The liberal arts are meant to be a playground for exploration, in which students can find their passion across multiple disciplines and brainstorm creative solutions to world problems. Amy DiPierro ’15 has continued that exploration beyond Swarthmore, embracing her passion for journalism as an agent for change.
DiPierro has been named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University, where she will pursue a master’s degree in communications. She joins a cohort of only 75 scholars from a pool of more than 3,000 applicants. Each scholar was selected for their purposeful leadership, independent thought, and commitment to social justice.
In its second year, Knight-Hennessy Scholars is a graduate program that aims to provide student leaders with tools for enacting positive global transformation. In addition to covering full tuition and living expenses, the program offers leadership development workshops, mentorship from global leaders, and experiential learning opportunities that provide practice for developing solutions.
For DiPierro, it was this commitment to maintaining a global perspective while enacting change that inspired her to join the program.
“I applied to be a Knight-Hennessy Scholar because the program challenges students to look beyond narrow problems and to see how their work can advance the common good,” says DiPierro, who majored in economics and history at Swarthmore. “It’s an unapologetically idealistic mission. I couldn’t help but be inspired.”
Because the program recruits students from a wide range of backgrounds to address a diverse range of global issues, each scholar has their own passion and mission for establishing change. DiPierro was accepted for her commitment to using journalism as a form of agency.
“I think journalism can be an amazingly powerful force for social and political change,” she says. “So, how should I harness it? What should journalists like me cover, and how should we cover it? In the bigger picture, how can I support other journalists, especially people doing local public-accountability reporting?”
DiPierro’s dedication to journalism as a tool for advancing social justice is further exhibited in her actions. At Swarthmore, she was active with War News Radio (WNR), a student-run journalism project that aims to challenge traditional media coverage on war and politics by amplifying the voices of individual people. Upon graduation, DiPierro was named a Newman Civic Fellow for her work with WNR, as she trained students on how to actively listen to people’s stories and engage with difficult subjects in a healthy manner.
At Swarthmore, DiPierro also served as a writing associate and played varsity women’s soccer. Each of these experiences further shaped how she views the world and her mission within it.
“One of the essential habits I learned at Swarthmore was how to be self-conscious, in the best sense of the word,” DiPierro says. “I was taught at Swarthmore to reflect on what I was doing and why I was doing it. I think that this habit of reflection was helpful during the Knight-Hennessy Scholars application process, which asks candidates to consider how circumstances have shaped their lives.”
Since Swarthmore, DiPierro has remained committed to pursuing journalism as a source of change. She has served as a reporter for The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and for BusinessDen in Denver. After completing the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship program, DiPierro hopes to initiate change globally by continuing to work locally. Her goal is to return to the newsroom with the tools for rooting everyday stories in international issues.
“I really do think that local investigative journalism makes communities more just and equitable, but a lot of local newsrooms are shrinking,” DiPierro says. “So after I graduate, I’m hoping to go back to work as a local journalist. I also hope to become more active in cross-newsroom initiatives meant to strengthen local journalism.”