Give a Gift, Jumpstart a Career

SMPA CAN scholarship winners reflect on internship experiences

Nana Ayemange
November 25, 2015

This fall, SMPA launched the Career Access Network (SMPA CAN) to enhance the value of an SMPA education by supporting experiential learning, enhancing professional connections, and creating community among current students and alumni. The idea for SMPA CAN came from the success of the J. Michael Shanahan Journalism Internship Fund, which gives Journalism and Mass Communication juniors the opportunity to pursue summer internships at a news organization that they otherwise might not have been able to afford.

After the success of the 2015 recipients of the award, Farida Fawzy and Nana Agyemang, SMPA's National Council recommended that the school expand the scholarship opportunities to include also include Political Communication students, creating SMPA CAN.

SMPA CAN, in conjunction with the Shanahan Fund, will continue to honor the late SMPA Professor J. Michael Shanahan (1943 – 2014) by supporting an area that he cared about deeply and worked on extensively: student internships and mentoring. SMPA CAN will support experiential learning through funded internships, encourage professional connections through networking events and create community among students and alumni with a mentoring program.

For evidence that this type of scholarship benefits SMPA students, just ask Fawzy and Agyemang.

Fawzy, who is Egyptian and is an international student from Abu Dhabi, has been interning with BBC since last October. She works at the news desk, helping the broadcast department research and produce stories. Thanks to the Shanahan Internship Fund, she was able to extend the internship into this summer.

“I come from an international background,” said Fawzy. “I really like that aspect of media and journalism; that it’s so global. At first, I was undecided at GW. When I started taking classes in SMPA, I learned how globalized the media has become and how much of an international impact it has. I realized that journalism and mass communication is well suited for me and my interests.”

Agyemang is one of the founding members of the GW Association of Black Journalists and interned this summer with “CBS This Morning.” Growing up in an urban neighborhood in New Jersey, Agyemang felt that minority voices were never heard in such a populated community, so she began to collect stories and talk to people and thought, “Isn’t this reporting?”

“At age 11 or 12, I was interviewing people and I didn’t even know it,” said Agyemang. “On the other side, my focus is photo journalism. I want to be able to capture stories through photographs. Sometimes people don’t want to talk and sometimes they don’t need to talk. You can capture the emotions in a story through a photograph and it really tells a million words.”

As you might expect, BBC and CBS internships do not involve making copies and coffee. Fawzy and Agyemang both enjoyed rigorous experiences.

“The summer internship allowed me to experience the nature of a 24-hour news cycle, immersing me into the fast-paced and ever-changing culture of a global news organization,” said Fawzy. “Having the chance to witness and be involved in creating, producing, and broadcasting a news story from start to finish was an incredible experience that I am so grateful for, thanks to the late Professor Shanahan and SMPA CAN.”

“Receiving the scholarship meant opportunity to me," said Agyemang. "I would have never interned at CBS, I wouldn't have had the living costs and therefore would have had to go back home. It's allowed me to be at a huge news corporation and chase my dreams.”

SMPA hopes to raise $100,000 toward SMPA CAN during its Silver Anniversary year in 2016 and $250,000 over the next five years. This fund provides support for unpaid or low paid internships that students might not otherwise be able to afford and could be the key to that first rung on the career ladder. Two SMPA students have had experiences they'll never forget and that will help them take their first professional steps with confidence. Help SMPA reach its goal to give other students that same experience and give today.