Morehouse College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) founded in 1867, has produced many notable alumni, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, and Robert F. Smith. However, until this year, none of them had graduated with a degree in journalism. That honor belongs to Jalen Brown, who became the first person to receive a journalism degree from Morehouse College in its 156-year history.
Brown, who graduated on May 16, 2023, tweeted his achievement with a photo of himself wearing his graduation cap. “My name is Jalen Brown, and I am the FIRST person to receive a Journalism degree in Morehouse College’s 156-year history,” he wrote.
His tweet received over 15,000 likes and hundreds of congratulatory messages from fellow journalists, professors, alumni, and admirers. Nicole Carr, one of his professors and a journalist at ProPublica, praised Brown for his work ethic and storytelling skills. “Proud of you, Jalen,” she wrote. “Happy to have had you in my classroom for two semesters-watching you thrive in your newsroom internships, grow as a writer and think critically about the ways in which we tackle our industry issues today. You are a strong storyteller. Morehouse is proud.”
Brown’s journey to journalism began when he was a sophomore at Morehouse College. He had initially enrolled as a business administration major, but he realized that he had a passion for writing and reporting. He switched his major to sports journalism, which was then a minor program that had been offered for 15 years. However, in 2021, Morehouse College expanded the sports journalism minor into a major centering on journalism in sports, culture and social justice. The new major was made possible by a $1 million donation from Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand as part of their Black Community Commitment program.
“Education is crucial for understanding the Black experience today,” Michael Jordan said in a press release announcing the donation. “We want to help people understand the truth of our past and help tell the stories that will shape our future.”
The new major also attracted several adjunct professors with journalism experience, such as Carr and David Dennis Jr., who taught Brown in his senior year. Dennis, who is also a senior culture editor at The Undefeated, said that Brown was one of his best students and that he was impressed by his versatility and curiosity.
“Jalen was always eager to learn new things and challenge himself,” Dennis said. “He could write about anything from sports to politics to entertainment with ease and flair. He also had a keen eye for finding stories that mattered to his community and beyond.”
Brown said that he was inspired by the legacy of Morehouse College and its alumni who have made an impact on society through their words and actions. He said that he wanted to follow their footsteps and use his journalism skills to amplify the voices of marginalized people and hold power accountable.
“I feel honored and humbled to be the first journalism graduate from Morehouse College,” Brown said. “I know that I stand on the shoulders of giants who have paved the way for me and many others. I hope that I can make them proud and inspire the next generation of journalists who will come after me.”
Brown has already proven himself as a talented journalist who can produce quality work in different media platforms. He has interned at CNN, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Undefeated, where he covered topics such as sports, politics, culture, and social justice. He has also written for The Maroon Tiger, the student newspaper of Morehouse College, where he served as the editor-in-chief in his senior year.
Some of his notable stories include an interview with Stacey Abrams, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist; a profile of Robert F. Smith, a billionaire philanthropist and Morehouse alumnus who paid off the student debt of the class of 2019; and an analysis of how COVID-19 affected HBCU sports.
Brown said that he plans to pursue a career in journalism after graduation and that he is open to working in different media outlets and formats. He said that he wants to continue telling stories that matter and that he hopes to make a positive difference in the world through his journalism.
“I love journalism because it allows me to connect with people from different backgrounds and perspectives,” Brown said. “It also gives me an opportunity to inform, educate, entertain, and empower my audience. I believe that journalism is more than just a profession; it is a public service and a calling.”
Ashley Williams, an exceptional woman, showcased her brilliance and determination by earning a law degree and a master’s degree from two different universities in two different states within the same week. Her accomplishments exemplify the essence of Black Girl Magic.
In May, Ashley received her Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Pennsylvania, just two days after obtaining her Master’s degree in Political Management from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The unique feat was made even more remarkable by the fact that the George Washington University did not offer a dual-degree program.
While pursuing her degrees, Ashley also held a significant role at the State Department as the Special Advisor and Director of Special Projects to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. She embarked on her master’s degree program in 2015 at George Washington University, aiming to advance her undergraduate degree and passion for politics while continuing her work.
Ashley explained that the political management program at GW was an ideal fit, offering her the flexibility to participate online or in-person, depending on her schedule. Soon after starting the program, she applied to law school, fulfilling a lifelong aspiration influenced by her parents, who are both lawyers. Continue reading about Ashely here.