W&L’s Avalon Pernell ’23 Awarded Fulbright to Germany Pernell has been awarded a Young Professional Journalist Program Award to conduct research and gain career experience in Germany.
Washington and Lee University senior Avalon Pernell ’23 has been awarded a Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Program Award to Germany. At W&L, Pernell is a Johnson Scholar majoring in journalism and German. She is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and graduated from Tuscaloosa Academy.
The Young Professional Journalist Program gives U.S. journalists an early-career opportunity to conduct independent research and gain practice-oriented experience in Germany while immersing themselves in the political, economic, cultural and social dynamics of the host country.
“I plan to work on a project entitled ‘Lost Threads Come to Light: An Exploration of Afro-Germany Identity Formation in Berlin,” said Pernell. “I see this project as a continuation of the independent study I conducted for my German major, which looks at how the history of Afro-German communities in East and West Germany impacted Afro-German literature and poetry emerging during the post-war era.”
Pernell’s project will be a five-part podcast series that will focus on how Afro-Germans negotiate the line of their multi-hyphenate identities in the workplace, the hurdles standing in the way of this community’s economic success, and the steps that can be taken to build greater economic equity for Afro-Germans and all residents of Germany’s capital city.
“Since going abroad to Berlin during Winter Term of my junior year, I’ve been enthralled with learning more about the Afro-German community,” Pernell said. “I want to compare the experiences of the Black diasporic community in Germany to my own and others’ experiences in the U.S. This grant will also allow me to pursue my passion for business journalism with a fascinating topic that I’m excited to dive into deeper.”
Pernell has demonstrated a passion for journalism from the moment she stepped on W&L’s campus, and she has enthusiastically pursued opportunities to learn more about the field, gain experience, and build meaningful relationships with her peers and mentors on campus. She is grateful for the opportunities that have come her way through these connections.
Pernell is also someone who will take matters into her own hands in order to achieve her goals, a quality that Toni Locy, professor of journalism and mass communications, greatly admires in her.
“I’m thrilled Avalon got the Fulbright because it is a recognition of the type of person she is,” Locy said. “She is someone who doesn’t wait for others to tell her what to do, she will get in there and figure it out. She knew from the get-go that she wanted to major in journalism, and she learns as much as she can on her own. She’s a complete joy to have in the classroom because she’s engaged in the material and engaging with her classmates. Her comments are always thoughtful, and there’s not a superficial bone in Avalon’s body.”
The first time Locy met Pernell was when Pernell was on campus for her Johnson Scholarship interview as a high school senior. Locy was immediately impressed by the ambition Pernell demonstrated when she sat in on Locy’s introduction to newswriting class and took out her laptop to follow along with the assignments for that day.
“I’ve never had a student do that, and it was fabulous,” Locy said. “It shows you who she is — she jumps right in, rolls her sleeves up, and tries to get in there and figure it out.”
On campus, Pernell serves as a university ambassador and interview fellow in the Office of Admissions, writes for the Ring Tum Phi, is a DJ for WLUR, served as a First Year Experience co-facilitator, and participated in the Young Ambassadors Program through the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst German Academic Exchange Service. Pernell is also highly involved in The Rockbridge Report, W&L’s student-run news outlet; she previously served as a beat reporter and anchor, and is currently a producer.
With the Fulbright award, Pernell will depart in September 2023 for her 10-month program. Upon completion of the program, she hopes to pursue a career in international business news.
The Fulbright Program was established more than 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Washington and Lee University is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2022-2023 Fulbright U.S. Students for the fifth consecutive year.
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