By Amy Brachmann
Columbia, Mo. (Oct. 6, 2010) — Radio-television journalism senior Alex Rozier recently was named the grand prize winner in the “Project: Report” contest sponsored by YouTube and the Pulitzer Center. He won a $10,000 grant for an international reporting project, which he used for travel to Guatemala in September. The contest was for “non-professional, aspiring journalists to tell stories that might not otherwise be told.”
Along with KOMU anchor/reporter Sarah Hill and KOMU photojournalist Scott Schaefer, Rozier spent five days in Guatemala covering a distribution of Personal Energy Transportation (PET) wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices. The trip coincided with the Central American Mobility Partnership conference and included tours, home visits and distributions.
While in Guatemala, Rozier, Hill and Schaefer produced a follow-up to Rozier’s winning second-round contest video, “The World Mobility Problem.” This video focused on the Columbia man whose faith inspired him to start the PET Project, which provides mobility to those in need. Rozier’s latest work will air as a half-hour special on KOMU and a documentary on YouTube.
“We spoke with people who hadn’t had mobility their whole lives,” Rozier said. “It was a really eye-opening, incredible experience.”
Rozier first heard about the contest through an e-mail from Kent Collins, chair of the radio-television journalism department. The contest was open to anyone who didn’t have a contract with a professional journalism outlet.
“When I got to thinking – Who could be more qualified than any of us at the Missouri School of Journalism? – I couldn’t think of anyone,” Rozier says. “Thank God I went with that mentality.”
His first video in the multi-step contest was “The Story of Amanda McDaniel,” which chronicled a Columbia teen facing bone cancer yet still cheering for her high school’s teams. “I’m so lucky to have met Amanda and feel extremely fortunate to have told her story,” Rozier says.
For the second-round of the contest, which prompted contestants to address issues under-covered by the national media, Rozier was inspired to cover the PET Project. He had frequently worked with the PET Project while working for KOMU, and he hopes to continue helping the Project’s efforts.
“I hope to make a positive change in the world. It’s really that simple,” he says. “I think we have a tremendous opportunity to bring attention to an issue so many people do not know about. If we can make a difference, even in the life of just one person, it will be so worth it.”
Prior to this trip, which he referred to as a “life-changing experience,” Rozier had little international travel experience. Now, he hopes the contest will launch him to the next step of his career.
“I think it really will open many doors for me. I’m confident that not many college students have an international documentary on their resumes at this point,” he said.
Updated: May 14, 2020