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Communications

Master's Student Shares Her Passion for Powerful Storytelling

By Juliana Yellin

Photo of Nesima Aberra

Nesima Aberra is a master’s student in American University’s International Media program. She is also a current Dean’s Intern at VOX and a graduate assistant with the Center for Media and Social Impact. She is passionate about the power of storytelling to make positive social change. 

SOC: What sparked your interest in international media?

NA: love storytelling but I believe that we need to expand our boundaries of where stories are told, who tells them, and how. Studying international media allows me to look at the diverse ways media impacts our lives and shapes the way we understand people, ideas, and concepts through an interdisciplinary lens of communications and international affairs. 

SOC: How do you think international media can make an impact on the causes you care about?

NA: I’m particularly interested in peace building, human rights, gender, international development, social entrepreneurship, poverty alleviation and the arts. I think international media can make an impact on all these issues by challenging and creating media platforms and models to be more inclusive, sustainable and participatory. There are so many communities that are ignored or ideas that are not understood, so it’s our duty as journalists, writers, and media makers to get out and find those stories. We have the unique ability to change the way people think and feel and help make our society more informed and empowered to make the best decisions.

SOC: What new skills have you learned through your internship that translated to changes in the way you work? 

NA: Through my internship, I’ve learned about how to find a compelling character and human interest angle out of bigger, more complex news events. I’ve upped my interview and research skills as well as gotten more practice with transcription.. I used to hate coming up with headlines and subheads but VOX has an awesome guide on how to do that and focus group process that has made me think more creatively. I’m honestly just really in awe of how smart the Vox team is, their authentic voice, values and quality of the work they put out.

SOC: How has your internship shaped the path of your career?

NA: Before graduate school, I was doing nonprofit communications and fundraising, but really felt called to return to journalism. I knew I wasn’t interested in traditional breaking news, but rather in-depth, feature type writing. Interning in the First Person section with VOX has made me much more excited about the possibility of using narrative nonfiction and literary journalism as a means to explore the issues of marginalized communities and social impact that fascinate me. 

SOC: How has your internship changed your perspective of your field?

NA: This internship has definitely made me more hopeful about the field of journalism after seeing the innovative, thoughtful and relevant stories that are being produced with companies like VOX. International media is a rather abstract term so I’d say my field is really that of storytelling and I think there are a lot more opportunities out there to create something that matters, if you’re willing to work hard, be curious, and embrace your uniqueness. 

More on AU SOC's International Media MA and Dean's Internships.