September 7, 2007
Emily Hellewell, NPR


Students from Fort Worth, TX; Berkeley, CA; and Richmond, VA
Chosen for Prestigious Training Program

September 7, 2007; Washington, D.C. – Three recent graduates with degrees from The University of Texas at Austin, New York University, Brown University, the University of Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism have joined NPR News as the 2007-2008 Joan B. Kroc Fellows.

The Kroc Fellowship, which is now in its third year, identifies three graduates each year and trains them in a specially designed yearlong intensive program at NPR and NPR Member stations. The program, made possible through the 2003 bequest from the philanthropist and widow of McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray A. Kroc, is dedicated to identifying and training the next generation of public radio journalists and continuing public radio’s commitment to public service. This year’s Fellows were chosen from a record 340 applicants, coming from 10 countries, 41 states and the District of Columbia. They are:

Shomial Ahmad of Fort Worth, TX, and a graduate of The University of Texas and New York University. Her experience includes internships at Newsday and the Fort Worth Weekly

Jenny Gold, a Berkeley, CA, native and Brown graduate, was awarded two research grants for a radio documentary she produced and has worked at CBS News

Bilal Qureshi, of Mechanicsville, a suburb of Richmond, VA, and a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, worked for The Atlantic Monthly and contributed to the Daily Times, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan

Each Fellow will work alongside NPR News broadcast and digital media reporters, producers and editors to develop production and editorial skills. They will be involved in such contemporary journalism activities as reporting, on-air experience, writing for the Internet and multimedia production. Additionally, each Fellow will work at an NPR Member station to explore journalism at a local level.

Last year’s Fellows made contributions during each of their rotations. Some of their work includes a Weekend Edition Saturday piece on the 400-year anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown; a video report of Arizona’s 13-year drought posted on the website of KJZZ Phoenix and an analysis of the best (and worst) Valentine’s Day chocolates on

Previous Kroc Fellows have gone on to full-time positions at NPR and in public radio. Melody Joy Kramer, a 2006-2007 Fellow, was recently hired as an associate producer and director of the NPR news quiz show, Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! Thomas Pierce, also a 2006-2007 Fellow, is currently a production assistant on Weekend Edition Saturday. Douglas Hopper, a 2005-2006 Fellow, is now an editorial assistant for NPR’s new daily talk show Tell Me More, hosted by Michel Martin. Roseanne Pereira, a 2005-2006 Fellow, is currently completing a reporting fellowship.

Information about the Kroc Fellowship and the application requirements for the 2008-2009 program is available at

The 2007-2008 Kroc Fellows:

Shomial Ahmad grew up in Fort Worth, TX, attended The University of Texas at Austin on a National Merit Scholarship and earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism at New York University. Ahmad was an intern at the Fort Worth Weekly and at Newsday, where her piece “Prayers for the Middle East” appeared as a cover story in Newsday’s Sunday “Life” section, and her piece “Sunnis and Shiites, A Street Apart” was published in The New York Times. In addition to basic knowledge of Arabic, Ahmad speaks Urdu and Hindi.

Jenny Gold is from Berkeley, CA, and earned a B.A. in History at Brown University. While there, she worked as a journalist and anchor at the college station, WBRU. She received two Brown research grants for a radio documentary about race and religion in Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In 2004, she volunteered for Mexfam – a Mexican affiliate of Planned Parenthood. Most recently, Gold worked in the medical unit at the CBS Evening News – conducting interviews, doing research and story development, writing drafts of scripts and aiding in the editing process.

Bilal Qureshi came to Mechanicsville, VA, with his family in 1993 from Islamabad, Pakistan. Qureshi has a double major from the University of Virginia in Political and Social Thought and Asian Studies. He recently earned his Master’s Degree at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, culminating in a multimedia reporting project on New York's Muslim community. Qureshi has worked for The Atlantic Monthly and contributed a commentary to NPR and the Daily Times, an English-language newspaper in Lahore, Pakistan. He is fluent in Urdu and Hindi and proficient in Spanish.