Kayla Lien

MY STORY:

The diversity and importance of Black-owned businesses in Salt Lake City

MY BLOG:

From the moment I laid eyes on a Vogue magazine, I’ve wanted to have my name on its pages. Fashion and clothing have been a part of my life since I was 12, when I started learning how to sew costumes. 

So often, I was told there was no market for someone like me. I didn’t look like those designers, the models walking the runway, not even the people watching in the stands. It became abundantly obvious that, if I wanted a seat at the table, I would have to make one. My interest in this, heightened by the volatile sociopolitical climate from the past year, led me to my story idea, highlighting clothing brands and creators of color.

Originally, I had wanted to talk to people of color from all regions and was specifically interested in speaking with women. I was especially looking for people of Asian descent because I wanted to see how COVID has impacted their business. However, all my sources ended up being Black men, coincidentally. 

I located sources from a lot of Google searching and scouring Instagram nonstop. It was hard to get responses from potential sources, even harder trying to coordinate schedules. Admittedly, I am not well-versed in Zoom, so that was a struggle for me while interviewing. At one point, I thought I had lost half an hour of content — my nails were chewed down to the quick. Luckily, everything righted itself, helped along with typing in Comic Sans font and video game soundtracks in the background.

ABOUT ME:

Kayla Lien is a full-time student at the University of Utah, majoring in communication with an emphasis in journalism. She attended East High School in Salt Lake City and was involved in the journalism class all throughout her time there. Having been an editor for two years, Kayla became the editor-in-chief her senior year. During her time at East, she won a few awards for her writing, such as First Place for Op/Ed writing in the Utah Futures of Journalism awards in 2018.

Kayla enjoys writing about and highlighting social issues, especially those that influence minority groups. As a queer woman of color, she recognizes the need for diversity and inclusion. As much as she loves to write, she vehemently detests writing autobiographies. 

Between school and work, she can be found crocheting, sewing, or making funky earrings. If not there, check under her 80-pound German Shepherd. She may have gotten lost.

Paige Nelson

MY STORY:

Salt Lake City is determined to take charge of curbing homelessness: Who is putting in the work?

MY BLOG:

On my way home from work one day on the TRAX, I was mulling over possible ideas for my enterprise story. I hadn’t the faintest clue as to what I thought would be important enough to write about. Something that equally hadn’t already been beaten into the ground yet and something that I was interested in. While I was sitting there a woman got onto the TRAX with a stroller full of personal belongings, crying. She asked me for directions to the nearest Smith’s, and I told her it was two stops up. She didn’t ask me for money, or for food, just directions to the nearest grocery store. 

This changed my perspective quickly on the homeless population of Salt Lake City. This whole time I had been stereotyping them as drug users, panhandlers, and threats to my safety. But that isn’t always the case. I decided in that moment that I wanted to better understand the homelessness problem in Salt Lake City.

I started with this broad idea that I would be able to single-handedly understand homelessness, how it pertains to Utah, and how to fix it, all within this one assignment. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. But I had to start somewhere. 

My first contact was with the University of Utah’s Student Affairs Division. I talked to Kimberly Hall, an associate director of development, who explained to me that a lot of students don’t know what help is out there if they are facing things like food scarcity, financial problems, and homelessness. 

I was then able to hold a Zoom interview with Kat Kahn, director of development at The Road Home, a noteworthy homeless shelter organization in the Salt Lake Valley. She gave me insight on how to break down the stereotypes often portrayed onto people experiencing homelessness and stressed the importance of creating affordable housing in the area.

My final interview helped me tie up loose ends in my article. I met with Andrew Johnston, chief strategy leader of Volunteers of America. He explained to me how organizations like his work with people living on the streets and help them find the correct path to get them back into the community in a healthy way. He discussed rehab and mental health centers, and homeless shelters that his organization helps provide to people experiencing homelessness. 

Upon completion of my interviews, I had a lot of scattered information I needed to sort through. I came up with a plan to focus on how different organizations in the Salt Lake City are combatting homelessness, and was able to incorporate some really interesting quotes and anecdotes into my story. 

Once I had gotten my topic refined, the words came quite easily. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the Zoom interviews because it allowed me to go back and not only listen, but watch how the interviewees spoke to get more concrete and descriptive details into my article. 

Wrapping up my article felt so refreshing because I was able to find a nice balance between informing the audience as well as showing my journey learning along the way. It was really rewarding to see it all come together in the end!

ABOUT ME:

I grew up in Arlington, Washington, a small town about an hour north of Seattle. With forests and mountains surrounding me, I had a lot of room to let my imagination run wild. But the place I loved the most was inside my collection of books. 

Because of Washington’s rainy climate, I spent a lot of time nestled up on the couch with my favorite authors. I read hundreds of novels from “Harry Potter” to “The Selection” to “The Mysterious Benedict Society,” and through them all I had created a secondary life. One full of comfort and bliss.

As I grew older I learned the world wasn’t fitting into the fairytale ending I was so accustomed to. I started paying more attention to the news, reading more timely articles, and developing educated thoughts of my own.

Today I am 18 years old, on track to graduate from the University of Utah with a political science degree and an emphasis on law and politics in a total of 2.5 years. I hope to one day work as a news correspondent or share my ideas with the country as an elected official. 

However, politics can be exhausting, and that’s why I find it so beneficial to write. I have a blog that is basically my diary for strangers to read, and I actually find great joy in writing essays for my classes. One day I hope to write a book, maybe a memoir of my life’s accomplishments or I might take on the next great American novel. 

For now, writing remains a hobby as I pursue my dream of working in politics. And whether I choose to pursue a masters program, law school, or jump straight into my profession, I know that I will always find comfort in putting words down on a page.

Owen Benson

MY STORY:

Populism’s only certainty is uncertainty: the causes and consequence of populism on a democratic society

MY BLOG:

When the class was presented with the enterprise story project, I was initially quite anxious about the process. I was unsure of my own capabilities and competence in the field of journalistic work. This would, after all, be my first real story for publication. I had written a few opinion pieces for my high school’s magazine “The Royal Banner,” however, these pieces looked vastly different than what was expected from this project.

So, I wracked my brain trying to work out a topic that was not only a pertinent story, but something that I was passionate about as well. My initial thought was to write about the comic book culture in Salt Lake City. I am a massive comic book fan. Ever since I was a kid I consumed comics with gusto. I’m drawn to them in a way only a few things in this life can hold a flame to. The mixture of visual and written storytelling in tandem with archetypal heroes who could be role models was exceptional for a developing mind.

However, I believed there was a more important story to be told in our modern world. The age of comic bookstores, with their rows of yellowing ink-ladened comics, is coming to an all too swift end. Sadly. Yet, there is something on the rise in America, something far more sinister than comic book villains.

The rapid rise of extremist rhetoric — it is being used by politicians and the public alike. I am a student of history; there is nothing more fascinating to me than the rise and fall of societies, cultures, and government. Examining how and why these events occur, and how then to extrapolate that information to other situations to learn from the past is a passion of mine.

The proliferation of this rhetoric is a concerning historical trend. Not only is it concerning when one looks to the past, but even more so when one looks at the present. Extremist leaders are gaining power in every corner of the globe. The rise of these politicians is concerning for anyone with a cosmopolitan bent — like myself. I fear with the rise of extremism our global society will once again slip into sectarian, ethnic, and nationalistic disputes. I dread this outcome.

The events that transpired on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, shattered my perception that America was still the moral and political arbiter of the world. I believe as the sole global superpower it ought to be our duty to champion the ideals that we claim to hold so dear; the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We did not live up to these ideals that fateful day, but our war is not lost. The battles are only just beginning.

I needed to know more about the causes and consequences of extremist rhetoric on a democratic society, like our own. I knew this was an important topic, one that deserved justice in its telling. That doesn’t mean that I thought I should be the one telling it, however. To gain that personal confidence, I would have to look outside myself.

My first stop was my parents, Leigh and Joel Benson. They are not only my biggest cheerleaders, but they are also my mentors, my friends, my counsels, and my bedrock. They truly urge me to be the best version of myself possible. Even when I doubt myself, they never do. Parents are unique in that way. After I pitched them my idea, they only had one response, “You got this!”

