J-School senior Audrey Thibert recently received an Overseas Press Club Foundation Scholar Award for her dedication to international reporting. This award is given to young journalists to gain experience in overseas reporting and will provide funding to allow her to pursue an international reporting project in the coming months.
“I think going into international reporting can be really difficult. The OPC continues to fund and encourage young reporters in a time when it’s a little bit more difficult. I was overwhelmed with joy when I won,” Thibert said.
Thibert is studying reporting and anthropology, with a certificate in Middle East Studies. Drawing inspiration from journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped and killed by ISIS in 2014, Thibert took to his person-first reporting style and knew she wanted to be an international reporter when she met him at only 9 years old.
“His style always stuck with me, you know, telling the story of the average person affected by bigger issues. That’s always something I keep in mind,” Thibert said.
While on campus at UW–Madison, Thibert has written for the Badger Herald for almost four years, serving as the Managing Editor during the 2022-2023 school year. Thibert has also written for the Isthmus, an independent news source based in Madison. In addition, Thibert was a fellow at the Center for Journalism Ethics.
One of her most formative experiences, however, was as a Reporting Fellow for the Pulitzer Center University of Wisconsin Campus Consortium. Fellows are provided with $5,000 in funding to pursue an international reporting project. Thibert was inspired by the TA for her Arabic class, who is from Tunisia. She encouraged Thibert to pursue a migration story, and Thibert spent August of last summer in Bizerte, Tunisia.
“From that experience, I learned that migration is a really interesting topic that affects everyone,” Thibert said. “Going forward, I think in international reporting that is going to be a really big focus for my career.”
While completing the fellowship, Thibert learned about the Overseas Press Club Foundation, an organization committed to promoting the success of international correspondents. Come Fall 2023, she was taking International Reporting with Jacob Kushner, UW alum, adjunct instructor and well-regarded international reporter.
“Audrey and her fellow classmates worked incredibly hard to report urgent stories and conduct interviews with people all over the world–all from the basement of Vilas. It shows how with a worldly mindset, and with hard work, SJMC students like Audrey can position themselves to become true global citizens.”
Getting to this point was no easy feat, but Thibert is grateful to have had so much support around her.
“The faculty at the J-School has been extremely encouraging. Everyone has been willing to connect me with someone they know or give me a push in the right direction,” Thibert said.
With the coveted OPC Foundation Scholar Award, Thibert hopes to return to the Middle East and North Africa region to continue reporting the stories of people on the ground. Her journey, marked by passion, is a testament to the thriving spirit of the J-School.