Alexa Corse has been chosen as the 2019 Daniel Pearl Memorial Journalism Intern. Corse is a senior majoring in political science. She has previously interned at The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau and covered sports for The Stanford Daily. She also is a competing member of the Stanford Equestrian Team.
A committee of Stanford Department of Communication faculty members evaluated applicants for the internship. The Wall Street Journal made the final decision.
The internship was established to commemorate the work and ideals of Pearl, a Stanford graduate and Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl, a 1985 graduate of the Department of Communication, was kidnapped in Karachi on Jan. 23, 2002, while working on a story retracing the steps of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. A month later, on Feb. 21, his captors released a videotape of his slaying. He was 38.
My grandmother moved in with us when I was 14, and she had a habit I’d never seen before: Every day, she read the newspaper cover to cover. Her example made me curious, and by the end of high school I developed an interest in journalism that has turned into my career goal.
I want to be a reporter because I’ve seen how journalism brings knowledge to those who couldn’t otherwise access it. I may be surrounded by high-achieving students at Stanford, but my grandmother—who didn’t go to college—is one of the smartest and most politically aware people I know. She learned from reading the newspaper. Because of her, I’m passionate about using journalism to decrease the distance between those who have power and those who don’t.
My grandmother died of lung cancer two months ago. At the time, I was a reporting intern in The Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau (and house sitting and dog sitting to earn my stay). I often made the hourlong train ride to my hometown, Baltimore, to see her. We listened to the news on the radio over the hum of her oxygen machine.
From our conversations, I recalled the stories I’ve written that made my grandmother proud: voter suppression attempts using social media; local effects of tough-on-crime policies; and Trump administration efforts to make it easier to ﬁre federal workers. These stories focus on how policies impact individuals regardless of political afﬁliation, and I worked hard to report them during two consecutive summer internships with The Journal.
I also thought about the reporting I’ve done on U.S. immigration enforcement. During one interview, an advocate told me she worried that some immigrants might not know their rights. Born in Kansas to European immigrant parents, my grandmother spoke mostly German at home. She learned English in elementary school—but what if she hadn’t? What if her parents hadn’t known about the school, or had assumed it wouldn’t welcome immigrants? Through my grandmother and my journalistic work, I understand that immigration policies have a real-life impact beyond Washington politics.
I’m still working to become the kind of journalist my grandmother would admire. This semester, I’m doing a reporting project investigating the future of diversity in Silicon Valley. The problem is well known. But what is my generation going to do? I’m interviewing female and minority computer science students about the tech industry’s culture and how they hope to change it. This project is about cultural barriers, and I think Daniel Pearl would’ve been interested in the questions it raises.
In different ways, Mr. Pearl and my grandmother modeled how to bridge cultural divides. I aspire to do so through journalism. While I’ve not yet had the opportunity to do journalism abroad like Mr. Pearl, with this internship I would pursue stories to help Americans (including me) better understand faraway places and the people who live there.