With a smidgen of extra confidence, I decided to head on toward my second station. Next stop, Professor Mangun. I went into the conversation with her hesitant about my pitch, starting with my comic book idea in case I was getting too outlandish with my proposal on extremism. This was not the case. My pitch on extremism made Mangun’s eyes light up, a grin crept across her face until it spanned from ear to ear.

“You’ve got this, Owen,” Mangun said with determination and excitement wrapped into one. I may not have been confident enough on my own, but with the support of those close to me I was able to manifest my goals into reality. Mangun assured my that not only was I competent enough to grapple with such a topic, I would be doing a disservice to myself to believe otherwise. I was ready to tackle extremism, or so I thought.

I began my crash course in extremism in the same place that incubates this rhetoric, on the dark web. Through the use of Tor and a VPN, I scoured the web for the chatrooms and forums where this form of rhetoric is king. I never appreciated the vile vitriol that existed on the internet until my brief trip down the rabbit hole. Yet a few themes kept rearing their ugly heads: the belief of disenfranchisement by the elites, fears and anxiety about our political and societal institutions, and how uncertain our world is and subsequently how that makes people fear the future.

This was all crucial information, but it didn’t mean much to me at the time, I had no idea what to do with this information. With Mangun’s help I was able to whittle down my scope and begin looking for my sources. I began by searching for professors in the Salt Lake Valley who are experts in extremist rhetoric. That is when I found Dr. Ethan Busby at Brigham Young University, my first source.

Busby specializes in political psychology. He also wants to understand why people are attracted to this inflammatory rhetoric. What about it is so appealing to the average citizen? I conducted an interview with Busby that lasted a little more than an hour. It was during this interview that my story would begin crystalizing.

Busby is part of a global research network called Team Populism. Team Populism connects scholars from across the world to share their research with each other and the public in pursuits of evaluating, educating, and elevating the collective knowledge on populism. It is through my connection with Busby that I was able to find my second source.

Busby recommended that I reach out to Dr. Kirk Hawkins, who is also a professor at BYU and a director of Team Populism. Busby said he enjoyed our conversation and would recommend me to any of his colleagues for an interview. I was flabbergasted. This was my first real interview and yet I conducted it well enough to receive a seal of approval the first go-around. My hopes were climbing.

I reached out to Hawkins via email to see if he would be interested in an interview. He responded the very same day. He was exuberant that such a young person was exploring these topics and wanted to provide any help and information he could in assisting me to develop my story. We scheduled an interview, and much like my interview with Busby, we talked for about an hour.

Hawkins specializes in the larger systems that populism affects. He studies what happens to governments and power when populist leaders infiltrate them. Hawkins was impressed by my level of geopolitical knowledge, and my understanding of the inner workings of a political movement. I attribute this to my passion for history, but also my interest in the Middle East, where it is crucial for one to grasp these connections to see the web that develops between ideas and movements.

Partly due to this — but also due to their extensive knowledge and teaching experience — I received a massive amount of information from these two sources. I was losing sight of my focus. I was beginning to think of my topic as a senior’s thesis rather than a single news story, I needed to change something.

My first change was switching my topic from extremist rhetoric to specifically populist rhetoric. This may not seem like a big difference, but extremist rhetoric is a massive topic and I needed to look at a much smaller slice. My first two sources are experts in populist rhetoric, so I already had the information I needed to make this switch. It also became acutely apparent to me that my questions on extremism were really questions on populism. This may be due to populist rhetoric being the most common form of extremist rhetoric in the United States and the Western world more broadly.

It is at this point that I hit another major hurdle. I ran out of professors of populist rhetoric in the Salt Lake Valley after interviewing Busby and Hawkins. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was unsure who I would reach out to for my third and final interview. I knew I wanted a source from the Salt Lake Valley to keep the story relevant to the publisher and the reader that I envisioned being from this region for this specific project. I wanted a source that would add a completely different frame of mind to the story.

What is a democratic society other than a system of laws and mutual agreement? Not much in fact. To understand the effects and consequences of populism on a democratic society I needed to understand that system of laws and mutual agreement. I needed a lawyer, an expert in law. Not just any law, but the law that concerns the very sites that I began this process with in the first place — media law.

RonNell Anderson Jones is a law professor at the University of Utah. She ended up being my final source. I found her through the S. J. Quinney College of Law website by searching for professors who specialize in media law. Jones was the perfect source; she specializes in social media law.

I found it fascinating that all three of my sources came to the same conclusion just by different methods, viewpoints, and modalities. Uncertainty is high in the United States, this leads to people seeking ways to amend this uncertainty. Populism offers that solution, through a veil of perceived certainty. The way to combat this rise is not necessarily through legal measures, or altering our current system of governance, or condemning individuals for having concerns about their government’s decisions, but by educating the individual.

Click. The focus of my story snapped into place, I knew the tone that I would have to convey to tell this story, I knew what my outcome had to be, I knew what my story had to be. I now had a blank map with two points on it, I knew where I was and where I wanted to be. I had the tools to fill in this map through the information I gained from my sources and the knowledge I gleaned through research. I just had to begin drawing.

It still had yet to dawn on me that my map was massive. I had mountains of information. I truly could have written a research paper on the topic, but that was not my intention. I needed a news story. I needed to tie all my information back to the reader. I wanted my piece to serve as part of the education required to combat this rise of populism. How was I to do this?

My first attempt was a disaster. It was too bloated, and the message got lost in the myriad of details. I hated this outcome; the message was a huge part of my intention and to muddle it was a disservice to the topic and its gravity. So, I reached back out to my support network.

After a crucial conversation with my parents, I was able to winnow out my focus even further. Through the lens of uncertainty, I could show how populism affects us all. I could ground the cognitively complex topic of susceptibility to populist rhetoric to one maxim, one that everyone can relate to — uncertainty in one’s life.

Then came my conversation with Professor Mangun. I pitched the idea of viewing populism through the lens of uncertainty. She loved it, it grounded an esoteric topic to the everyday citizen, it provided the pathway for anyone experiencing uncertainty to question if they were becoming more extreme or populist with their rhetoric. It showed the consequences of this line of thinking and the slippery slope that all of us must actively be aware of and earnestly stray from.

This reinvigorated my spirit for the project. I had felt so bogged down by the topic, anxious that I couldn’t say everything that I wanted or needed to in a single story. But, like any diamond, an intense amount of pressure is required to transform something raw and ugly into something beautiful and dazzling. It was time to start cutting my diamond — it now needed to sparkle.

To make my story connected to the reader I would have to ground my ideas into real-world events. I couldn’t just talk about them in abstracts, nor would it make sense to evaluate another country’s descent into populism. I needed to ground my story firmly in America, for an American audience, so why not use the event that opened my eyes to the dangers of this rhetoric in our own nation. The riots on Capitol Hill.

I grounded my story in real politicians, from both sides of the political spectrum, because populism isn’t just a trend for one political party. I wanted to show that we are all in this struggle together. I didn’t want to be the kind of journalist who sits in their ivory tower and spouts long prose just to shame or demonize a group of people for not thinking the same way as themselves. In fact, that’s part of the reason we’re in this mess in the first place.

I knew I couldn’t eliminate bias from my story, since I still wanted to have a message, a moral to my story. But I knew if I could refrain from exposing that bias until the end the reader would be more likely to read the entire story and take my words into consideration. I studied other articles published on populism in major newspapers, most of them start out with a strong bent against populism. Shaming it from the start, shaming the people who fall victim to its ideas, and shaming the country for allowing this to happen.

I knew I couldn’t write an article like this. It’s simply not how I viewed the subject anymore. I understood that populism is an ideology supposedly of and for the people, the fact that it is attractive to an average citizen is the point of populism. It was vital to show that falling victim to populism is easy.

Yet one should be wary of populism not because it is inherently bad, but because it places too much power in the hands of a few in addition to turning citizens of a collective society against each other for perceived slights. The employment of populist rhetoric is capitalized upon by clever political actors in pursuit of power through public opinion. If I could show that citizens are the victims of such rhetoric and the consolidation of power, and not benefactors of finally being heard, then I have succeeded.

My map was gaining details, the path between A and B seemed clearer than it ever had previously. My diamond was beginning to shine, but it still wasn’t that perfect princess cut that I envisioned. I scrapped my first draft, completely. I appreciated the lessons I learned through the process of writing and evaluating it, but it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell.

