Madison Powers ’24, a Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow, traveled this summer to El Paso, Texas, to conduct extensive reporting on families seeking asylum on the United States-Mexico border.
Journalism major Madison Powers ’24 presented findings from her reporting assignment covering the migration crisis on the United States-Mexico border as part of a journalism panel in October at the Pulitzer Center’s national meeting in Washington, D.C.
Powers, who traveled to the border in May on a fellowship grant from the international journalism foundation, profiled families with children who were fleeing violence in their home countries and became stranded at the Texas border amid the worsening migration crisis. At the time of Powers’ visit, a Trump-era COVID-19 rule allowing the United States to summarily turn away migrants had just been lifted, resulting in a surge of people seeking asylum.
Aided by her minor in Spanish, Powers interviewed a series of immigrants including Maria José, a young Venezuelan mother stranded in El Paso with her sister and two small children. Powers said statistics do not convey how stressful and precarious immigrants’ lives are, even after being granted asylum.
“The biggest thing that I took away from her was this balance of fear and hope,” Powers told the audience of fellow grantees, journalists, and educators. “She talked about how her kids didn’t understand what they were going through. She was weary, and she didn’t know what her next steps were.”
The student journalists reported on an array of climate and human crises spanning the globe, from Chile to the Arctic, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Singapore. The three-day conference, held Oct. 13-15, included high-intensity journalism workshops, a visit to the National Press Club, and dinner with accomplished international reporters and editors.
“Not only did the Pulitzer Center give students a first-rate platform to present their work to some of the most decorated foreign correspondents we have,” said Lorraine Ahearn, assistant professor of journalism. “These seasoned veterans, in turn, got a good, hard look at the passion and energy our rising generation of journalists brings to critical issues around the world.”
Ahearn serves as Elon’s liaison to the Pulitzer’s Campus Consortium network, an educational initiative that supports, funds and mentors one Elon student each year to undertake an in-depth reporting project. Additionally, the school annually hosts a professional international journalist who is a Pulitzer grantee.
This spring the school is scheduled to host the Pulitzer Prize and Emmy-winning Canadian reporter Nadja Drost, who trekked the deadly migrant route across the Darien Gap, a notorious jungle between Colombia and Panama. Drost will visit Elon journalism classes with her documentary film partner, Bruno Federico.