By Jackson DeMos
Third-year doctoral student Melissa Brough and alumna Caitlan Carroll (M.A. Broadcast Journalism '07) both earned Fulbright Scholarships for the 2010-2011 school year and will travel to Colombia and Germany, respectively, for their research.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright Program chooses participants based on their academic merit and leadership potential, and provides them with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. USC Annenberg students or alumni have now been awarded a total of eight Fulbrights in the past four years.
"These Fulbright Scholarships are a tribute to Melissa and Caitlan and to the intellectual quality and international interests of Annenberg students as a group," said Bryce Nelson, journalism professor and chair of the University's committee on National and International Graduate Fellowships. "Annenberg students have won two or more Fulbright Scholarships in most recent years. Congratulations to Melissa and Caitlin for upholding an excellent tradition."
Brough (pictured, right), who attended Brown University for her undergraduate studies and grew up in Vermont, plans to study how Colombian youth are participating in local media production, and how they in turn may become more engaged in civic and social justice issues.
“In the U.S. we talk about participatory media as mostly related to Web 2.0 and social platforms," Brough said. "There’s a long history of what can be called participatory media or 'citizen media' in Colombia, and young people are often at the forefront of this. I’m interested in looking at how these practices relate to civic engagement and social change, from a cross-cultural perspective.”
She attended a conference on alternative and community media in Medellín, Colombia last summer, so both the country and research won't be foreign concepts to her. In fact, she has been interested in youth and participatory media since she became involved in video and radio documentaries as a teenager.
"Learning to produce media was an empowering and eye-opening experience for me," she said. "From there I continued to work on projects that enabled people to produce their own media in a variety of contexts. Broadly, I'm interested in how media can be engaged to forward social justice and social change."
Carroll (pictured, left), who has worked as a producer and reporter for the national radio program Marketplace since graduating in 2007, will travel to Berlin as part of the Fulbright Commission's Young Journalist program to explore innovations in health care and technology coming out of Germany, with a focus on the elderly. She will first head to Marburg, Germany in August to take extensive language courses.
"This Fulbright appealed to me because it's specifically for journalists," Carroll said. "The goal is to have us out reporting."
She said she will spend time in German newsrooms, exploring the vibrant research coming out of Berlin and elsewhere in Germany. Because of her background at Marketplace, most of her stories will have an economic bent.
"What excites me is the opportunity to spend a year getting to know Germany," Carroll said. "There is so much important news coming out of the country. It’ll be great to cover Germany from Germany and then tell stories relevant to U.S. audiences. I also want to find spice-of-life pieces that will really introduce Americans to German life."
She said she sees it as a major challenge to put herself into a completely new environment.
"It’s what makes people good journalists," she said. "You have to be a quick responder who can jump into any situation, get comfortable and make connections."
She got her start at Marketplace by interning there in her final year at USC Annenberg. After graduation she began working full time and has since covered a wide range of stories about the economy and health care. She still meets with former professors such as Willa Seidenberg, Michael Parks and Judy Muller for lunch.
"I had a great time at Annenberg," she said. "When people ask me about the program, I tell them its greatest strength is the teaching staff and professors. They've all been in the field and are so generous with their knowledge and contacts. They really launched me in my career. They continue to be a guiding hand and offer input and perspective."
"The Fulbright is a true honor and I know my time at USC Annenberg put me in an ideal position to receive this award," Carroll said. "I’m excited for the opportunity to become an even better journalist."
Past Marketplace stories from Carroll:
Health Care Handlers