So, I began all over from scratch. I opened an entirely new document, staring at the blinking black bar on the stark white page. I was blank. How was I going to possibly achieve the goals I had set out for myself? With reassurance from my support network, of course.

“Just close your eyes, envision your finished piece, take a deep breath, and let the writing flow,” my mom said to me during the phone call. “You know how to write, Owen, you know your topic inside and out. Believe in yourself enough to know your voice matters, breathe and let that strong voice flow through you. It’s just like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and before you know it, you’ll reach heights you never knew were possible.”

I wrote. I wrote like the wind. My fingers were doing the thinking. Of course, I knew the topic, I was ensconced in it. I thought about it while skiing, I thought about it while lying in bed, I thought about it while playing video games. I had been obsessed with my topic, and I had let my obsession and pursuit of perfection cloud my vision.

My vision had crystallized, I let the words and ideas flow from my fingers like a river that might never stop. I was putting one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it my piece was sitting before me, finished, from lead to kicker in one run-through. I leaned back in my chair and chuckled to myself, “So that’s where this map has been leading me, huh?”

My map was finished, I had plotted my course and allowed myself the grace to traverse it with care. I take pride in my work, I compete against myself constantly, always striving to surpass myself and reach new heights. This project was one of those new heights. I didn’t enter this class thinking I could turn out a piece of work like my enterprise story, but I proved myself wrong. Which is always a welcome surprise. I continued to work on my piece, refining it, tweaking it. Trying to push it up the ladder of excellence. I still have much to learn about journalism, and populism for that matter, yet this excites me instead of discouraging me. I had crafted my princess diamond, and it sparkled more than I could’ve hoped when the lump of carbon first sat before me.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah. I am currently double-majoring — in journalism through the Department of Communication and in Middle Eastern Studies with an Arabic emphasis through the Department of World Languages and Cultures. I grew up inculcated in the stories from every nook and cranny of our vast globe, devouring the experiences and absorbing the crucial nutrients of empathy, humility, and the unwavering strength and majesty of the human struggle. Thus, this is why I tirelessly toil to continue weaving this collective chronicle of existence.

I strive toward giving voice to the voiceless. In an increasingly globalized society I believe now more than ever it is critical we hear voices from every corner of our globe. I aspire to report on the stories that shape our geopolitical landscape. I believe the most crucial part of shaping public opinion is the knowledge that is provided through human stories. To work toward a more perfect Free World our society must have as much empathy for our neighbors as we do for those we’ve never met. To give voice, power, and recognition to these experiences is the first step toward a more perfect world.

The duty of a journalist ought to be to hold those in power accountable. I am fascinated by revolutions, coup d’etats, protests, and both intra and international conflicts. The relationship between the people and those in power will always be a tenuous line. I believe it is journalists who can act as mediators between these parties. If not mediators, then informants for the betterment of our globalized society. Through human stories, journalists have the opportunity to open hearts and minds to the realities of our world.

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell

Skylar Yenchik

MY STORY:

The rise of Utah’s standout e-commerce company during the pandemic

MY BLOG:

In the past year of hardships caused by the spread of COVID-19, e-commerce has boomed as people have forgone in-person shopping in favor of the online shopping platform. Because of this marked increase, I thought it would be interesting to explore how e-commerce has changed, not only during the pandemic, but in the past several years. 

In an effort to keep my story local and relevant to Utahns and University of Utah students alike, I researched local e-commerce companies that have innovated and expanded within Utah. While there are companies such as eBay Inc. that have offices in Utah, I wanted a company that had started, and been built here. Route App. Inc was founded and established in Lehi, Utah, by Evan Walker and Mike Moreno in 2018. 

The Route App has expanded and changed since its opening, causing it to be number 35 in the Apple iTunes store. Route has gained millions of users by streamlining the process of tracking packages, and creating the unique Discover page within the app to allow users to connect directly with brands. 

I believe this unique evolution of the online shopping and shipping platform to be extremely relevant to this day and age, especially this generation of college students. I decided to direct my story toward Route, e-commerce, and how this company has benefited the local economy and created opportunities for students at local universities such as the University of Utah. 

A valuable asset to my story was Nick Lloyd, an alumnus of the University of Utah and a software engineering manager at Route. He was able to connect his experience at the U to his current position at Route. Because of his position at the company, he was able to teach me how Route has innovated and changed the online platform, specifically the mobile app. 

I also interviewed Stephanie Black, head of talent and culture at Route who was uniquely qualified to expand on what Route aims to accomplish, in addition to the work culture and environment at Route. 

It was challenging to be able to coordinate schedules with Black and Lloyd because they both manage large teams at Route, and their time is in very high demand. Because of the rapid expansion of Route, there are also certain topics that are not available to be released to the public, which meant I also had to be careful of which questions to broach in both interviews. 

I was surprised with the writing process and ending result of my story, because I had initially started with the idea to write singularly on how local e-commerce had changed in 2020. After interviewing my sources, I realized that in addition to the change of the online shopping platform, I also realized I wanted to look into the strides in innovation, the benefit of e-commerce on the local economy, and the benefits to my fellow university students.

ABOUT ME:

I am currently a full-time university student, and hope to graduate in May of 2022. I am first and foremost a writer, with aspirations to work in the publishing industry. I love writing fiction and short stories as often as possible. I also enjoy reading, cooking, and pop culture centered around cinema. I hope to continue to create after leaving university, and discover new outlets of creativity and art.

Emma Sellers

MY STORY:

Maintaining the connection and sustaining the spirit on University of Utah Greek row in the midst of a global pandemic 

MY BLOG:

As a relatively indecisive person, choosing a topic for my enterprise story was a complicated task for me. I wanted to write about something that I was interested in but also a topic that was relevant to my own life. As a freshman and new member to Greek life, I was curious about how this year differed from past years. I have only experienced a COVID-19 style Greek life, so I decided to write about the way this year had changed the organization as a whole. 

I wanted to locate sources who were personally involved in the planning and regulating of fraternity and sorority events. I started with asking my own sorority president, Katya Benedict, if I could interview her. Once I did it led me in the direction of other good sources to interview. I chose to interview people who had a executive position, because I believed they would have the most current information on COVID-19 safety precautions and plans for next year.  

Next I interviewed Matt Economos, who is vice president of programming for his fraternity. He plans all events and gatherings, and this year has been a big change for that role. Everything he plans must be approved, and it needs to safely follow city and state guidelines. He knew every up-to-date rule that organizations must follow and answered every question I had for him. 

Interviewing Tracey Mai was an important asset to my story because she is on Panhellenic Council and oversees all memberships. She gave me the plans and goals for the future, and was very transparent about what Greek life was currently dealing with. I had a slight obstacle when some of the information that my sources gave me contradicted one another. Matt Economos told me that they were planning an in-person recruitment in the fall, whereas Tracey Mai said that all recruitments would be virtual. I discovered later that because fraternities are under the jurisdiction of Interfraternity Council, their recruitment might differ from what Panhellenic decides sororities can do next year. 

After all my interviews I had a good idea of exactly what I wanted to include in my enterprise story. I had to re-read my interviews a few times to really process what they told me, and then look over what I had researched. I discovered my writing process through this assignment. I realized that when I write from scratch without thinking over everything beforehand, my work is sloppy. I had to make an outline, and then under each bullet point I made I would put the quotes that I would use. After my outline, the writing was easy and smooth. 

It surprised me how little I knew beforehand about the regulations and plans for next year in Greek life. I know I am only a freshman, yet I thought I knew most of what was going on. During each of my interviews I learned information that I was not aware of beforehand. I am glad I chose this topic because I know I learned a lot from it so I hope any readers feel the same.

ABOUT ME:

Emma Sellers is a freshman at the University of Utah. She has always enjoyed stories, whether that be reading or writing them. She is studying Journalism and hopes to pursue a career in writing. 

She grew up in Southern California and recently moved to Salt Lake City. Here she discovered her passion for writing. She wants to become a travel writer. Traveling has always been another of her passions and her goal is to combine her two loves into one career. 

Next fall, Emma hopes to continue her journey in writing while learning more about the craft and herself. She plans to take this knowledge with her throughout the rest of her college experience and future. 

