Kasonia Smith passion to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist has already begun to bear fruit.
Smith and John Drescher, a contributing editor, co-authored an article on police reform, titled Good Cop, Bad Cop, which was published in The Assembly on January 2 and then a few days later in The Washington Post.
The 21-year-old was an undergraduate journalism student at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), based at The University of the West Indies, Mona, whose studies were being funded by a track and field scholarship.
The Manchester native attended May Day High School for five years. She went on to Edwin Allen High School for a year to further her track and field career, and then to Manchester High School for her final year of secondary education.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Jamaica in 2020, the scholarship donors were no longer able to meet their obligations due to significant financial fallout.Her studies came to an abrupt stop after completing the first year.
“I felt as if my dream of becoming a journalist was shattered. CARIMAC was my dream school, and I had built relationships with my lecturers and my colleagues. I was at a crossroads. I had to borrow a student loan or find another way to finance my studies, but I knew I had to finish,” Smith recalled.
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A few of her track and field colleagues who had gone to the United States immediately after high school, inquired if she was interested in completing her studies abroad.
She indicated her interest and they connected her with a couple of coaches, who submitted the necessary paperwork.
“I was offered scholarships to three universities in the United States and I chose Shaw University in North Carolina, where I’m pursuing a degree in mass communications, with a minor in political science,” Smith said.
In August 2020, she relocated to the US and had her credits from CARIMAC transferred.
She has earned her place on the dean’s list with a 4.0 GPA and is set to graduate in 2023.Based on her academic performance and her interest in politics, Kasonia Smith was selected by the dean to partner with the digital media company.
It was also an ideal opportunity for her to better familiarise herself with the political system in the US and delve into research on police reform.
“I took four months to write that op-ed. I felt overwhelmed when it was published and looking back, it feels unreal that I lost my scholarship and because of that, I’m now here,” she said, adding that she has also been named an ambassador for The Assembly.
Smith is a hurdle and sprint athlete at the collegiate level, but admitted that she has not been able to train as rigorously as she did while in Jamaica.
She balances academics and athletics along with her role as vice-president of the student government association at Shaw University.
Smith hopes to work as an investigative journalist, then pursue a master’s degree in broadcast journalism.