RTDNF names inaugural Lee Thornton Scholarship winner

Merdie Nzanga, Howard University

Merdie Nzanga is a junior journalism major and international relations minor at Howard University from Seattle, WA.  She is an intern for NBC News this semester where she is gaining experience in research, writing, video editing, reporting and interviewing. She is fluent in French and aspires to be an international correspondent who sheds light on unreported stories from across the globe. In April she was awarded the White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship.

She is thrilled to be this year’s first time Lee Thornton Scholarship recipient. “Lee Thornton was a talented journalist and a force to be reckoned with. I’m honored to receive her scholarship and plan to follow her example as I begin to make my mark in our profession,” Nzanga said. 

Jennifer Swift, Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of D.C. Witness says of her former intern reporter, "Within a matter of days, Merdie proved herself as a hard-working journalist with ideas for coverage and news judgement that far exceeded that of her peers and inarguably some of the peers I've worked with in the news business."

See some of Merdie's work: Find Merdie on Twitter at @merdienzanga.

Lee Thornton was the first African-American woman to cover the White House for a major news network (CBS) and the first African-American host of All Things Considered on National Public Radio. She served as a faculty member at the Howard University School of Communications, earning a tenured position. Later in her career, she taught at the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism and served a term as the school's interim dean. She held a master’s degree from Michigan State University and a doctorate in mass communications from Northwestern University. Ms. Thornton passed away in 2013 at age 71, and endowed in her estate this scholarship in her name. Students from the University of Maryland and Howard University are given preference. The recipient of the Lee Thornton Scholarship receives $2,000 and an invitation to the Excellence in Journalism conference.

Meet all the 2017 RTDNF Scholarship & Fellowship winners.
Could you be the 2018 Thornton Scholar?           Do you want to make awards like this possible?