Miken McGill

MY STORY:

Utah hospital ensures stability for employees during COVID-19

MY BLOG:

For my enterprise story, I found it hard at first to even try to develop a story idea. My mind was so jumbled with ideas on what could be reportable and newsworthy to be able to be published that I could not think of the best idea to pitch. I started to collaborate with my family and friends to see what they thought could be an interesting story to do. I wanted it to be unique, but at the same time write something I knew I could report on.

My mom started talking about St. Mark’s Hospital and how I used to volunteer there for school; she said how it could be an interesting topic to ask how the hospital was aiding their own employees during the pandemic. There had been no articles on the U NewsWriting website and I knew that being able to highlight a different hospital would be an idea that readers would want to read. I thought it was an excellent idea and knew I could easily get most of the information from interviewing who I could from St. Mark’s. I had great ideas on who to talk to, but during a pandemic I was a little worried. I went on to ponder my sources and where I might get the information from.

Next, I started to research more on St. Mark’s Hospital and think about how I wanted to talk to other people not just at the hospital in Millcreek, Utah, but others in the surrounding hospitals owned by MountainStar Healthcare. I started looking up some employees online and had an email contact or a phone number that I could contact. I found one of my resources pretty easy since he is the vice president of human resources. I knew that he would be a great gateway into finding other sources to talk to for my article. This got me to get all of my resources from him and getting three other managers being impacted from the hospital’s resources and aid during the pandemic. It was also easy to find the website for MountainStar Healthcare and finding other information to make sure what they stated was clear. Locating my sources was not the most difficult part of my enterprise story.

I knew that my resources were definitely the best sources for my story since all of my sources are on the front lines of helping, seeing, and understanding the impact that St. Mark’s has given to its employees to ensure that they are not going to struggle every day. All of them were very helpful in the interview process of making sure that they answered all the questions I had and also giving me the concrete details to the story. I felt very confident in what they were answering for my story and was successful in writing a full story from the answers that I was able to get during this process. It was nice to be able to interview other frontline workers in the background for many stories. It was amazing to talk straight to the sources knowing they would give me exactly what I needed.

Going into the actual writing process, waiting to get emails back to interview, and making sure I knew exactly what my story was going to be about were just a few of the obstacles that I had during this process. Overall, I knew that eventually everything would work out, but at the time I was worried over all of these things and more. This is my first time ever writing something that is going to be published online and be a news article. Again, trying to interview during a pandemic with a hospital as my resource location was also difficult. I addressed them easily by talking to each source and making sure we did an interview that was comfortable to them and all of them were pretty quick and easy. Then being able to start writing felt pretty easy as well, I had lots of information that I wanted and needed, and I knew I would be able to come up with a professional story.

Given all of the information I gathered, I started to organize it and figure out if there were similarities and find the stuff that added great details to my story. I had to start thinking about my focus of the story; I felt that it was easy to see that I would break it up kind of into three parts around how St. Mark’s is aiding employees during a pandemic with mental, physical, and spiritual aid. There were details of other random things and events that St. Mark’s also has done for the employees, which I added at the end of the middle. I struggled at first figuring out the focus, but going back and finding the key pieces is how I got to finally writing this story and making sure I kept to a straight focus.

My writing process was pretty similar to how I usually write anything, but there were a few different things that I did that helped a lot with writing. When I first sit down to write, I usually try and get the format correct to what I am writing and then going into how to get the reader to read the story and keep an interest. I start going straight into how I feel the story will flow and keep on looking back on the information I have to make sure I am getting everything I need in a correct order. Then going back and reading over and over and having one of my family members look it over or a friend toward the end. This time however, I had my mom look over it when I was in the middle of writing it.

I was about halfway through when I felt that I couldn’t decipher if I was on a good track or not. Having my mom look it over and help me edit my writing helped me to feel confident that I was writing my story to the best of my ability. I learned that my craft is changing a little bit as I am writing more and more different types of stories. It is good to develop my skills and to ask for help when I am struggling which I used to hate. I am glad that I have been able to learn more about how I write and how to improve my writing.

I felt that I included a lot of my details and information that I got from my interviews into my story, but I didn’t totally include everyone’s feelings around the pandemic and how it has helped people in their departments, but more of a general analysis. I still feel that I got the best information in my writing and there was not much left out for interpretation, which I did not want to happen when reading my story. I was glad to get the information needed and extra for my story and I do not regret making sure all of my questions were answered and seen in my story. I think the only thing that changed was how I thought my story was going to be like, but I did not have a concrete story really in my mind, so it still worked out to a great article.

I was surprised by how the interview process was going to go with how some sources like to get straight to the point of the questions and others will talk about themselves and other details. Neither of these ideas are terrible, but I was surprised at the different techniques and how things just happen randomly during interviews. There is no real set idea that happens with those. I was surprised at how I felt very confident in writing my story and truly felt that I had skills that I did not even know I had. I was glad to have this opportunity to write a story that I truly feel proud of. I know that I still have a long way to go to become a more professional writer, but I felt that this story was a big stepping-stone on becoming a great writer and to be able to do this for a living. I would do this whole process over again just to experience the confidence I felt to write a story to publish for the first time. I hope to do more writing like this in the future.  

ABOUT ME:

I am a sophomore at the University of Utah working toward following my passion for photography, writing, and wanting to make an impact on the world.

Early on in my high school experience, I found a love of taking photos that led to my extracurricular time as the yearbook photo editor for two years. I enjoyed capturing moments whether on the turf of the football field to interviewing my local peers; I felt I was documenting history for those students during my high school career.

When I’m not taking photos or doing school, I enjoy my other interests in fashion, films, beauty care, meditation, and being a consumer of environmentally friendly products. I want to embark on life with truth, passion, and honesty.

My goal is to find a career that brings me joy while also inspiring others. Whether photography and writing become my career or is my weekend hobby, I hope my work will spark passion for others to do what they love.

Thalese Barnes

MY STORY:

Utah branch of Decoding Dyslexia helps empower individuals 

MY BLOG:

When I found out that this article was going to be published, I was terrified! Not in a negative way, but in an empowering way. I was motivated to get my thoughts on paper and express my passion to the reader. I thrive when I am sharing my passions.

I elected to write about a personal issue, dyslexia. I have struggled with dyslexia my entire life. During my research, I came across an article about a mom who became an activist for dyslexia. Her child was dyslexic. She became a voice for her child and other children diagnosed with dyslexia. I was inspired by the power of one’s voice. Dyslexia needs many voices — both loud and soft. People need education around neuro disabilities. The future is bright and hopeful.

Understanding dyslexia has come a long way. A learning network for dyslexia started in 2012. The name of the network is called Decoding Dyslexia.

As I looked more and more into it, I saw that there had been national networking for dyslexia since 2012; the network is called Decoding Dyslexia. By just researching, I knew the direction I wanted my story to go but wasn’t entirely sure where I wanted it to land.

Professor Mangun encouraged me to interview the activist’s mother, Phoebe Beacham, to help me direct this story more. I ended up going to a coffee shop with Beacham and talked with her for two hours. I had so many questions, and she answered so many questions that had been weighing on me for years. She led me to the cofounder of Decoding Dyslexia in New Hampshire and a man here in Utah who is a successful dyslexic.

I focused my article equally on my three interviewees. I wanted the reader to feel the emotion of a person with dyslexia and feel the pain and heartbreak from this disability. At the same time to have hope for the future because of the movement Decoding Dyslexia.

ABOUT ME:

I was born and raised in the red rocks of Southern Utah. I am a lover of life. I love watching any musical, walking my dog, singing at the top of my lungs to Taylor Swift songs, being outdoors and my personal favorite: being around people. I am currently attending the University of Utah, majoring in Communication with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. I enjoy everything about Salt Lake City and the U! The best decision I ever made was to attend the University of Utah. Go Utes! My aim in life is to make the people around me feel comfortable and needed. That will always be my end game in every aspect of my life.

Jack Dalton

MY STORY:

Youth sports and a global pandemic

MY BLOG:

In developing the idea for my story, I wanted to find a way to focus on sports one way or  another, which if you know me well is not a surprise by any means. At first I thought about trying to find a way to write about this past football season. Then I thought about trying to find a way to write about sports in Utah (the Utes, the Jazz, Real Salt Lake). Both ideas seemed both too complex to coordinate and too simple to actually write about.

