Cammie Behnke ’19 selected for Pulitzer Center Student Fellowship
The senior journalism major will spend 12 days examining the evolution of women in post-genocide Rwanda.
By Sophia Ortiz '21
Journalism major Cammie Behnke ’19 is set to embark on a 12-day reporting trip to Rwanda, one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, thanks to her selection for the Pulitzer Center Student Fellowship.
“I’m going to be reporting on how the role of Rwandan women has changed 25 years after the country’s genocide, and I’ll be looking at those roles through an agriculture and business lens,” she said of her Pulitzer Center-funded investigation.
During her nearly two weeks abroad, Behnke plans to speak to women business owners and community leaders about Rwanda’s struggling economy during the past two decades. She looks forward to telling the underreported stories of women still experiencing “lingering effects from the genocide,” she added.
Elon University is one of the Pulitzer Center’s more than 30 Campus Consortium partners, an educational initiative that brings Pulitzer Center staff and journalists to Elon’s campus twice a year. With Elon’s membership in the consortium, students – like Behnke – have the opportunity to work with the center on developing international reporting projects, which have been featured on the center’s website and can be disseminated through media partners.
Past Elon students who have participated in the student fellowship initiative have investigated topics such as the Catholic Church’s future in Ireland, the internet’s impact on a rural Guatemalan town, and the de-radicalization in London prisons.
Behnke said this experience will help shape her post-graduation goals, especially because of her interest in international reporting.
“It’s opportunities like these that make me even more grateful for the School of Communications, and just makes me realize how exceptional it is,” Behnke said. “I had planned to study abroad at least once, but I never imagined I'd go five times while at Elon.”
School of Communications faculty members played an influential role in Behnke’s application process, providing support and guidance. Behnke singled out Assistant Professor Alex Luchsinger, Lecturer Kelly Furnas and Associate Dean Kenn Gaither for their collective mentorship.
“They are here for my success, and even if I have any concerns or really anything, they are willing to sit down with me and encourage me in that process, which has been really great,” she said.
Behnke has an extensive reporting background as a reporter for Elon News Network and Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center, which took her to Paris for the 13th annual Internet Governance Forum in November. She has also completed two internships, with stops at WECT in Wilmington and, most recently, at the “NBC Nightly News” Washington D.C. Bureau.
Through her Pulitzer Center Student Fellowship, Behnke aims to positively impact the women and people she encounters in Rwanda.
“I sometimes have joked that this is a little bit too bold, but I think it is going to be worth it,” she said. “All I really want to do is tell their stories.”