By Lucy Pearsall-Finch
Jeep has always been about adventure, and this latest exploration of mine — introducing the 2021 Grand Cherokee L — continued by exposing African American Mass Communications students to opportunities in the automotive media industry. As a journalism student at N.C. A&T, a historically black university in Greensboro, North Carolina, and an intern in The Driving Force (TDF) program, a diversity initiative by the Black Automotive Media Group (BAMG), I was invited to an SUV review featuring the new 2021 Grand Cherokee L!
The event was held this past Saturday during N.C. A&T’s Homecoming Weekend. However, instead of attending the big game, my dad and I made the trip to the Brier Creek neighborhood of Raleigh, where the internship meetup was held at the Aloft Hotel. We entered the parking lot, scanned for the vehicle, found my instructors detailing a longer than usual burgundy Jeep with Turtle Wax products, and became lost in the excitement. Nevertheless, speaking in person and directly with my automotive Zoom instructors, who are very knowledgeable car people, about a brand-new Jeep was terrific.
Between taking pictures, shaking hands, and conversing with my N.C. Central University and N.C. A&T peers, the Grand Cherokee L (our guest of honor), stole the show by automatically garnering our attention with its stunning design. Thankfully, our mentor Kimatni Rawlins drove it down from Maryland to present it to the ten students who participated. At the same time, his partner Greg Morrison flew in from Atlanta to address us.
I’m not sure exactly what the “L” stands for since I am still an intern, but this 2021 Jeep SUV is longer than the standard model and features a bevy of innovation. For example, Jeep presents owners with a McIntosh sound system, USB and USB-c ports, extra storage compartments in the rear, external and internal cameras, Uconnect 5 multimedia with navigation, perforated Nappa-leather trimmed seating, 10-inch digital screens, sensors for driving assistance technology, a 5.7-liter 8-cylinder engine, and three rows of seats. So yes, a 5’8” woman can comfortably sit in the back as I did!
While positioned at the front of the vehicle, Mr. Rawlins reminded the interns that the goal of TDF is to expose and introduce African American journalism students to opportunities within the automotive industry. He then presented an overview of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, highlighting how the new design components blend the capabilities of the traditional Jeep lifestyle with a luxurious ride for your family.
Next, Mr. Morrison became our video director and camera operator, establishing a set to demonstrate for our on-camera interviews. The interns then transitioned into reporters while Mr. Rawlins filled in as the Jeep product spokesman. Amidst laughter, confusion, and discomfort in front of the lens (wasn’t live), I could process why experiences like this are so meaningful. It was much better to have my first automotive interview with people who want the best for me. Additionally, the constructive feedback to excel is far too important.
Whether editorial, radio, or broadcast, media is a competitive field, and automotive journalism is no exception. The difference is that I didn’t even know this part of the industry was an option before becoming a part of TDF. Through each interview question and answer, it became evident that the Jeep Grand Cherokee L was redesigned to attract larger families and active lifestylers to an authentic Jeep experience. And through reflection, it is clear that BAMG is doing the work needed to help students like me prepare for the workforce after departing our wonderful educational institutions.
Thank you to my professors at N.C. A&T, mentors of The Driving Force, and our sponsor Stellantis for providing this magnificent opportunity that redefines formal education.
Lucy Pearsall-Finch is an intern with The Driving Force and a journalism student at N.C. A&T.