R.J. Vogt, a Haslam Scholar and senior in the College Scholars program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has won a Princeton in Asia fellowship that will allow him to spend at least a year working at a bilingual newspaper in the country of Myanmar.
Vogt, of Nashville, will leave in August to work at The Myanmar Times, a weekly newspaper that is transitioning to a daily. He'll be living in Yangon, the city formerly known as Rangoon.
The Princeton in Asia program, an independent, not-for-profit organization affiliated with Princeton University, was founded in 1898 and strives to promote goodwill, understanding and the exchange of ideas between East and West through immersive work experiences. The program sponsors more than 150 fellowships and internships in 20 countries.
Although he's still waiting to hear about his beat assignment, Vogt said he expects he'll be doing a lot of writing and a little photography for the paper's English-language version.
Vogt, who aspires to write—whether for newspapers or magazines or even a book—said he's pleased to get the opportunity to gain professional news reporting experience while experiencing life in a another country.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity for cultural immersion, and I've always been interested in Asia," he said, adding that a study abroad trip to Costa Rica during his sophomore year helped whet his appetite for foreign travel.
Myanmar, which is located between India and China and was formerly known as Burma, is at an exciting time in its history. After nearly 50 years as a military dictatorship, it is now transitioning toward democracy and improving its once-dismal human rights record. Its second general election is coming up soon. Economic sanctions against the country have eased and new businesses are beginning to establish themselves there. Technology is beginning to emerge.
Vogt said he learned about the Princeton in Asia program over the summer while interning at Esquire magazine in New York City. Thinking he might want to attend graduate school, Vogt reached out to students enrolled in New York University's graduate journalism program, and one of them told him about the program.
With assistance from UT's Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, Vogt completed the application process, which required him to submit a resume, a letter of recommendation, three 400-word essays, a 200-word writing assignment and a one-minute video. The ONSF staff also set up mock interviews for him.
Vogt, who is pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in advocacy journalism through the College Scholars program, recently presented his Haslam Scholar senior thesis, "The Advocacy Journalism of Ide B. Wells-Barnett," at the College of Communication and Information's Ida B. and Beyond Conference, which kicked off the 40th annual Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Southeast Colloquium, held at UT.
He has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, news editor and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beacon and now serves as the student newspaper's first training editor, overseeing students from the College of Communication and Information's entry-level reporting class who are working at the Beacon as part of the course requirement. He works as a science writing intern at the Joint Institute for Computational Science, a partnership between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Vogt also has been involved with Leadership Knoxville Scholars, Student Alumni Associates and the Saint John XXIII University Parish Catholic Center.
For more information about the Princeton in Asia fellowship program or other nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, UT students should contact Nichole Fazio-Veigel, director of the ONSF, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can also be found at http://onsf.utk.edu.