National Press Club awards Komlavi Adissem the first Lewis Scholarship for Spring 2023

Komlavi Adissem is a student at the University of Missouri

The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, has chosen Komlavi Adissem of St. Louis, Missouri, as the inaugural recipient of its Lewis Scholarship. The scholarship provides free housing and a monthly stipend to support student journalists of color who are interning at news media outlets in Washington, D.C. 

Adissem has accepted a Spring 2023 internship with Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC. A student at the University of Missouri, he impressed the judges with his work at the Columbia Missourian, where he covers city government. 

“Growing up as both biracial and queer, I never really got much chance to see myself reflected in entertainment media nor news media, both on the screen and behind the scenes,” Adissem wrote in his application essay. “On the rare occasion I did see some form of representation, it often leaned heavily on negative stereotypes. 

“Through my work at the Columbia Missourian, I have actively tried to seek out voices and perspectives from communities that are overlooked and overshadowed, as their stories are just as worth telling as everyone else’s,” he wrote.

Recommendation letters from his professors praised his passion for political reporting, keen news judgment, and work ethic. 

“What sets Komlavi apart here is his thoughtfulness about stories. He maps them out with what I think of as maturity and heart,” said Elizabeth Brixey, an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and editor of The Columbia Missourian. “All along the reporting journey, he seeks to make human connections with people and strives to represent them fairly and in a way that humanizes them.”

After graduation, Adissem plans to attend law school and become a legal and policy analyst for a news outlet. 

“Part of that work involves being honest about how the decisions our leaders make impact all of us, especially those at the margins,” Adissem wrote in his application essay. “I want journalism to reflect the vibrancy and variety of our nation, and I will do my part as a journalist to make this ideal become a reality.”

The Lewis Scholarship was established in April this year by the family of former Washington correspondent Robert “Bob” D.G. Lewis. It will be awarded to one undergraduate student journalist of color each fall, spring, and summer semester. Students must secure a journalism internship in Washington, D.C., to be eligible, along with other requirements

The program furthers Bob and Jacqueline Lewis’s work to improve accessibility to experiential learning opportunities in the nation’s capital for students of color. This partnership, administered through the National Press Club Journalism Institute, will extend the Lewis’ commitment to increasing representation in Washington, D.C., to include news media, adding to their work founding and operating the Washington Intern Student Housing program and the HBCU National Center. The scholarship has an estimated value of $10,000 per semester.

“We applaud Komlavi’s commitment to world-class storytelling that features the perspectives of  underrepresented people and communities,” said Jen Judson, National Press Club president. “He has a bright future ahead in journalism and we are pleased to support him on his journey to Washington, D.C.”

National Press Club scholarships are administered by its nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute. Applications for 2023 scholarships are open. They include:

  • The Scholarship for Journalism Diversity Honoring Julie Schoo (high school seniors)
  • The Richard G. Zimmerman Scholarship (high school seniors)
  • The Wes Vernon Broadcast Scholarship (all student journalists)
  • The Dennis and Shirley Feldman Fellowship (graduate students)

The Summer 2023 Lewis Scholarship application will open in January 2023. 
For more information or to donate to National Press Club scholarships, contact NPC Journalism Institute executive director Beth Francesco.


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