D.C.’s Freedom Forum names Wesal Haroun Iowa’s Free Spirit Scholarship winner

Haroun will receive a scholarship and all-expenses-paid trip to D.C. to attend a journalism conference this summer


Zoe Scott

Wesal Haroun ’24 is the 2023 Free Spirit winner from Iowa. Haroun will be the Trojan Epic co-editor-in-chief for 2023-24.

The Freedom Forum in Washington, D.C. awarded Wesal Haroun ’24 in the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference for 2023. Students selected for the program receive an all-expenses-paid trip and a $1,000 scholarship to the college of their choice.

After three years of online meetings, the annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference will take place in-person again in Washington, D.C. June 24-29.

The program was established in 1999 to honor Neuharth, founder of The Freedom Forum and USA TODAY. The conference is designed to inspire and encourage students to pursue journalism. Today there are more than 1,400 “Free Spirits” including journalists working for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, ESPN and network-affiliated TV stations.

According to the Freedom Forum website, Free Spirits have been described as people who “dream, dare, do.” 

“A free spirit can also be a risk-taker, a visionary, an innovative leader, or a courageous achiever who accomplishes great things beyond his or her circumstances,” said Neuharth, who died in 2013.

Haroun is currently student life co-editor and assistant editor-in-chief of the Trojan Epic yearbook, and she will be Trojan Epic co-editor-in-chief for the 2023-24 school year.

Previous West High Journalism Free Spirit winners include Maya Chu ’23, Hanah Kitamoto ’22, Marta Leira ’20, Anjali Huynh ’18, Isabelle Robles ’17, Lushia Anson ’14, Ashton Duncan ’12, Eleanor Marshall ’11 and Gordon Bourjaily ’06. Haroun is the first Trojan Epic staff member to receive this honor.