I began research for my story under the impression that I’d be able to execute a hard-hitting expose on Planned Parenthood’s decision to reject Title X funds. This decision was made in opposition to the Trump administration rule that doctors at centers accepting these funds would be prohibited from referring patients to doctors who provide abortions. It could have any number of negative consequences: understaffed centers, undersupplied offices, the inability to keep many of their services free of charge, etc. I hoped that during my research and interviews, I’d be able to understand just how much of an effect this decision might have nationwide by analyzing its effects on the two centers in Salt Lake City. If there weren’t so many far-reaching effects, I’d have taken my idea in a bit of a different direction by evaluating the decision through the lens of a social and political advocate. This approach, however, never came to fruition.
As I researched sources, I figured that my best options were the managers of the centers, the media/press hotline, and people using Planned Parenthood’s services, which of course would be their prerogative. Unfortunately, after many visits to both centers and various inquiries, I discovered that Planned Parenthood employees aren’t permitted to give interviews, which is understandable given the current conservative attitudes toward Planned Parenthood and the protests that happen daily at centers around the country. This proved particularly fatal for my original story idea.
How could I write a full story about Planned Parenthood and how a significant decision impacts its centers without input from Planned Parenthood? It was then that I chose to shift my focus to the accessibility of sexual and reproductive health resources for students, which was always going to be a part of my story. Instead of making it the main event, I decided to use Planned Parenthood as an example of a sexual health resource in my new story.
For this new idea, I found my sources quite easily. I went to the Center for Student Wellness and talked to one of the educators there about my story. She referred me to the sexual wellness educator, Maya Jolley, and told me about the ACES Peer Health Education Program. In my interview with Jolley, I learned more about the program and got in contact with two of the students involved with the program, Elnaz Tahmassebi and Linda Derhak. I interviewed both students and got their take on sexual health education for students and their roles in the program. Once I had all three interviews done, it was relatively easy to work them into my story and make sense of the narrative I was trying to write.
It was important to me that anyone could read my story and understand why sexual and reproductive health resources are incredibly important for students, so I made sure to write clearly and explain the issue in depth. Even though the topic is relatively taboo and negative, I wanted to make sure that it was something people could talk about with hope, so I ended the story on a positive note.
My first story was a retelling of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” My first favorite book series was Nancy Drew. And my first favorite magazine was National Geographic. I fell in love with the written word at a young age. I’ve never wanted to do anything with my life that didn’t involve writing. Initially, my heart was set on becoming a novelist, though, as I aged I grew to appreciate other types of writing and I broadened my horizons. In high school, writing for the school newspaper coaxed out a love for journalism that I didn’t know existed and prompted me to consider it as a possible career, switching gears from my aspirations in criminal law, which in all honesty mainly stemmed from years of watching “Law and Order: SVU.”
In my first year at the U, I decided to combine my international interests with my journalistic interest and tack on an international studies major with an environment and sustainability emphasis. Now in my sophomore year, I’ve gleaned more information on possible career paths and as of right now, I hope to use my international studies degree to build a more solid world view so that I can write more effectively about international and environmental issues and maybe even pursue a career abroad.