Chevrolet’s manager of diversity marketing. “This program really allows us to provide an opportunity for those new aspiring journalists that are out there and make sure that they’re given opportunities to really expand their craft. It also exposes them to various opportunities that they may not necessarily have so early on in their careers.”

Last year, DTU’s eight fellows gained real-world journalism experience by working in pairs at NNPA newspapers The Washington Informer, Atlanta Voice, The Chicago Defender and The Michigan Chronicle.

This year, The Informer, Atlanta Voice, the New Orleans-based Louisiana Weekly and the Carolinian based out of Raleigh, N.C., will host the fellows, who represent Howard University, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spellman College. Two students from each school were selected.

Alexa Imani Spencer (Howard), Noni Marshall (Howard), Jordan Fisher (Clark), Tiana Hunt (Clark), Ayron Lewallen (Morehouse), Darrell Larome (Morehouse), Taylor Burris (Spelman) and Kelsey Jones (Spelman) were selected as this year’s DTU fellows following the submission of their applications online and interviews with a panel of General Motor and NNPA representatives.

“Receiving this fellowship is an absolute dream come true,” said Jones, a junior at Spelman. “I wanted someone to see my tenacity and passion for journalism, and it feels good to know that the NNPA saw that.”

Spencer says the program has already begun to live up to its name.

She said the opportunity was bought to her attention only days before interviews were held and she ran into several problems with the application, but she persisted and eventually earned a spot among this year’s fellows.

“It feels divine,” she said. “I feel very excited about being a part of a program that is going to uplift [African-American] institutions. I was just arguing about the need to preserve the Black press in class a few days ago.”

Spencer, a sophomore at Howard, said she is solely responsible for funding her education and she hopes the scholarship will help her be the first person in her family to graduate college.

“We have some really great talent this year,” said Constance Thomas, General Motors’ coordinator of diversity marketing events. “We had great talent last year and we’ve got great talent this year.”

Thomas said that she hopes the program will continue to expand to provide opportunities for more students.

About Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer 76 Articles
Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her to just tackle one. The recent Howard University graduate is thankful to have a job and enjoys the thrill she gets from chasing the story, meeting new people and adding new bits of obscure information to her knowledge base. Dubbed with the nickname “Fun Fact” by her friends, Tatyana seems to be full of seemingly “random and useless” facts. Meanwhile, the rising rents in D.C. have driven her to wonder about the length of the adverse possession statute of limitations (15 years?). Despite disliking public speaking, she remembers being scolded for talking in class or for holding up strangers in drawn-out conversations. Her need to understand the world and its various inhabitants frequently lands her in conversations on topics often deemed taboo: politics, religion and money. Tatyana avoided sports in high school she because the thought of a crowd watching her play freaked her out, but found herself studying Arabic, traveling to Egypt and eating a pigeon. She uses social media to scope out meaningful and interesting stories and has been calling attention to fake news on the Internet for years.