2 Virginia college students awarded summer journalism fellowships

Student journalists attending the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee University have been named 2023 summer newsroom fellows by the Virginia SPJ,SDX Educational Foundation.

Ananya Chetia, a rising senior at UR, was selected as the 2022 George A. Bowles Jr. Fellow, named for the late Virginia broadcast journalist. It is the top award in the foundation’s annual summer fellowship competition. 

The foundation also awarded a fellowship to Luke Fountain, a junior at Washington and Lee. Fountain, from Hickory, North Carolina, is a double major in journalism and politics.

Chetia and Fountain were selected in a competition that drew applications from college journalists across Virginia. Both fellows will receive a $1,500 cash stipend to support a summer newsroom internship. The funds can be used for any internship-related travel, lodging, supplies and other costs.

Ananya Chetia

Chetia, from Saudi Arabia, is the executive editor for The Collegian, the student-run newspaper at UR. She is majoring in journalism and minoring in English and in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. Chetia expects to graduate in May 2024.

She has been an editorial intern at Richmond Magazine and a fellow at the Rickshaw Film Foundation. At UR, Chetia has been a writing consultant assisting students and faculty and a program associate editing a newsletter and social media for the Modlin Center for the Arts.

“From living under a monarchy to having my first hot dog in Brooklyn, writing is my outlet in expressing frustrations and happiness from the many places I’ve lived and visited,” Chetia wrote in her fellowship application. 

She added: “Living in an authoritative regime and democracy showed me that people rely on good journalism to speak up against the government and stand up for the people. It is my dream someday to work as an international foreign correspondent and accurately portray the people, the beauty and tragedies of my three homes – India, Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

Chetia has been awarded an internship from the Dow Jones News Fund for the summer of 2023. She will be a digital media intern for Inside Climate News, writing articles and working in teams for long-term investigative projects.

Luke Fountain

Fountain, who expects to graduate in May 2025, has been a reporter for The News-Gazette, the newspaper in Lexington, Virginia, where Washington and Lee University is located. He also is an editor and reporter for The Ring-tum Phi, the university’s student newspaper.

Last summer, Fountain was a congressional intern at the U.S. House of Representatives. At Washington and Lee, he has competed in mock trials, assisted fellow students with résumés and professional development, and helped bring celebrity speakers to campus.

In his fellowship application, Fountain wrote, “Growing up in rural North Carolina, the stories and struggles many in my community were facing often went unnoticed or ignored.” He stated, “It is our job as journalists to ask the tough questions, hold people accountable, and be the voice for the forgotten.”

During the summer of 2023, Fountain will be a general news intern at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville, with a focus on education and criminal justice.

About the foundation and its fellowship program

The foundation was formed in 1971 by the Virginia Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Since then, it has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships and fellowships to more than 90 students attending Virginia colleges and universities. Here is a list of recipients, including bios and photos, over the past half-century.

The foundation will begin taking applications for the summer 2024 fellowships early next year. Applicants must be sophomores, juniors or seniors enrolled at an accredited Virginia college or university. Applicants need not be journalism majors but must demonstrate intent to pursue a journalism career in print, broadcast or online media.

The foundation seeks donations to support the fellowship program. Donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of donations go toward the fellowships. Checks (payable to Va. SPJ,SDX Educational Foundation) may be mailed to:

     Brian Eckert 
     VSSEF Treasurer and Executive Director
     2701 River Oaks Dr. 
     Midlothian, VA 23113

Published by SPJ Virginia Pro

SPJ is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry through the daily work of its nearly 10,000 members; works to inspire and educate current and future journalists through professional development; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press through its advocacy efforts.

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