Image of Alysa Baltimore

2022 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year


2022 Gwen Ifill Student of the Year
Alysa Baltimore
Station Camp High School
Gallatin, Tennessee

When her AP English teacher let Alysa Baltimore and her classmates choose a book to read and report on, Baltimore saw it as an opportunity to learn more about an issue important to her — racial justice.

She chose Just Mercy, a nonfiction book about redemption and justice by Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which works to end mass incarceration. Stephanie Jones, Baltimore’s  teacher at Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tennessee, was not surprised that she chose such a serious and meaningful read.

“She is an intelligent young woman who is passionate about many issues, especially those concerning race,” said Jones, who nominated Baltimore as NLP’s Gwen Ifill Student of the Year.

Baltimore, a junior, will be honored as one of NLP’s News Literacy Change-Makers in a virtual event June 9 along with the Alan C. Miller Educator of the Year and the John S. Carroll Journalist of the Year. Register here to join the event.

To be considered for the award, students submit an essay demonstrating how becoming more news-literate has impacted their lives. Baltimore, 16, explained how she used newfound research and critical thinking skills to deepen her knowledge of mass incarceration in an effort  to make others aware of the issue.

“Finding adequate statistics and facts on mass incarceration might have been challenging if it weren’t for the skills that I developed from completing the Checkology® virtual classroom lessons,” she wrote in her award submission.

What she learned also has influenced her daily habits. “When you have so many people manipulating the truth, it becomes challenging to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. Checkology has changed the way I look at social media and news articles. Now I check the background before I share anything,” she said.

Baltimore also has become the person friends and family go to when they are unsure about the credibility of information they encounter. “I do think I have a responsibility to correct people,” she said of friends who seek her out, and her sister in particular. “If she’ll come to me with something that might not be accurate, I can help her find true information and help build her connection with what I’m passionate about,” she said.

Baltimore credits Checkology with helping to give her the insight to recognize a professional goal for her future, which is someday becoming a defense attorney. “On the surface, Checkology may be viewed as simple lessons on finding quality articles, but it ultimately led me to developing a passion for equality, equity and justice,” she said.

About Gwen Ifill

Ifill was a trailblazing journalist — and longtime NLP supporter and board member — who died in 2016. The award in her honor is presented to female students of color who represent the values she brought to journalism. Ifill was the first Black woman to host a national political talk show on television as moderator of Washington Week and was a member (with Judy Woodruff) of the first female co-anchor team of a network news broadcast on PBS NewsHour. 

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