Finally, I settled on trying to write about my biggest passion, skiing. I thought about trying to write about how the U.S. Ski Team, which is headquartered in Park City, Utah, navigated COVID-19 and the current World Cup Season over in Europe. The other idea that came to mind was sports-related nonprofits. Of course, at that point, the Youth Sports Alliance (YSA) seemed like an obvious choice. After all it’s an organization that means a lot to me personally.  

YSA is an organization I have had some sort of involvement with for a long time. My mom currently works for it, and certainly was part of my reasoning in writing about YSA. But YSA was also highly involved in my own ski career. 

That is how I connected with all of my sources, each of whom are key to YSA. I spoke with the executive director, board president, and a longtime donor/new board member within the organization. They were awesome sources. 

In terms of the actual writing process, I wanted to focus on the pandemic and the effect it had on youth sports in the Park City community. One of the main things I struggled with was simply the wording of questions, considering so many of them were about money or the pandemic one way or another (donations, funding, cancelations, etc.). 

Everyone I spoke with was incredibly generous with their time. Every interaction I had over Zoom was like catching up with an old friend. Oddly when it came time to write my story, I struggled to find quotes and ended up relying on my conversations for more general information and different perspectives. I certainly wish I had asked for more stories and had asked more follow-up questions. 

I learned to appreciate both the writing and interview process and had a ton of fun writing this piece.

ABOUT ME:

Growing up in Park City, Utah, I was pretty much born on skis. I was literally skiing before I was walking. Both of my parents were ski instructors at the time and they put me on skis for the first time at 18 months old. That passion has stuck with me ever since. 

For as long as I can remember my dream as a young ski racer was to race on the FIS World Cup tour and be an Olympian. Eventually, reality set in but my desire to ski and to compete was still there. I raced competitively until I was 18 and starting college at the University of Utah, after dedicating my life to the sport for nearly a decade. To this day it is pretty much all I know. I skied for the University of Utah alpine club team for my first two years of school, before spending the last two seasons coaching for Park City Ski and Snowboard club, the ski team I grew up on. 

It has been so much fun to see the program through a different lens. I love being able to share my knowledge and passion for the sport with the next generation of little shredders. 

In terms of life beyond skiing and sports in general, I am currently a junior at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in Communication with an emphasis in strategic communication. My goal is to work in the world of sports one way or another and put that degree to work. I would love to get into broadcasting and commentary. For the time being, I am beyond happy to continue coaching and my education with plans to graduate in the spring of 2022. 

Houston Fuller

MY STORY:

The world’s greatest snow is melting, and it might not come back

MY BLOG:

My enterprise story’s main focus on climate change in Utah stemmed from my passion for environmentalism and being a citizen of Utah. The pollution found in the Salt Lake Valley is so prevalent and constant that most everyone living here is aware of its harmful effects, so finding sources was easy. I connected with friends and family to see if they knew anyone directly affected by climate change who would be willing to talk about their experience. I think my sources benefitted my story because I was able to get three different perspectives all relating to one issue. I utilized a professional opinion to establish credibility, I interviewed an older adult with health issues that are exacerbated by pollution, and I used the opinion of a student from California to highlight the lack of understanding for climate change outside of Utah. 

Writing my story was mostly smooth sailing, but I think an issue I failed to address was how politics play into the issues I discussed. Politics weren’t a focus of my story, but the Republican majority in Utah’s government plays a large role in the issues we face so I felt like I needed to address it.

The pandemic has slightly affected the amount of emissions found in Utah, but I found that it wasn’t significant enough to mention since most people are back to work and driving normally again. 

My focus came to me after writing ideas I felt were important to my story. I was able to connect these ideas to create a focus on climate change and how it is affecting Utah specifically. Writing this story was honestly very challenging for me because I’m not a great writer to begin with, so writing in a journalistic style proved difficult for me. It was also difficult because one of my sources gave me so much information that I could use for multiple different stories. I had to find what was important to me and write about that, but that was difficult when there was so much interesting information. I wanted to add a section about politics in Utah but couldn’t find a way to fit it into my story effectively without it being distracting or out of place.

Overall, I learned a lot about my writing and what I like and don’t like about it. It mostly taught me that I’m not passionate about journalism and it isn’t one of my strong suits. Interviewing was very difficult for me and connecting the pieces of my story proved even more difficult. While news journalism may not be for me, I have definitely learned a lot of skills that I can utilize in other areas of my life.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah currently studying strategic communication. I am planning on graduating in spring 2022 and hope to use my knowledge of visual rhetoric, public relations, and communication theory in a career relating to social media. In my free time I enjoy producing music, photography, video games, movies, and art.

Miranda Lamb

MY STORY:

Community during COVID: How University of Utah student groups are staying connected

MY BLOG:

I started my freshman year at the University of Utah in the fall of 2019. Now a sophomore, I have spent more of my college experience online due to the COVID-19 pandemic than I have in person. I, like so many others, have lost a lot due to COVID. However, my on-campus connections have been the saving grace during it all.

When considering enterprise story ideas, I decided to highlight on-campus communities and connections in the times of COVID, with hopes to find a silver lining in such hard times, and maybe even help someone find the community they have been looking for.

As a member of Delta Gamma women’s fraternity, I knew the Panhellenic community has been active during the pandemic and that it was a resource worth highlighting. To hear from a perspective much wider than my own, I spoke to Panhellenic President Erin Doyle. She gave me great insight into what the community was doing as a whole rather than just the actions of my own sorority.

I wanted to highlight a diverse range of communities, so next, I spoke to Shelby Hearn at the LGBT Resource Center. I previously did not know much about the services at the center, but after speaking to Hearn I was glad I chose it as a resource. The center has found such creative and engaging ways to help students. It has even started connecting with students in new ways that will likely continue post-pandemic.

One of the biggest and best surprises I encountered during my process was in my interview with BobbiJo Kanter, the associate director of student programs at the Bennion Center. I was worried going into it that I would have to tell stories of the center’s struggles finding people willing to participate in its community service opportunities. Instead, I saw the opposite. It had more students hoping to help than it had places to put them. Wanting to tell a positive story in the light of the pandemic, I was very excited about this.

Once I had gathered my notes, I began to write. I had come up with my headline, “Community during COVID: How University of Utah student groups are staying connected” weeks before. Throughout my interviews and especially in my writing, I kept that as my focus. If it answered that question, then it had a place in my story.

I was finally able to end it exactly as I’d hoped, on a positive note with the quote from Kanter about how despite the difficulty, “This year gave us an opportunity.”

ABOUT ME:

When I was little, I dreamed of being a doctor, then a wizard, then a dentist, then a potter, and everything else in between. The only passion that persisted through it all was writing.

However, that dream has continued to evolve through my time at the University of Utah. I am currently pursuing a degree in quantitative analysis of markets and organizations and a double minor in computer science and writing and rhetoric studies. I have loved learning about such broad topics and seeing how the skills from each area of study complement each other.

I enjoy the breadth of my studies, but I am unsure of exactly where it will lead me. I plan to work as a business analyst, or go to graduate school to get an MBA, or go to law school, become a journalist in any of those fields (assuming becoming a wizard doesn’t work out).

To me, my dream of writing is still relevant no matter what field I go into, as every job (and life as a whole) requires some element of storytelling.

Sky Nelson

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

When first given the assignment, I spent a few good weeks thinking about what I might want to write about. I ultimately decided on how COVID-19 has impacted the live music industry in Utah. I wanted to choose something that I was interested in, and as a musician, I was very curious to find out how local music venues and musicians are doing during this pandemic.

To find sources for my story, I did some research on local venues and read every article I could find about the live music industry written within the last year. Some venues were already featured in news stories, like The State Room in Salt Lake City, and Velour in Provo. These articles sounded similar to one another because music venues are facing similar hardships.

I decided to broaden my scope by reaching out to a local musician, Jordan Saucier, whom I discovered via Instagram and a mutual friend. I also contacted the owner of Keys on Main, which isn’t just a place that holds live performances by local musicians, but a bar as well. My third source was the founder of a nonprofit based in Salt Lake City called Excellence in The Community, which was recommended to me by my professor.

