Alumni Spotlight : Simeon Lancaster

Simeon Lancaster of the Fall 2015 MOJ program sits atop sand dunes near Merzouga during the Southern Excursion. Photo courtesy of Simeon Lancaster.
Simeon Lancaster of the Fall 2015 MOJ program sits atop sand dunes near Merzouga during the Southern Excursion. Photo courtesy of Simeon Lancaster.

by Taylor Burris

Simeon Lancaster, 21, inspired by the president of Round Earth Media, Mary Stucky, knew that he wanted to journey to Morocco to broaden his cultural knowledge and build strong cross-cultural connections through his work in journalism. Although he has yet to return to the country, he is heading to Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus this January to study their governmental systems after the collapse of the USSR.

“Coverage is drastically decreasing and I don’t want that to happen. I saw so many people who had very important stories outside the U.S. and we rarely hear anything about these parts of the world” Lancaster said. “We need to break America’s bubble and egocentric news. [This is] one world with a ton of people and we can’t be only looking at our own stories.”

Lancaster’s first independent venture outside of the United States not only strengthened his expertise and confidence in the field of journalism, but also gave him the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of a North African country. Although initially hesitant, the three and a half month intensive journalism program assured him of the endless possibilities within international print reporting which he now applies to his journalism and political science majors.

“Humans are the same everywhere; the world was opened up but also made a lot smaller. Being able to relate with peers my age from North Africa, this was my drive to tell their stories. The less we hear about these places and people, the less we are able to empathize, but they are just like us.”

Lancaster is currently a senior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. ince his Moroccan adventure, this Minnesota native has worked as the spring assignment editor for TommieMedia, reporter intern for the Sun Post, production intern for GoMinnesota and is currently the production editor for TommieMedia and a reporting intern for PBS NewsHour for Under Stories. Lancaster’s passion for journalism coupled with his experience in Morocco has taught him how to juggle the busy life of a student and a professional journalist.

Today, the connections Lancaster made in North Africa remain in his network and he hopes to see them again, as he intends to return to Morocco someday. Being a student that entered the program with no expertise in the Arabic or French language, he encourages all those thinking about journalism to partake in the MOJ program to Morocco.

As Lancaster furthers his career in print journalism, he advises the future MOJ program to, “take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people. Go somewhere, share your experience with them and bring their experience back. Take in the beauty of Morocco. Look at the ocean and sunset… I got wrapped up in work. Don’t let the business overwhelm you.”

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