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June 8, 2021

The Undefeated Names the Fifth Class of Rhoden Fellows - Developing New Voices for Future Sports Journalists of Color

The Undefeated today announced the six students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who will participate in the fifth class of the Rhoden Fellowship – a one-year sports journalism internship program by The Undefeated that identifies and trains aspiring African American journalists. The 2021-2022 Rhoden Fellowship class will begin Monday, June 7, and conclude at the end of the 2021-2022 academic year.

A panel of senior editors at The Undefeated and award-winning sports columnist William C. Rhoden selected the Fellows from a pool of outstanding applicants from HBCUs across the country. The fifth class represents future journalists of color from five Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla., Hampton University, Hampton, Va., Howard University in Washington, D.C., Morgan State University, Baltimore, Md., and North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C.

Raina Kelley, vice president and editor-in-chief, The Undefeated: “Congratulations and a big welcome to the fifth anniversary class of Rhoden Fellows. You represent our effort at The Undefeated to nurture diverse voices in journalism. Be bold. Not conventional. Never boring.”

William C. “Bill” Rhoden, The Undefeated columnist and head of the Rhoden Fellowship: “My deepest appreciation to the Undefeated and ESPN for their unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion in journalism through their investment to the Fellowship. Previous Fellows are already making their marks in journalism. We welcome the fifth class of talented Fellows and are excited to see the footprints they will leave.”

About the Rhoden Fellowship:

The Rhoden Fellowship is a one-year program founded by former New York Times award-winning sports columnist William C. “Bill” Rhoden, who joined ESPN’s The Undefeated in October 2016 to run the fellowship program and serve as a columnist and writer-at-large. The fellowship – established as part of The Undefeated’s mission to develop new voices and serve as an incubator for future sports journalists of color – is open to outstanding students at HBCUs.

The Fellows work as student correspondents during the academic year, covering and reporting sports, as well as general news, at their respective universities for The Undefeated’s HBCU vertical. They also create recurring multimedia content; host and produce podcasts addressing resonant issues and topics affecting young people.

The 2021-2022 Rhoden Fellows:

Keion Cage – Hampton University

Keion Cage, a native of Houston, Texas, is a strategic communications student with a minor in leadership studies. He currently serves as the associate editor for The Hampton Script, a student-run newspaper. Cage has written for SLAM Magazine and VYPE Media – a regional high school and youth sports platform.

Alexis Davis – North Carolina A&T State University

Alexis Davis is a senior multimedia journal journalism student from Prince George’s County, Md. She is a sports and culture contributor for The A&T Register, the campus newspaper at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.

Sarah Jones-Smith – Howard University

A senior broadcast journalism major from Orange County, Calif., Sarah Jones-Smith writes for The Hilltop, Howard University’s student newspaper, and her writing has been published by The Los Angeles Wave, and more.

Kianah Robinson-Chery – Hampton University

Kianah Robinson-Chery, a senior journalism major and cinema studies minor, worked for a year in videography and photography for the Hampton University band’s media team.

Cayla Sweazie – Morgan State University

Cayla Sweazie, a senior multimedia journalism student and student-athlete with Morgan State’s softball team, is from Ashburn, Va. She is a contributing writer for The Spokesman, Morgan State’s student newspaper, and is on the masthead of the digital Unapologetic & Pure Magazine, a site by young journalists for young readers.

Calvin Sykes – Florida A&M University

Calvin Sykes is a graduate student in sports science at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, Fla. A native of Miami, Sykes was the sideline reporter for the Florida A&M Rattlers football from 2018-2020, program director for the school’s radio station WANM FM 90.5, and has written for HBCU GameDay.

The Undefeated is ESPN’s multiplatform content initiative exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture. The digital hub, TheUndefeated.com, which launched in May 2016, combines innovative long-form and short-form storytelling, investigation, original reporting and provocative commentary to enlighten and entertain African Americans and sports fans seeking a deeper understanding of black athletes, culture and related issues.

In addition to its cutting-edge content, The Undefeated seeks to be a thought-leader on race, sports and culture in the country – convening insightful forums to discuss and debate topical issues affecting sports and race in America.



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