Recent University of Montana School of Journalism graduate Lucy Tompkins will spend a year in Germany studying and reporting on the experiences of Syrian women who have become refugees in Berlin as part of a Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Program fellowship.
Tompkins currently works at the Missoulian as the K-12 reporter, and in September will begin her Fulbright fellowship in Berlin, where she’ll combine her interest in women’s and refugee issues.
“The J-School prepared me so well to pursue stories of global importance, and I’m so excited for the opportunity to put what I’ve learned to work,” Tompkins said.
Tompkins was born in Seattle and lived for three years in central Mexico before moving up to Wyoming and then Montana in middle school. Her parents live in Bozeman, which she considers her hometown. Lucy graduated in December and majored in anthropology and journalism. She worked for the student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, as a features and admin and finance reporter, following the progress of the University’s budget and enrollment issues. Her favorite school reporting projects include a series on addiction services for pregnant women in Montana, and the Native News project on health care on Montana Indian reservations. She also spent three weeks in Berlin for a summer trip through Montana Journalism Abroad reporting on the refugee crisis, where she wrote a story about atheist refugees in refugee camps.
For her Fulbright fellowship, she plans to investigate the path of Syrian Muslim women to Germany, asking “Does it offer a promise of liberation from patriarchal Islamists, an encounter with new variations of oppression and prejudice, an opportunity for self-actualization, or a challenging environment that combines all of this?”
In her proposal, she writes that her project will fill a gap in media coverage of the Syrian refugee issue, writing, “Since the refugee crisis of 2015, we have read little about what female refugees themselves think about their situation as Muslim women in a largely secular country like Germany. Often, they are traumatized by what they experienced during their flight. They tend to be the last in their families to learn German or socialize with the locals. If they continue to wear the traditional clothes of their native countries, they are likely to be marginalized by dominant feminist thought, which advocates secularism.”
Her work will involve doing in-depth interviews and photographing Syrian women. She will work with professionals who will mentor her in the research and writing of this project, and will finish the grant with an internship at a paper in Germany.
Tompkins also joined several Journalism School students in winning a Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Award this year. Tompkins won in the feature writing category for a piece she wrote for the Montana Kaimin on how Montana law fails to protect victims of so-called “revenge porn.”
Assistant Professor Joe Eaton also won a Fulbright grant this year. Eaton will teach journalists and professors at Tra Vinh University in Vietnam for a month this summer with his grant. Eaton joined the Journalism School’s faculty in the fall of 2013. He is a freelance writer for magazines and websites including National Geographic, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard and Wired. Eaton teaches courses in public affairs reporting, investigative reporting and editing. He is also leading students on a summer international reporting trip to Korea this summer through the Journalism School’s Montana Journalism Abroad program.