Echoes from Ferguson led Stewart on the right path

Jason Wiese | Oct. 21, 2015

The events following the death of Michael Brown incited a massive, thought-provoking discussion that echoed many miles past the site of the tragedy: Ferguson, Missouri. Violent riots and restless protests against racial injustice reach global attention, making it one of the most talked about events in recent memory. For many, the events were life changing. For some, including Mariah Stewart, a Missouri-native who now reports for the Huffington Post, they were career making.

“At the time, I was working retail at a mall,” said Stewart, who was also studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, at the time, “I decided to go down there and cover it on my own. Brittany Velasco [now Estes] was actually there with me, doing it as well but, we weren’t attached to any news organization at all. We just felt like, ‘Hey, we study journalism. We should be down there covering it.’ I don’t know who found out about the tweet originally, but Brittany told me about a tweet fromBeaconReader.com. They were looking for freelancers on the ground to cover Ferguson. We applied right away and got hired right away and then, maybe a week or two of being with Beacon Reader.com, Huffington Post contacted Beacon Reader and said, ‘Hey, we want her for a fellowship.’”

Stewart has been Huffington Post’s Ferguson Fellow for over a year, reporting on the latest updates surrounding the city and the continuing aftermath of Brown’s death by the gun of former police officerDarren Wilson. She has come a long way from struggling to graduate on time to questioning her career path to obtaining a position in journalism that is especially important to her, being a young black woman. She believes that her demographic was a deciding factor.

Stewart takes pride in her work, which has given her bestowed her many great memories with the Huffington Post. Yet, covering Ferguson is obviously not without its dangers. Stewart recalls one night in which she suffered a blast of tear gas.

Yet, her pride in the work she was doing remained. To witness the unrest in Ferguson first hand taught Stewart a lot and was instrumental in her gaining a better understand that reporters are still human.

If someone would have told Stewart a year ago that she would be working with Huffington Post on a still-developing story at such a large scale, she would not have believed a word that they said. Now, the proof can be found for everyone to see on the internet.