Taking it to the streets: Active Voice fellows in the community

Across the country, students are learning new podcasting, blogging and broadcasting skills — and the laws that may or may not fully protect their right to publish what they want — in training workshops designed by the inaugural class of SPLC Active Voice fellows.

At SXSWEdu in Austin, UT-Austin fellow Nashwa Bawab previewed some of the 16 podcast segments created by students in her training workshop at Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.

Students recorded mini-profiles of band members, favorite coaches — and of a student who said her inspiration comes from her parents’ sacrifice in emigrating from Latin America and leaving their lives behind: “I want to have an impact on people. I want people to know they’re not alone. I want people to know I’m there for them. And I also want to do something with charity.”

Howard University’s Darlene Aderoju used a session at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to debut an interactive cellphone quiz that puts students through common schoolday scenarios where their rights to free speech, due process and other fundamental freedoms might be tested.


In the game, students answer multiple-choice questions to master the D.C. Student Bill of Rights. It’s one of the nation’s most comprehensive student-rights codes, protecting not just freedom of expression but a wide range of rights — but it’s not widely publicized to students. (Every student left with a take-home copy of the code, to help spread the word that student rights really do exist.)

At the Associated Collegiate Press spring convention in San Francisco, a roomful of college journalists from around the country heard from UC-Berkeley’s Sindhu Ravuri about the barriers — both self-imposed and institutionally imposed — that intimidate young women from pursuing careers in the tech field. She said the project didn’t just open the eyes of the teens she mentored in her community — it changed her outlook as well.

“I lost all shame, to put it basically. I became extremely fierce. When you are looking into the eyes of high school girls every day and telling them they need to be leaders, you will soon embody that. You internalize that.”

Sindhu Ravuri presents a session, “Activating Women’s Voices,” at the Associated Collegiate Press national convention in San Francisco. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Ravuri is building a website to host her interviews with inspirational women in law, technology and journalism, including White House technology guru and media lawyer Cori Zarek and Washington Post medical reporter Carolyn Johnson.

These and other student-designed projects incubated over the past year as part of the Active Voice program will be on display April 20 at Florida International University’s annual conference, “Women in Communication: Breaking the Barriers,” organized by the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communications. The conference is free to attend and anyone with an interest in advancing the status of women in media fields is invited to participate.