Diverse journalism and communications students from universities and colleges around America came to Detroit last week to test their chops courtesy of General Motors to learn auto reporting in the most competitive environment of them all: the North American International Auto Show.

General Motors launched its second annual Discover Your Drive diversity journalism program Jan. 7-11, hosting 13 college students and nine professional journalists as mentors from across the country at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Students from diverse backgrounds participated in the program that promoted diversity in automotive journalism and news coverage.

“We were blown away by the talent and creativity of these fearless students,” says Leslie Gordon, senior manager, GM Diversity Communications. “Many of them had not been exposed to automotive journalism, had never been to Detroit or seen snow. But they brought with them the right amount of curiosity required to cover an event as massive and complex as the North American International Auto Show and they did so with grit and class.”

Discover Your Drive is the second annual boot camp for student journalists coordinated by Gordon and assisted by Margarita Bauza, a bilingual member of GM’s diversity communications team and former Detroit News reporter. GM selected and paid transportation and lodging costs for 13 college students from 11 schools and some of the 9 professional journalists who served as mentors.

Discover Your Drive concluded with an awards presentation recognizing students for their work at NAIAS as well as their social media presence during a scavenger hunt throughout Detroit. Students used the new, award-winning all-electric Bolt EV, named 2017’s NAIAS Car of Year and OnStar technology to find their way around the city.

One student showed that drive by chasing down a face-to-face interview with GM President and CEO Mary Barra on the auto show floor. Another coaxed GM North America President Alan Batey into a video that won the program’s top prize: an all-expense paid trip to a national journalism conference.

Students Rushawn Walters and Nia Muhammad, both of Howard University, and Sarah Rahal, of Wayne State University, snatched that prize with ‘Jammin’ with GM,” a story told through carpool karaoke, focusing on the all-new Chevrolet Cruze and technologies such as Apple Car Play, Android Auto, Teen Driver, Rear Seat Reminder and the car’s fuel economy.
“As an aspiring student journalist from Detroit, getting the opportunity to learn more about what’s in my backyard was a priceless gift,” said Rahal, one of the contest winners.

“This program gave me a network of people that are proficient in the industry and the knowledge to use it in the field. Discover Your Drive allowed me to believe that automotive news is a possibility for my future.”