Pulitzer Center Connects WCC Students to Global Issues
WCC is the only community college that is a part of the Pulitzer Center Campus Consortium Network. This program brings the Pulitzer Center and colleges across the nation together to engage with students and faculty about current global issues.
The Pulitzer Center chooses students to be apart of student reporting fellowships. These fellowships give students a chance to pursue international reporting projects and every semester WCC hosts a Pulitzer Center presentation, featuring a reporter who has knowledge to share with students. Following the Spring semester presentation, WCC chooses one student to be apart of the Pulitzer Center Student Fellowship.
This semester, WCC welcomed Emily Kassie, an Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker, multimedia journalist, and creative director. Kassie focuses her work on international violence, conflict, human rights, and social injustices.
“I made my first documentary when I was 13 and it focused on gay teens in religious high schools,” Kassie said. “For me it always came from a place of social justice. It was about who are the people who are suffering most in my community and what can I do.”
Kassie directed and produced the documentary “I Married My Family’s Killer,” which focused on intermarriage in post-Genocide Rwanda. This film won the Academy Award for student documentary, among many other awards.
During her presentation at WCC, Kassie spoke to students about her experiences as a multimedia journalist.
After believing she wanted to pursue a career in acting, Kassie discovered her passion for multimedia journalism through film making.
“My skills were as a story-teller, my instincts were always to talk to people and tell their stories,” Kassie said. “That was always super fulfilling to me. I think there is a lot of intelligence, when you’re a victim of trauma, in being heard and telling your story.”
She began working at the Huffington Post where she expanded her knowledge and quickly seized opportunities for advancement.
With her knowledge of video usage, Kassie quickly climbed the ladder to becoming a freelancer and has landed projects with major news networks, such as the New York Times.
Kassie also showed her newest work in progress at the WCC presentation, which focused on “junkie hunters” in Florida. This project gave Kassie the chance to travel to Florida and meet with some of the addicts who were affected by the buying and selling of drug addicts in Delray Beach, Florida.
“I developed research skills over time in college and high school doing basic research,” Kassie said. “Doing really well-researched work gives you that foundation for investigative journalism.”
Kassie worked on a project for the New York Times called “Into The Deluge,” a mini-documentary focusing on Hurricane Harvey.
She travelled to Texas just hours after receiving a call from the New York Times.
Kassie spoke about her process when filming her documentaries. When it’s a more intimate meeting, she likes to keep as few people in the room as possible, usually limiting it to herself and one other person to take care of the interview shots. She does this in order to make her interviewees feel more comfortable with her.
The most important thing that Pulitzer presentations like Kassie’s can offer students is the words detailing the experience as a journalist.
“I always get nervous before the story because I never know if I’m gonna find the story or the people,” Kassie said, when asked if she ever got nervous before working on a story.
“A Girl Named C” is Kassie’s current work in progress. This film is produced by Kassie Films and focuses on a girl named C, a 13 year old girl who was raped in her elementary school by another student and was failed by the system. Kassie hopes that this film will help viewers understand what it means to be a victim.
Kassie has received recognition for many of her projects and has also won the 2017 Punch Sulzberger Award, which is sponsored by The New York Times, honoring excellence and innovation in the use of digital tools in journalism. Kassie received the award for reporting from the American Society of News Editors.