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Merrill College

The Washington Post Announces 2023 Class of Academic Year Fellows from Merrill College, Howard University

The Washington Post is delighted to announce the 2023 class of Academic Year Fellows who will cover sports, edit breaking news and enterprise stories, produce audio, and report on climate and environment alongside award-winning journalists during their fall semester.

In partnership with Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications and the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, two students from each school will join the Post newsroom for 10 weeks for an immersive experience working in a rigorous, fast-paced, 24-hour news environment.

“We can’t wait for Sapna, Rachel, Jasper and Trinity to begin their work in the newsroom. Each already brings an impressive set of journalistic skills and talent, and it’s not a one-way street; their unique perspectives will only make our coverage better,” said Carla Broyles, senior editor at The Washington Post. “This partnership also provides journalists at the dawn of their careers with access to training and mentoring and the opportunity to build relationships they can call on throughout their careers.”

University of Maryland graduate student Sapna Bansil will join the Sports staff, and junior Rachel McCrea will cover climate and environment.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Sapna and Rachel, two gifted young journalists who already have gained valuable real-world experience that will benefit them greatly at The Washington Post," Merrill College Dean Rafael Lorente said. "We are excited to see what they learn, and we are grateful to continue this important partnership with The Post."

Meet University of Maryland’s fellows:

Sapna Bansil

Sapna Bansil is a graduate student at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and a data reporter for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism and The Diamondback. Before launching a career in journalism, Bansil spent a decade as a pediatric occupational therapist at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, but she has been drawn to storytelling and sports since childhood. This summer, she interned at The Philadelphia Inquirer, covering local sports, which boosted the Inquirer’s coverage of women’s sports in particular. She also covered women’s basketball for The Baltimore Banner and has freelanced for Baltimore Fishbowl and Capital News Service.

Rachel McCreaRachel McCrea, a junior at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, covered the environment, local business, community events and performing arts as a summer intern for the San Mateo Daily Journal in California. As a freelance reporter for The Diamondback, she wrote stories on campus events and reported on stormwater pollution awareness efforts, among other topics. McCrea is trained in digital photography and serves as the photographer and social media manager for the university’s Nearspace Balloon Payload Program.

"These two students came to journalism through the compassion they have for their communities and the world: Rachel through the smog and scant water in her native California, and Sapna through caring for vulnerable children and their families and a passion for fairness in sport," said Karen Denny, Merrill College's director of internships and career development. "We're so proud of the journalists Sapna and Rachel have become."

Howard University students Jasper Smith and Trinity Webster-Bass will edit and produce on the News Multiplatform Editing Desk and Audio staffs, respectively.

“Working for The Washington Post as an intern can be a tremendous boost for a budding journalist, and the Howard students who have participated in the program in the past have gone on to wonderful positions upon graduation,” said Ingrid Sturgis, chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film at Howard University. “They learned to navigate the newsroom and developed a better understanding of how news is produced from the reporting to the audience analytics. I’m sure Howard University students Jasper Smith, editor in chief at the Hilltop, and Trinity Webster-Bass, who has led the student chapter of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, will excel. Congratulations to them both.”

Meet Howard University’s fellows:

Jasper SmithJasper Smith, a senior at Howard University, manages a staff of nearly 60 student journalists as editor in chief of the Hilltop. During her tenure, Smith also established award-winning investigations and multimedia sections. As a digital media intern at the Arizona Republic this summer, she wrote headlines, copy-edited articles, and produced and published stories on while prioritizing search engine optimization. Smith has covered higher education and trends as an HBCU Student Journalism Network Fellow for Open Campus Media and topics such as homelessness in Washington, local elections and public health initiatives for Street Sense Media.

Trinity Webster-BassTrinity Webster-Bass is a junior at Howard University, where she is the digital media manager for the campus chapter of the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting and covers culture for the Hilltop. She has held internships at WHUR 96.3 FM, where she was responsible for daily song selection, social media posting, and research and correspondence with artists, and at WJCT 89.9 FM, an NPR affiliate station in Jacksonville, Fla., where she, among other duties, wrote scripts for “First Coast Connect With Melissa Ross,” edited audio files and managed social media accounts.

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