By Christalyn Solomon and Jordan Grice
Award-winning author Isabel Wilkerson will be visiting Hampton University Sunday to speak to students on Founders Day. The Howard University graduate is the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism.
Rosalynne Whitaker-Heck, longtime friend and assistant dean of Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications, recalls the time the two spent in college together at Howard saying, “I knew she was going to conquer the world.”
Whitaker-Heck recalled when Wilkerson transformed from the “big haired, self-conscious, pigtail- wearing girl” to the “sleek, polished, and glamorous” writer and educator that she is now.
She remembers Wilkerson as a writer for the Hilltop newspaper, saying, “She came in blazing. She quickly caught the attention of the newspaper staff because we were not used to seeing a freshman so involved and motivated.”
Whitaker-Heck says she was the photo editor and was surprised to see Wilkerson’s work come across her desk: “She created a fashion supplement for the newspaper and the students just loved it; that was her brain child.”
After Wilkerson graduated, Whitaker-Heck followed her career, occasionally seeing her at the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) meetings including the 1994 Awards ceremony where Wilkerson was named Journalist of the Year
Wilkerson was recently the recipient of the Anisfield-Wolf book award in 2011.
Both writers are students at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications