Czerina Patel was a Communications Specialist managing Sonke’s Communications and Strategic Information Unit. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and Philosophy from Brown University. She then took a number of courses at Harvard University including courses in Journalism and Editing. She received a Masters of Science in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism where she was a student in Broadcast Journalism. Czerina is a documentary producer and has numerous journalism and broadcast awards including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, the Coming Up Taller Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award, The Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists/Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award, the Radio and Television News Directors UNITY Award (twice), the Third Coast International Audio Festival Award (three times), and many other awards and professional recognitions.
Czerina was born in Cape Town, but has lived her life both in the USA and in South Africa. When living in New York, Czerina produced a radio documentary series with at-risk youth in New York called Radio Rookies – “ a programme of WNYC Radio (the largest public radio station in the U.S.) She was the Senior Producer of the programme and was involved since its inception. She helped guide Radio Rookies through its first six years, and during her tenure at WNYC, Czerina built the Radio Rookies program into one of the most well known youth media programmes in the U.S., with regular broadcasts on National Public Radio and a high public profile. In addition to running Radio Rookies, Czerina taught the workshops, produced the stories and developed strong relationships with the youth participants. Czerina then founded Yenza, a non profit organization which works through a number of media and development projects to inspire and empower South Africans, including the Self Project which works with teenagers in the Mfuleni township on all aspects of self-development.
Czerina has studied film and photography. She has worked on television documentaries, including the Long Walk to Freedom documentary, a project produced in conjunction with the feature film about Nelson Mandela. Czerina has worked as a field producer on a radio documentary that took her to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. She is an avid traveler, has traveled extensively in five of the seven continents, has documented gorilla tracking in Uganda, and has summited Mount Kilimanjaro. She speaks French and enjoys running, yoga and thoughtful conversation.
Czerina is a regular screener for Columbia University’s DuPont Awards, judging excellence in broadcast investigative journalism. She is also a writer and blogger.
Czerina sees media as a way to inform, educate, move people to action, touch people’s hearts and ignite their minds. She enjoys bringing the human aspect to stories, helping people express what matters to them, and share interesting, powerful and impactful stories with the rest of the world. And mostly she enjoys it when journalism and positive social transformation intersect and advance each other. This is what ignited the passion in her work with Sonke.