The people I interviewed were great resources for my story. They all were directly affected by the pandemic and because of social distancing mandates, lost a lot of their income. They had to adjust in order to stay afloat while everything was shut down. Additionally, they are members of our community and their struggles should be heard.

I ran into a few obstacles while working with my sources. Some of the people I originally reached out to never responded to my inquiries. One person even scheduled a Skype meeting with me but kept canceling at the last minute. Because I had a deadline, I had to scramble to find another good source.

After speaking with my three sources, I had more than enough information on each of them to write a story. It was difficult to decide what was important for my focus and what was unnecessary information. I even felt a little bad about not putting certain thoughts into the finished story because I learned so many cool things, but not all of it was relevant to the focus of my story.

The actual writing of the story went well. It was hard to figure out what sort of lead would be the most effective, but once that was done, the rest of the story came easily. After the first draft, I had to edit most of it, but it turned out well-focused and readable. I learned that writing comes easily to me, but I have a few habits that aren’t great for news writing, and I will need to refer back to the AP Stylebook to help me.

I felt that Jeff Whiteley, the founder of Excellence in The Community, had a lot of interesting things to say about the organization that I unfortunately could not made work with the focus of my story. The reason for why he started the nonprofit is inspiring, and I think I would like to write a separate piece about the organization and what they are doing to help Utah musicians and the local community.

ABOUT ME:

If I could only use one word to describe myself, it would be the word “creative.”

I am a musician. I’ve been singing all my life and it is my absolute favorite thing to do. I used to be in musicals and piano lessons when I was young, but once I started guitar lessons at the age of 14, I fell in love with the instrument and grew even closer to music. By 15, I was teaching guitar lessons in an after-school program. I didn’t think I was anywhere near qualified enough to teach, but it ultimately helped me become a better guitar student.

After graduating high school in 2016, I started teaching guitar and voice lessons at the studio I took lessons from for six years. I currently have 50 students that I see every week, and I have come to love teaching almost as much as I love making playlists.

I will be releasing my first single this year. It’s amazing to see a song I wrote for fun one day turn into a professionally produced single, and I’m very excited about it. I hope releasing this song leads me to more opportunities in the music industry.

Lauren Lloyd

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

Due to the pandemic, for the past year I have been spending a lot more time on social media to keep myself entertained. I noticed that this habit began to take a toll on my self-esteem. The unrealistic beauty standards that the media shoved down my throat exhausted me. These platforms exposed me to an overwhelming number of posts that objectified women and I realized what a problem this is in our society. 

Recently, I started following more women who were posting about body positivity and I began to feel a shift in my perspective toward my appearance. Seeing women who demonstrated that all bodies are beautiful, and that it is natural to have stretch marks, cellulite, acne and pudge immensely improved my self-image. These women inspired the topic for my story because I wanted to share the body positivity movement with other girls who are weighed down by the insecurities social media cultivates. 

When I started devising sources for this story, I thought of the content creators who had helped me cope with my own insecurities. Ever since middle school, Tyler Feder’s illustrations have helped me accept my body and learn to love myself. I venerated her and her work for such a long time, so I was ecstatic when she agreed to do an interview with me. Hearing about her journey was inspirational, and I wanted to share Feder’s story with other women so they could benefit from her wisdom.

I also wanted to interview one professional who had expertise in feminism and communication, and one student who was passionate about women’s issues. I think Robin Jensen and Jess Wojciechowski were the perfect individuals for my story. Jensen was able to eloquently verbalize the issues with the portrayal of women on social media. She validated the struggles young women face in an academic manner. I thought it was powerful for women to have their feelings and experiences validated by a scholar. 

As for my interview with Wojciechowski, she had similar experiences as I did while growing up in the age of social media. It was difficult not to insert myself in the piece because of my passion for the body positivity movement. Luckily, Wojciechowski was able to provide the perspective of how harmful it was to grow up without the body positivity movement, and how transformative it was to find it during adulthood. This phenomenon is something I sought to illustrate, but I did not want to speak about my own experiences.

It surprised me that an interview could feel friendly and inviting. I thought the interview process was going to be daunting, but all my sources were lively, open and engaging. I felt connected to all my interviewees, and I thoroughly enjoyed talking to them. After interviewing my sources, I was ready to outline my story. It was painful to only use a fraction of the information I obtained from my interviews. Frankly, I could have written my senior thesis with the abundance of material I had on the topic. In the end, the main sentiments I wanted to express were that the efforts of the body positivity movement are vital for young women’s self-esteem and there is still a lot more to conquer in terms of ensuring women feel valued.

ABOUT ME:

Photo by Amanda Alice Photography

I am a sophomore at the University of Utah studying communication with an emphasis in journalism, and French. After I graduate, I will be pursuing a master’s degree in marketing. My passions are writing, feminism, and environmentalism. I am a published writer in Harness Magazine, and I hope to have more articles, and potentially a novel, published during my career. With my writing, I want to spread awareness about women’s issues and illustrate changes that could help dismantle sexism in our society. Art also holds an important place in my life. Traveling to Europe and visiting the plethora of art museums there, specifically the Musée d’Orsay, inspired my love for the French language and art history. In the future, I aspire to work as a marketing director for an art museum.

Yeh-Rhym Cheon

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

One day, my father came home with a box full of masks. I asked him where he got these masks, and he replied that he got them from a friend who runs a company that makes facial sheet masks. This is how I could meet and have an interview with Han-Jong Kim, the CEO of OTK Corp.

After meeting with him, I was curious about the current situation of other companies in South Korea. Hence, I conducted interviews with several people from different small- and medium-sized enterprises.

When recruiting interviewees, I tried to find someone who works in various fields to listen to their different stories. It was not easy to find and contact people from a wide range of career fields. Luckily for me, my acquaintance helped me find interviewees, and I could meet Mrs. Kwak and Ms. Lee.

Now, everyone has become susceptible due to the COVID-19, and I expected there would be interviewees who refuse to have an interview. But unexpectedly, all interviewees kindly answered my questions even though it may have been hard to talk about their business situation.

Overall, this pandemic situation was the main problem. We conducted all interviews over the phone for safety, but it was sad that I could not meet them and hear their stories in person. I believe I would have been able to empathize with their feelings and write down more details. However, I sincerely thank the interviewees for their active support in completing my article successfully.

In this grim situation, I want people to find hope by reading my article. Therefore, I focused on writing on the positive impact of the COVID-19, which is the story of Mr. Kim. I also included stories and resources that illustrate the negative consequences of the epidemic to help readers relate.

It was a challenge for me to write on a topic that everyone was going through. I needed attention and concentration while writing since COVID-19 is a sensitive topic. But, as mentioned above, I did my best to write an article that can give people hope.

As Mr. Kim said at the end of my article, I believe the end of COVID-19 is coming soon, and I cannot wait to see people’s smiles.

ABOUT ME:

The picture was taken in Gangneung in South Korea.

Yeh-Rhym Cheon was born in Albany, New York. When she was 5 years old, she moved with her family to Siheung, South Korea, and has been living in Korea for 19 years.

To continue her English studies, she graduated from Fort Worth Christian School International in Yangju, South Korea.

From the 2017 spring semester, she started to study strategic communication as a major and leadership as a minor at the University of Utah.

After two years of courses at the University of Utah Asia Campus in Songdo, South Korea, she transferred to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to complete her Bachelor of Arts.

Now, she is a senior and is preparing to take the first step towards society. She is still trying to find her dream job. However, music is Yeh-Rhym’s great interest. She loves listening to music and playing a lot of different musical instruments. 

As she is passionate about music, she worked as an audio assistant at the Winter Games 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

She also did an internship for a year at SMiTH Corp, a multi-channel network company. It was her job to manage all of the communication processes between business and music YouTube creators.

Through various opportunities of work experiences, Yeh-Rhym will try her best to find and achieve her happiness.

Abram Berry

MY STORY:

Utah’s thriving religious communities exist right under our noses

MY BLOG:

When it came time to select a topic for my enterprise story, I didn’t have much of a struggle. I set out to write the story that I wanted to read.

