A young brilliant Nigerian Adesola Ikulajolu has made history as he becomes the second Nigerian to make the Dart Center Fellowship.
Ikulajolu, a graduate of the Department of Mass Communication, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Ondo State was selected for the 2023 Early Childhood Reporting Fellowship programme.
His feat comes six years after Chikezie Omeje of the International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) became the first Nigerian journalist ever to be selected for the fellowship in 2017.
Early Childhood Reporting Fellowship was organised by the Dart Center training programme of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Sponsored by the Bernard van Leer Foundation (Netherlands), the Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation (Brazil), and The Two Lilies Fund (United States), 36 fellows were selected for the Dart Center’s 2023 Fellowships, 15 persons for the Global Fellows, 15 for the Brazil Fellows, and six individuals for the Latin America Fellows.
Ikulajolu will join his fellows to undertake projects under eight Faculty, on the effects of war, disaster, inequality, and poverty on young children’s growth and development, as well as the well-being of their caregivers spanning from across the globe.
According to the Executive Director, Bruce Shapiro, the fellows’ stories would address, “the effects of war and displacement on refugee children from Ukraine, lack of sanitation on children in the Brazilian Amazon, water pollution on pregnant women in Kenya, pesticide use on young children in Brazil, psychological effects on children and caregivers resulting from the conflict in Kashmir, challenges facing young children with disabilities in Malawi and the effects of foster care and adoption on children in the U.S.”
Speaking with EDUGIST, Ikulajolu said he saw the call to apply but ignored it because it was focusing on children, saying he had always been careful and skeptical about reporting on children.
“I bookmarked it, and later on, a senior colleague sent me the same link again,” he added.
Ikulajolu stated that he rolled on the bed — then danced for one hour when the congratulatory mail came.
“After that, I went to read the entire mail, I still couldn’t comprehend so I had to go search for the fellowship and I saw the funding and the opportunities in it; I was excited. It is life-changing for my career. Even as I am still running other national fellowships, I accepted it with joy being a global opportunity.”
Ikulajolu noted that being the youngest on the list gave him energy so Dart Center will continue to focus on Nigerian journalists for years to come.
He advised young journalists seeking such opportunities to always embrace research and focus on delivering quality projects rather than being carried away with funds.
“To every young journalist seeking such opportunity, put in the work; read other people’s work and carve out pitches that are worth funding. Do background work before you apply, don’t be carried away by the funding but by the quality of the projects you want to deliver.
“It is life-changing for my career. When the congratulatory mail came, I still couldn’t comprehend so I had to go search for the fellowship and I saw the funding and the opportunities in it. I was excited.”