An investment in our future – The Virginian-Pilot

As 2022 draws to a close, it’s only natural to look back on the year to celebrate the memories and reflect on the lessons learned.

For us at Virginia Media, 2022 will always be remembered as the year of gun violence.

Sierra Jenkins, an educational reporter for The Virginian-Pilot and Daily Press, said three people were killed in a shooting at Chicho’s Pizza Backstage in downtown Norfolk on March 19, when a popular nightspot closed. was one of us.In all, five people were shot after an altercation began on Granby Street just after 1:30 a.m.

In addition to Jenkins, Devon Harris, 25, and Markelle Andrews, 24, died in the shooting. Harris died at the scene, Jenkins died in hospital, and Andrews died three weeks later.

Sierra had just celebrated her 25th birthday six days ago. She grew up in Norfolk and graduated from Granby High School. Tidewater After attending her community college, she transferred to Georgia State University, where she majored in journalism, with her minor in African American Studies.

She has worked for The Pilot and Daily Press since December 2020 after stints at Atlanta Magazine and CNN. Upon returning to the area, she immediately began covering her education and quickly became a staff favorite and mentor to others.

In May, a suspect was arrested in connection with the shooting. Antoine M. Legrande Jr. was charged with three counts of second-degree murder, five counts of using a firearm, and two counts of malicious bodily injury.

But last month, the charges against Le Grande were dismissed after two witnesses failed to attend the preliminary hearing. This case was another example of why setting up an effective witness protection program in Virginia should be a top priority at the January meeting. The initiative has broad bipartisan support, and it’s almost over.

Recently, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a new crime prevention initiative that includes “providing additional resources for victims and witnesses.” These resources include accommodation, transportation, and protective surveillance to ensure the safety of those who serve the public interest by testimony.

It is difficult to find closure after such a loss, especially when law enforcement is unable to fully prosecute the case. Friends, families, and the public are left alone with grief and frustration.

Still, our press tried to find a way forward. Worked with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to help establish a new scholarship fund for Virginia students to pursue journalism degrees — in memory of Sierra.

When the scholarship was announced, Maurice Jenkins, Sierra’s father, said, “It means a lot to our family.” Informing is another thing.”

The Sierra Jenkins Scholarship Fund is managed by the Hampton Roads Community Foundation with funding and support from the Virginia Press Association, Virginia Press Foundation and Virginia Media.

If you are a journalism student or know someone, please consider applying for this scholarship. Special consideration is given to black students and those from historically marginalized backgrounds. Applicants can apply through the scholarship portal by visiting the HRCF website.

If you would like to donate to this fund, please visit Scholarships are available for the 2023-24 academic year. Offers her one-time scholarship to a longtime Virginia resident seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism or communications with a specialization in journalism at her four-year college in the Commonwealth.

For Sierra, telling stories about her community was more than just a job. For many local journalists working across the country, it was a calling. It is only through this scholarship that others can follow the calling.

Consider donating to an aspiring journalist this season of giving. Celebrate Sierra and help us enhance future community reports.

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