I’m part of the local Jewish community, and I’ve spent years feeling like an outsider here in Utah, where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the accompanying culture is the norm. It occurred to me that if I’m feeling this way, then other people from other faiths must be feeling those same pressures.

I sent some emails. I immediately heard back from Rev. Martin Diaz, who arranged for me to go meet him downtown at the beautiful Cathedral of the Madeline. Having never been to a Catholic church before, especially not one that large, it was somewhat of an intimidating experience walking through those big, ornate doors. However, speaking to Diaz made that all go away. He is a warm, kindly man, and I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with him.

Getting in touch with other sources proved to be somewhat difficult. As part of this project, I really wanted to speak with Rabbi Avremi Zippel, because he is Utah’s only rabbi who was born and raised here. He is a rabbi with Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, which is not my synagogue, so I was really looking forward to the opportunity to get to pick his brain. However, it ultimately fell through, since he wasn’t available to speak with me before my deadline.

However, Elana Fauth came through, and I was thrilled to have an in-person conversation with her, where she provided some really valuable insights.

One of the challenges of my writing was attempting to navigate how to write about Judaism for a gentile audience. One would think that I would be better at that, having lived in Utah for most of my life, but trying to communicate about my religion is something that I’m still learning how to do. I have so much to say, and I often don’t even know where to begin.

Through writing this story, I learned a great deal about the different faiths that exist here in Utah. But perhaps more importantly, I have helped to shed light on something that isn’t talked about very much. Hopefully, my piece will inspire others to reach out and start having those conversations.

ABOUT ME:

I am from Sandy, Utah, and I currently live at home with my wonderfully supportive family. After graduating from Alta High School in 2020, I came to the University of Utah to study journalism, with the ultimate goal of becoming an investigative reporter.

Photo courtesy of Phillip Berry.

In addition to my work in journalism, I have a background in musical theater, which I pursued for a number of years before starting my university work. I was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Utah High School Musical Theatre Awards for my role as the Earthworm in “James and the Giant Peach.”

In my spare time, I enjoy watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and engaging in discussions about pop culture.

Danny Baeza

MY STORY:

An inside look at the University of Utah’s baseball program

MY BLOG:

When it comes to my enterprise story, I used a long writing process.

To begin I was tasked with developing a story idea. I knew right away that I wanted to write about sports, the only problem being that I didn’t know which sport to write about.

My first idea that I pitched was titled, “The life of a student athlete in a pandemic.” However I quickly decided that writing about baseball was more my speed.

This being said I came up with a similar behind-the-scenes type of story and titled it, “An inside look at the University of Utah’s baseball program.”

Once I decided on this story I began to look for sources. I already knew many of the athletes on the team and asked them who they believed would have the best insight. Once I received their answers I contacted my potential interviewees.

I received confirmation from Christopher Rowan Jr., Justin Kelly, and Director of Operations Logan Nehls on if they were willing to be interviewed. I then set up times to meet with each of them.

These three candidates were perfect fits for my story, as they each had an interesting point of view on the program. Rowan is a utility player, while Kelly is a pitcher. However, Nehls was more of a logistical viewpoint.

Luckily each of my interviewees was able to meet in person. During our interviews we followed COVID-19 guidelines in order to maintain a safe environment.

Once I had gathered all the information I needed, it was time to start putting together the puzzle. I decided that the most important aspects of my interviews were the day to day schedule, and how the players manage to push through.

Most stories on athletics speak on the physical side of sports, I, on the other hand, wanted to speak on the mental side of sports. I decided I wanted to include how both Rowan and Kelly survived their season-ending injuries.

I ended up not using most of my interview, because it wouldn’t have flowed as well.

I was surprised at how much I was able to leave out, while also writing a well thought out story at the same time. 

Overall my experience with preparing and writing a story like this was exciting and grueling at the same time. Nevertheless, when the story was completed I felt a great sense of satisfaction in how far I’ve come.

ABOUT ME:

I grew up in South Jordan, Utah, however, I was born in Los Angeles. I have lived in Utah for 15 out of my 21 years, but am still more accustomed to the warm weather. Even so, I’ve come to love the beautiful state I call home. 

I grew up as an athlete, playing many sports, but loved none more than baseball. Being an athlete taught me to strive to be the best version of myself at all times, and to compete in everything I do. Not only did it teach me to compete, but to also be willing to work with others, and to be open-minded. 

Along with sports my passions include music and film. I am constantly adding to my record collection or creating new playlists.

I graduated from Jordan High School in Sandy, Utah, in 2018, spending four great years there, and making many great friends along the way. I originally entered the University of Utah as a kinesiology major, with dreams of being a physical therapist.  However, in the spring of 2021, I made the switch to journalism. I made this switch because I find writing to be an outlet, especially when it comes to writing about my passions. 

I hope to one day work for a major athletic organization. Using the tools I’ve learned in life, and in the classroom to my advantage. I am motivated as I start my journey toward reaching this dream.

Brooke Williams

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

Finally, a snowy Sunday morning with a book and a cup of coffee. I felt butterflies — or maybe snowflakes — fluttering in my stomach with every sip. Maybe winter wasn’t so bad.

It was difficult to read when all I could think about was the fact that days were getting longer and warmer, yet this was only the first real winter snow that I could appreciate. I began to understand seasonal depression on a new level. It had been a long and dark winter in the midst of a global pandemic; getting out of bed was something to be proud of.

As I took pictures of unique flakes on my black fleece jacket, my mind raced through thoughts about my mental health and the community — how I couldn’t possibly be the only one thinking this — and then it hit me. After a tiring dry winter in the desert, we must be in for an even longer, drier summer.

In a panic I began researching and Googling what it meant, looking for any sign of hope. I found that the local snowpacks that the state and greater community rely on were at about half the level they should be.

In the past, Utah experienced drought and water restrictions, but never seemed to have pressing concerns. I guess it’s not the first dry winter this desert has seen. I knew there had to be more to it, something bigger and more long term.

That’s when I decided to do what I do best and dig deeper and write a story. After all, I fell in love with journalism because of the investigation and learning it has to offer. I started with local resources like Weber Basin Water (Darren Hess) and some of the environmental professors at my university (Paul Brooks). I scored interviews with them and discussed much about what the drought means for us today. Brooks directed me to one of the best sources I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing — Jaimi Butler, a professor at Westminster College and an avid Great Salt Lake researcher.

Jaimi and I spoke over the phone while she picked up her kid from school, she told me stories of her personal experiences on the lake and what it means to her, and she gave me the concrete details I needed for my story. She taught me that the repeated seasons of drought combined with the way our irrigation and water storage works was having a lasting impact on the Great Salt Lake. She went on about the many ways it is important that we save the lake, and compared it with horror stories from California, how Los Angeles managed to drain a nearby salt lake for all it had and resulted in an inhabitable area surrounding the dry lake bed.

It goes without saying that this really made me sad. I wanted to raise awareness and be part of the change that could save the valuable Great Salt Lake. We discussed what I could do, what average citizens could do, and ultimately what needs to be done, as seen in the published story.

From there it all made sense and writing the story was a breeze. Each interviewee seemed so passionate about what they do. The way Brooks spoke of his childhood fascination with water, how it is essential to quite literally everything, really struck me. I found a new appreciation for the ones who make it all possible while Hess gave me an idea of just how much work goes into the water from our taps. And Butler inspired me with her vast range of expertise and knowledge and willingness to share it with me at any cost. It was clearly a very important issue to each of them.

I was able to do a lot with this story opportunity. I feel so lucky to be in this field; not everyone gets to learn from and talk to the incredible people I find out there. Stories like these just make me want to change the world, and I love that I can use my passion and profession to do my part.

Besides the story, I found my own new passion and even plan on going to some events concerning the Great Salt Lake in the near future! Jaimi connected me with some brilliant people across Utah who hold “salty seminar” conferences, educating the public and hosting educational activities in an effort to create a better future for the lake. I plan on attending some events with the Steampunk Academy, including movie screenings and hands-on experiences with the lake. I encourage readers to check out the Salty Seminars, the Salty Sirens on Facebook, and Steampunk Academy. It sounds like they have some pretty cool events and I already know their community is so welcoming.

ABOUT ME:

I truly believe there is something extra in the ordinary. 

