HIV-Positive Journalism Student Wins Prestigious Leadership Award

At this past weekend’s Apple Awards presented in New York City by the College Media Association, another chapter was added to a remarkable, ongoing story. In the category of “Best Student Media Leader,” the winner was Albert Fulcher (pictured), a journalism student at southern San Diego County’s Southwestern College. He is slated to graduate from the Chula Vista campus this year.

After being diagnosed some time ago with HIV, Fulcher gained control of the disease with experimental drugs and decided, in his late forties, to enroll at the community college to pursue his dream of becoming a journalist. The nomination letter submitted to the CMA on his behalf is an incredible read. It outlines his contributions as editor-in-chief of the college’s Sun newspaper, highlighted by this critical episode:

Mr. Fulcher’s greatest leadership came in September 2010 when the president of Southwestern College ordered the faculty and staff of The Sun to cease publication. The president and three governing board members found out that The Sun was about to publish an expose that showed illegal campaign contributions and shocking pay-for-play bribery involving the college’s vice president of fiscal services. The journalism faculty and students refused to comply with the order. Mr. Fulcher showed great courage, brilliant strategy and enormous energy leading a drive to raise funds and print the paper at a printer two counties away.

More than 300 college employees, students and community members – including a Congressman and a state senator – braved a thunder storm to meet Mr. Fulcher and his staff as they carried the stunning issue off the delivery truck and into the heart of the campus. The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” blared from a boom box as the cheering crowd and the black clouds parted. It was like a scene from a movie.

Wow. FishbowlLA hopes that movie gets made some day. Our heartiest congratulations to Fulcher for his burgeoning media career, which also includes the occasional contribution to Imperial Beach Patch.

[Photo courtesy Fulcher’s Twitter profile]