LA Times editor makes news: a new scholarship for underrepresented students

Kevin Merida speaking from the podium at Commencement.

For his remarks at the COM graduate student convocation ceremonies, Kevin Merida (COM’79) spoke of courage and giving and how much his mother guided his journey from Boston University to his current post as executive editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Then he turned words to action, announcing his gift to COM establishing the Doris Hill Graduating Scholarship Fund, named in honor of his mother and “of all the unheralded, unsung Black women and others who have labored in the shadows, lifting us, making us better human beings,” he told the students.

The fund will pay for a scholarship presented each year to a graduate journalism student with financial need, with a preference for students who have graduated from a historically Black college or university, or students from backgrounds historically underrepresented by COM, he said.

The idea of the scholarship fund was inspired, in part, by Trevor Noah, who Merida had met as a guest on his podcast. When Noah said goodbye to audience members on his final episode hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central, he credited strong Black women for much of his success.

“‘Who do you think has shaped me, nourished me, informed me?’ Merida recalled Trevor saying. ‘If you truly want to learn about America, talk to Black women.’”

The advice struck Merida.

“Graduates, wrap your arms tight around the people who love you, who traveled far to be here with you, who supported you, who sacrificed a piece of themselves for you to get to this day. Your own Doris Hills,” he added. “Because we all need someone to believe in us. Tell them you love them. Never forget them. Honor them. Go out into the world and make them proud.”

After the convocation ceremonies, COM Dean Mariette DiChristina praised the creation of the scholarship fund and its inspiration.

“Kevin Merida called on graduates ‘to be a good person in the world,’ suggested Santa Claus as a role model, and celebrated the often-unsung role of Black women in America,” she said. “His generous gift of the Doris Hill Graduate Scholarship Fund will support—and inspire—future COM student journalists. We are so grateful.”