Prize-winner Amel goes to Washington

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AMEL GUETTATFI’s final degree project saw her travel to France to hear the harrowing stories of Syrian refugees living in a makeshift camp. In 2014, she left Coventry University with a first class degree in Journalism and three awards, including the prize for the university’s top international student. She was also a member of the third-year team that won the Broadcast Journalism Training Council’s top student prize, for multi-media work on the school’s iCov website. In January 2015 she enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington DC – a short bus ride from The White House. Here, she looks back at her time in Coventry.

On Journalism

Amel directs in the TV gallery at Coventry

Amel directs in the TV gallery at Coventry

I love journalism and my time as an undergraduate has only strengthened my desire for a career in journalism: a field where you can advocate for people as well as play role in creating an informed citizenry. Also, there’s nothing more invigorating than the five-second countdown before going on air!

I started off in a completely different field, in medicine. It took me a while to realise it was in every way the wrong path for me. Once I did, I knew I wanted journalism.

On Coventry

During my undergraduate course, I was fortunate enough to work on various stories on different platforms. We covered a lot of different issues, like homelessness and caste-based discrimination locally. I was surrounded by supportive lecturers who guided me through my undergraduate experience and helped me channel my passion for the field in the right places.

On Calais

Amel found refugees in makeshift tents

Amel found refugees in makeshift tents

When it came to my final year, I wanted to work on something that went beyond our locale. Refugees have become the greatest collateral damage of the war in Syrian. I was intrigued by their plight and concerned that their journeys from the Middle East to Europe, often tumultuous and even fatal, were rarely given ample coverage in mainstream media.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how to pursue this topic, given the complex logistics of filming in a makeshift camp on the northern border of France. But my lecturer and adviser, Shelly Stevenson, went above and beyond to ensure that I went after the project. Even when I was struggling to find vision, she was there. I had so many great experiences at Coventry but this is by far the most defining period of my time there.

On Georgetown University

I am now in a Masters program at Georgetown University in Washington DC. I want to focus on journalism tailored to my interests in foreign policy and Middle East and North African affairs.

The atmosphere is definitely energetic: everyone is in the pursuit of something in the capital of the United States. 

Read Amel’s Calais report for The Huffington Post
Watch her documentary, Displaced

Simon Pipe is a former print and BBC journalist, now a member of the Journalism teaching team at Coventry University. He also runs an experimental website, St Helena Online, about one of the world's most remote inhabited islands, at On Twitter, when he has something to say, he is @simonpipe

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