Kicking off my career with the Amnesty Student Media Award

In 2013 I entered and won the Amnesty International Student Human Rights Reporter Competition, organised by Amnesty International UK in partnership with NUS, the Observer and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Being a part of the competition was a wonderful experience and I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in journalism and human rights to apply, regardless of how much experience they have.

The article I wrote on forced marriage in the UK was only one of a handful I had written whilst at university; but, as the subject of my Masters research, it was something I’d been thinking about for a while.

I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing the article and never expected to be short-listed for the award, let alone announced as winner at the Media Awards in London. It was truly an honour to be a part of such an important and enjoyable event.

After the ceremony, I undertook a student reporting fellowship at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington DC. The fellowship was the main prize of the Amnesty award and involved a $2,000 travel grant.

After much deliberation, and following my interest in gender, labour, and human rights, I decided to go to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I researched and wrote about sex workers’ rights ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Exploring Rio and engaging with journalists, academics and activists over a five-week period was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life; moreover, being able to write for major media outlets such as Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Huffington Post, and the Guardian as an Amnesty award-winner and Pulitzer student fellow enabled me to launch my writing career.

I am sincerely grateful to Amnesty International UK, NUS, the Observer and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Written by Lauren Wilks – Amnesty Student Journalist Media Award Winner 2013 and PhD student

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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