Ailes Rising Apprentice Program Awards two $10,000 Scholarships
Two college students in the journalism field were awarded a $10,000 scholarship and a paid internship with Fox News on Oct. 27, as the chairman and chief executive officer of the company, Roger Ailes, presented an addition to his brainchild, The Ailes Apprentice Program.
The program, which offers year-long, paid apprenticeships to a select group of minority journalists, will now feature the Ailes Rising Apprentice Program. Luz Pena, a senior at Hofstra University, and Sakeeda Freeman, a senior at St. Augustine’s College, received the scholarship toward their education in addition to a paid summer internship with Fox News.
“[Pena and Freeman] are people who have proven themselves, but in a very small atmosphere,” Ailes said. “What we tried to do is get recognition to them. Our job is to give them exposure and give them opportunity.”
Many of the candidates coming into The Ailes Apprentice Program happened to be former interns, which gave Ailes the idea to reach back further to students still enrolled in college. Participants in Ailes’ long-running apprentice program have a full-time job with full benefits, as well as monthly meetings with a mentor and private lunches with the CEO. The “Rising” addendum to the program will give many of these same opportunities to journalist-hopefuls at the college level. In order to apply, one must be a junior or senior at one of Fox’s partner universities, be in good academic standing with a great resume and complete an essay for the application.
Pena and Freeman were introduced at a graduation ceremony for the current apprentices at the Oct. 27 event at Fox’s headquarters. Speakers included Ailes, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins and former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez. The graduating apprentices, along with Pena and Freeman, received words of wisdom and encouragement from the guest lecturers, in addition to praise from Fox Report anchor Shepard Smith, who has assisted with the program for many years.
“This program is about giving people a hand up, not a hand out,” Smith said to FNCU. “[It is] about recognizing excellence,trying to inspire and mentor, and giving these young people opportunities that will serve them and all of us for a lifetime.”
Smith added that the graduates have inspired him since 2003, the year that the program was created.
“It is a real honor to be around them,” he said.
Freeman, who will choose an internship in either Fox’s New York or D.C. offices for the summer of 2012, intends to work in production, a field in which she is heavily involved at St. Augustine’s. The college is a historically black school in Raleigh, N.C., with an approximate enrollment of 1,500 students.
“I am just so overwhelmed and super excited to be here,” she said. “Hopefully, I will come and use what I know and return having learned as much as I can. I love broadcast journalism.”
Katrina Dix, general manager of the television and radio station WAUG in Raleigh, had much to say about Freeman.
“[Freeman] is one of our brightest mass communication students,” she said. “We know that she is going to do us proud and this will be an opportunity for her to excel, in addition to share her skill set with those back at school, who might not have this particular opportunity.”
Peder Zane, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Augustine’s, agrees.
“Sakeeda will come back as someone that other students can point to and say, ‘Maybe I can do that!’,” he said. “I think the key thing that Roger Ailes talked about is the idea of access. Students need the opportunity to prove what they can do.”
Zane said getting a foot in the door is the main challenge in securing a position in the journalism field.
“Programs like this are essential—it is rewarding students who not only have talent, but who have worked hard,” he said. “This is one of the most exciting things that has happened to St. Augustine’s.”
Freeman’s co-recipient, Pena, heard about the Ailes Rising Apprentice Program from one of her deans at Hofstra.
“I believed in myself and here I am,” she said. “I will be graduating in May and beginning [my internship] right after.”
Pena will likely be working on the FNCU Web site.
“I hope she learns absolutely everything that she can and that she launches a great career from this opportunity,” Evan Cornog, dean of the Hofstra School of Communication, said of his student. “[Pena] is someone who wants every bit of knowledge that she can get.”
Ailes said he feels the young people in this new project will grow up to be future leaders.
“We have great confidence that they are going to succeed,” he said.
For additional information on the Ailes Apprentice Program, check out www.foxnews.com/ailesapprentice.