COLLEGE PARK – A Silver Spring woman has been named one of the nation’s top 10 journalism students by the Scripps Howard Foundation.
Nora Achrati, 21, a rising senior at the University of Maryland, was named a winner of Scripps Howard’s Top Ten Scholarship program on June 10, earning her $10,000 toward next year’s tuition.
Accredited journalism schools across the country nominate their top student each year. Thomas Kunkel, dean of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, said the university nominated Achrati because she is “an outstanding student academically, a marvelous journalist-in-training and just an overall neat person.”
Award winners are chosen from a highly competitive applicant pool based on academic achievement and an interest in journalism. Selections are made by a committee of industry professionals.
Although now recognized as one of the most promising students in her field, Achrati did not always know she wanted to be a journalist. Believing at first that she wanted to be a doctor, Achrati attended Rice University in Houston as a premed major for her first year of college.
Achrati realized quickly, however, that she didn’t like premed and took on extracurricular work at the Rice Thresher, the school newspaper, because she “thought it looked like fun.” She worked as a copy editor and photographer at the Thresher because at first she was nervous about her writing skills.
Her mother, Rosemary Sokas, said Achrati had a love of words and writing beginning at a young age. When Achrati was in first grade, she kept a journal for class and one of her entries began with, “It was a dark and stormy night . . . . ”
“I thought that was so great,” Sokas said. “I will never forget it.”
After taking a semester off following her first year of college, Achrati realized what she missed most was her work at the Thresher, so she enrolled at the University of Maryland to pursue journalism.
And there is where she found her passion.
“I like knowing things and being able to tell people about them . . . and the sense of being really involved in wherever you are living,” Achrati said. “I just find it incredibly fulfilling.”
Achrati is currently working as a summer intern reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer. She also worked at The Sun in Baltimore and was a State House correspondent in Annapolis for the college’s Capital News Service public affairs reporting program.
Christopher Callahan, associate dean of Maryland’s College of Journalism, said Achrati’s innate love of the discipline is something you rarely see, and it is what makes her one of the best journalists in her age group.
“She is incredibly passionate about journalism, which is not something you can learn or teach,” he said.