Featured Alumna: Delece Smith-Barrow '02
by Lucy Gilak ’16
Ms. Delece Smith-Barrow, Holy Child Class of 2002, is a successful figure in the world of journalism and is currently the High Education Editor for U.S. News and World Report. Prior to this position, she worked for The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine, and various other publications and news organizations.
After graduating from Holy Child, Delece attended the University of Maryland at College Park, graduating in 2006 with a Journalism major and Spanish minor. She then travelled to Australia for a brief journalism fellowship before beginning her work as a web producer for The Washington Post. Throughout her seven years with The Post, Delece shifted from web producer to digital editor and writer for the publication. In 2013, she began her career with U.S. News and World Report as a higher-education reporter.
This past year, Delece was chosen to participate in the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a competitive program designed to enhance the work of mid-career journalists. For one academic year, fellows attend seminars on topics like innovation in journalism, personal development, and investigative reporting while attending classes at Michigan related to their own personalized study plan. Influenced by her work with U.S. News and World Report, Delece’s study plan focused on the efforts of top-tier research universities across the country to increase the number of faculty of color at their institutions. The Knight-Wallace Fellowship also gives fellows the opportunity to take their journalism study abroad; during her year with the program, Delece travelled to South Korea and Brazil.
Reflecting on her time in this fellowship, Delece concludes that “the most valuable aspect of it for me was having eight months to step away from the daily grind, and focus on an aspect of education news that is largely under-reported.” She liked being able to focus on the minority experience in higher education, and also appreciated the challenges posed to her in some of her courses.
Throughout her journalism career, Delece has covered a diverse range of topics, from pop culture to personal finance to higher education. When asked which is her favorite field to write about, Delece replies that she “love[s] learning and understanding how other people learn and what innovations and transformations are happening in the education sector”; so far, she has most enjoyed writing pieces related to higher education. Her favorite story to cover has been one which analyzes the shift in the policies and curriculums of many historically black colleges and universities to become more inclusive of their LGBTQ communities.
She also enjoyed reporting on a local designer who designed a dress for Michelle Obama and whose line was to appear at New York Fashion Week in 2012.
Despite her rise to excellence in her career, Delece holds onto lessons she learned at Holy Child. She especially attributes her appreciation for diversity to experiences she gained in high school; as a member of the Black Student Union, the track team, student council, and the student newspaper, The Willow, Delece interacted with students of different backgrounds and subsequently realized the importance of diversity of thought, heritage, and socio-economic status. Delece also considers her time at Holy Child as an instrumental part of her journalism success. “Because I worked on my writing skills as a high schooler,“ she reflects, “I had an easier time than others in my college English class.” Her time writing for The Willow helped her realize her passion for journalism and led her to pursue the academic and professional path that she did.
“I would advise Holy Child students to follow their natural interests and to work hard at pursuing their passion. I’ve always loved writing and I loved my English classes at Holy Child,” Delece responds when prompted for advice to current students. She took advantage of high school to foster her interests and develop her passion, and her hard work paid off. As a highly successful journalist who is enthusiastic about education, Delece Smith-Barrow has made the Holy Child community proud.
Since this article was written, Delece has secured the jobs of Senior Editor at The Hechinger Report and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, teaching and advising graduate journalism students on how to produce long-form stories.