PVAMU’S JONES EARNS RHODEN FELLOWSHIP WITH ESPN’S THE UNDEFEATED
PRAIRIE VIEW –For as long as she can remember, Jayla Jones has wanted to be a writer. This week, she becomes one of six journalism and communications students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) across the country to participate in the Rhoden Fellowship — a one-year sports journalism internship with ESPN’s The Undefeated that identifies and trains aspiring Black journalists.
Jones, a senior business management major from Chicago, is a regular contributor to the Prairie View A&M Sports Information Department as well as The Panther student newspaper.
“Working alongside professionals whose resumes are so extensive means a lot to me,” Jones said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from them, as well as five of my peers, who are some of the best HBCU sports journalists out there.”
Jones will work as a stringer during the academic year, covering and reporting on Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) sports and general news for The Undefeated’s HBCU vertical. She will also create and produce weekly multimedia content, and host and produce podcasts addressing resonant issues and topics affecting young people.
Funded by the ESPN, the Rhoden Fellowship was established as part of The Undefeated’s mission to develop new voices and serve as an incubator for future Black sports journalists. It was founded by former New York Times award-winning sports columnist William C. Rhoden, who also serves as columnist and editor-at-large.
“I wrote features, opinions, and editorials for my high school paper and made the switch to sports writing when I got to UTA [the University of Texas at Arlington]. I continued when I got to PVAMU at the start of my sophomore year,” she said. “I come from a family of athletes and grew up playing sports myself, so that made the transition feel easy and natural.
“Both experiences have allowed me to improve an array of skills — from writing and interviewing to time management and problem solving, all of which are integral to being successful in the journalism field. I’ve been fortunate to cover a handful of sports and work with various athletes around campus, which is always a positive and valuable learning experience for me.”
Jones is looking forward to gaining even more journalism skills and experiences through the Rhoden Fellowship.
“Covering a wide range of topics, gaining a mentor, and being introduced to so many other parts of the journalism world really excites me,” she said. “I’ll be working with new-to-me mediums, such as podcasts, audio, and video.”
While Jones has a passion for sports journalism, she also plans to serve as an advocate for athletes.
“I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of people like Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, or NBPA,” she said. “I want to work on behalf of athletes, amplify their voices, and help protect their rights, while simultaneously telling their stories. I’m hoping this fellowship will set me up to continue pursuing that goal.”
Jones is eager to gain new experiences and skills from the fellowship.
“I know not everyone gets an opportunity like this, so I’m definitely using this time to improve and expand my skill set,” she said. “I’m looking forward to reaching my full potential as a writer and building lasting relationships within the journalism field.”