How Jazmin Goodwin Found Inspiration For WHCA Scholarship Essay

Jazmin Goodwin, a Howard student and broadcast journalism major, was only inspired to write a 250-word scholarship essay when she realized she was on a broken down, and empty Megabus. She was on her way back home to D.C. from New York. Looking out the window as the replacement bus left her stranded, she found herself struggling to get the bus doors open and alone with another passenger who happened to be an Egyptian activist involved in the 2011 Egyptian protests.

“I found out about the [WHCA] scholarship back in November of last year and had the hardest time figuring out what to write about for the essay,” Goodwin said. “That following month, I ended up stranded at a Megabus station in Wilmington, Delaware on my way back to DC from New York.”

Goodwin is one of three Howard students picked to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in the nation’s capital next month. The Megabus she had got on broke down and she and the Egyptian activist were advised that they could either wait inside or stay on the bus until the mechanic arrived, Goodwin told me via email, explaining how she got the opportunity to attend journalist’s version of the Super Bowl, featuring the president himself, and also Obama’s last White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

“I stayed on and ended up falling asleep,” she said. “I woke up to an empty bus, only to see the replacement Megabus driving off without me through the window.”

“After struggling to figure out how to open the bus doors to get off, I was confronted with questions by a Middle Eastern man on “what happened” and “what was I going to do.” I grew fearful of his curiosity, thinking he could be a possible threat. Soon after, I realized he was also a passenger that had been left behind. We both worked together to contact Megabus to find out our options for getting back to DC. On the ride back, I found out the passenger, Mina Wageh, was an Egyptian activist involved in the 2011 Egyptian protests.”

“He spoke on how he almost lost his life from a bullet wound to the head and my thoughts as a journalist on what’s currently going on in the Middle East,” she added.

“That coincidental experience was what inspired my entire WHCA essay, and what set me a part from the many other applicants who applied for the scholarship award. Being able to share his story in my essay and the good news with him once I received the award, has made this experience even more magical.”

Fun facts: Jazmin Goodwin was born in Landstruhl, Germany, and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. 

She currently is Campus Editor of the Hilltop newspaper and a 4.0 honors student in the School of Communications Annenberg Honors Program. 

How does it feel to be one of three students at Howard picked to attend the White House Correspondents dinner?

Honestly, it is such an overwhelming honor to have been chosen to attend the WHCA dinner. This opportunity was something I had been hoping for and dreaming of since high school, when I realized I wanted to be a journalist. I always had high hopes of one day being a White House Correspondent for a major media outlet, and being chosen for this opportunity furthers my conviction that I’m on the right path.

Talk about the selection process. When did you know you were selected as a White House Correspondents Association Scholarship recipient?

I found out on February 10th, in the most memorable way. It was via FaceTime with the Director of the Office of Career Development, I then later found out via email from the Dean of the School of Communications about myself and the other two finalists who were chosen. The selection process was highly competitive. It consisted of an application, resume, and 250 word essay on how the scholarship would help those chosen to shape the news agenda for America and the global community. Applicant’s essays and applications were then shared with esteemed faculty within the School of Communications for their review and final decision of the three recipients.

Why go HBCU, why Howard? What has your black college experience been like so far?

I chose an HBCU because I yearned for a space that was specifically created by African Americans for African Americans. I was drawn to Howard University’s sense of legacy, pride, and black culture. It’s refreshing and forces you to grow in ways that you couldn’t anywhere else. My black college experience thus far has been unique and compelling. There isn’t a day where I’m not inspired, driven, or motivated to push forward with a goal or vision I have. As a creative, it’s been life-changing to be surrounded by other creatives, intellects, and forward-thinkers. I’m forever grateful to have the opportunity to not only say that I attend an HBCU, but to call myself a Howard Bison.

What’s one thing you plan to do while attending the annual dinner?

Besides capturing as many pictures as I can with various celebrities and guests, one thing I plan to do while attending the dinner is to network and connect with A-list attendees in the field of journalism. I can only imagine how many of my biggest inspirations will be there. I’m looking forward to conversing with them and sharing a space of such high excellence with them.