Something crazy about this existence we are in is that we can never stop learning. There’s always something to notice or a different perspective to envision.

I’ve always felt like an outcast, but I realize that’s exactly what “normal” is. Everyone has unique experiences, thoughts, stories. And we have so much to learn from each other. 

I want to introduce people to some of these extraordinary stories that are outside of the highlights that catch people’s attention. I want to bring to light the stories that no one hears about and find them the appreciation they deserve. I think as we learn about the secrets hidden in plain sight, we will have a better understanding of the way things are. Maybe one day being more aware of our surroundings on a deeper level just might change the world, or at least make someone’s day, which is good enough for me. 

Matthew Grant

MY STORY:

How has remote education affected some University of Utah students?

MY BLOG:

Hello everybody, I am Matthew Grant and I have been working on a story regarding the pandemic and the implications it has caused on your education. With that question, I have conducted a few interviews to see where students stand on the current pandemic, and if they think they are receiving a fair education when universities have changed so much to work around such. 

When I was first tasked with this project I originally had a completely different idea; but admittedly I overestimated myself and struggled to find applicable and accessible sources. With that being said I went with a more convenient topic and something that I felt would correlate well to my surroundings and the University of Utah. 

I reached out to an original source through a list of people that I was in a class with. I had liked their responses on prior assignments and thought they would be an interesting choice. I found another source through a co-worker who had been talking about the implications with COVID-19 and an education — which conveniently was exactly what I was looking for. My final source was someone who I had met when I was going through the study abroad process — unfortunately I was unable to go but was capable of reaching out to him because of so. 

I believed they were the best for my story because they were all very diverse from one another and were at completely different spots in their education and ultimately lives. I was a bit worried I may step on some people’s toes with a controversial take or question. Fortunately I found middle ground with all my sources and ultimately agreed with almost everything they had to say. 

Obviously I couldn’t go out and about to find sources like I may have been able to had a pandemic not been prevalent. However, I was able to reach out to my sources via cell phone and eventually FaceTime. I found people were busier than normal because of problems that the pandemic had imposed on people’s lives. With that being said, It was tough to find times that would work for the two of us to FaceTime and what not. All in all we just had to schedule and reschedule a few times before it all worked out. 

This has been my first real reporting process and it has been both fun and challenging. There is so much information to be asked and gathered that it can at times be overwhelming to keep up with your sources and the incoming information. I think that was the part I struggled most with and that I found noticeable in my story. I found that I would waver back and forth between certain points and it would sometimes differ from my original thesis or questions. So with that being said I tried to stay consistent with my questions and loop back around to the original focus.

Through and through the entire process has been exciting. It is interesting to see the information come to actual fruition and compare the different sources. Though it has also been tough in the way to make it sound like a story and not just reciting the information that I gathered. 

ABOUT ME:

Matthew Grant was born and raised in sunny San Diego until moving to Park City, Utah, at the age of 8. Promptly following his family’s move to Utah, Matt immediately fell in love with the sport of snowboarding.

From the age of 8 to 17, Matt devoted an essential amount of time to his snowboarding career. In fact, Matt received a reformed school schedule in order to have the winters off to pursue and meet the travel needs that came with his competitive snowboarding path.

Snowboarding taught Matt invaluable lessons on and off the snow. Whether it was indulging in foreign cultures while traveling abroad, or simply learning how to accept a loss with his head held high, these lessons will continue to shape him into the virtuous character he is today. 

Matt’s life took an unprecedented turn when deciding to come to college and ultimately at the University of Utah. It was the first time since the seventh grade that he had been back in a classroom with other academic peers — and that was far from the beginning.

While cliff jumping in Lake Powell during the fall of his freshman semester, Matt had a freak accident resulting in an erupted aorta artery (the aorta is the main artery that carries blood away from your heart to the rest of your body). This left Matt in critical condition, requiring him to be transferred to three different hospitals via four separate life flights. Amazingly enough, from the heroic friends and doctors at the University of Utah, Matt was coined a “miracle” and fortunately woke up with no further complications.

Since that accident in 2017, Matt has continued to study his education at the University of Utah where he is currently studying communication with an emphasis in journalism.

In addition to his full time school schedule, Matt also works as a construction worker under his dad’s company. What started as a necessity for money, has now turned into an indispensable trade and love that he hopes to put forth in later endeavors. 

In Matt’s free time, he enjoys the outdoors as much as anyone, constantly planning the next trip and seizing every ounce of daylight that comes with each day. He continues to snowboard as much as he can, while also becoming an avid golfer and motorcycle rider. 

His love for the outdoors and sports world can be seen outside of his physical capabilities — regularly spending time reading, writing, and sharing all things sports and media related. 

Matt acknowledges his fortunes, and is a firm believer that he has done, and seen more in 21 years than most will get to do in a lifetime. Through these experiences he has developed invaluable lessons and characteristics that will be indispensable to his educational and professional career moving forward. 

Madison Kuledge

MY STORY:

• How US public schools are lacking with the teaching of history regarding race

MY BLOG:

I have to begin by saying that this story was enjoyable for me to write. I learned a lot about my writing style, I learned new aspects about our education system and I improved my interviewing skills. 

This story idea came to me in August when I was an intern writing for Deseret News. My days started by searching the internet for the trending news stories of the day and I came across a story about a recent episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.” He pointed out “the embarrassing gaps” in the U.S. public education system with how history was taught regarding race. This got me thinking and I presented the idea to my editor and he liked it but said it was too controversial for our site. I then put the idea away until this class and thought that it was the perfect time to revisit this idea. 

For my sources, I knew I wanted to talk to people who are a part of the system — teachers, school board members, students, parents, anyone I could find with a connection to the public education system. Thankfully with the help of some connections and some emails I found two high school U.S. history teachers, a former student of the Utah public education system and a parent with kids who attend public school, all of whom were willing to answer my questions. 

My sources gave me all such good information to use and I wish I could’ve used it all. I learned how much there is to write about this topic and how it can be extended much further. Despite the plethora of information, I focused on the common themes that emerged from each interview and focused the article around those topics because those seemed to be important and what was cared about (not to say the other aspects aren’t important). 

Madison standing beside the Thames River in December 2019.

Throughout writing this story I learn a lot about my writing style and branched out of my comfort zone. When it comes to writing articles I tend to “report the news” using attributions and sources to write an informative piece. However, for this piece, I needed to rely on my interviews to tell a story, which was something new for me. After many drafts and rewriting things I finally found a piece that I believed flowed and told the story that I wanted to convey. 

If given the opportunity in the future I would love to extend this piece and add more information from my interviews and conduct more research into the numbers surrounding the topic. 

One thing that stuck with me from talking to AP U.S. history teacher Andrew Platt was the amount of work that teachers put into the education of students. There are many aspects that contribute to the lessons that are taught in the classroom. He said, “No, I do not think our students are receiving the education they deserve. Our schools are underfunded. Teachers are overburdened with responsibilities and classes that are too big. We do not have the support we need. We need smaller classes, but this involves hiring more teachers. We also need more funding for things like books and computers. Also, I strongly believe that history teachers need more education in history and less in pedagogy.” 

ABOUT ME:

Madison is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and came to the University of Utah for her love of skiing. She is a fourth-year communication major with an emphasis in journalism and minors in German, geography and documentary studies. Her passion for writing has always been a thing, yet, she didn’t know that she wanted to make it her career until she had spent a year studying cell and molecular biology and found out she had no idea what she was going to do with her degree. She has worked with Deseret News as an intern and plans to write with Her Campus Utah during the spring semester. Madison has a strong desire to travel and write about the world around her. After graduating in the spring of 2021, she plans on moving to London, England, to pursue a career in journalism aiming to work with Formula 1. 

Darienne DeBrule

MY STORY:

How teachers are handling the Coronavirus pandemic

MY BLOG:

Working at my job at Dutch Bros. Coffee I have the opportunity to talk to hundreds of people a day. During one of my shifts I decided to ask every person who came to the window how the COVID-19 virus was impacting their job. Every teacher I talked to at the window had a similar experience. It made me ponder why all the media attention is focused on keeping students safe and their experience at school, but not focused on keeping teachers safe and their experience. That is when I got the idea to tell the school coronavirus story from the teacher’s perspective. 

My biggest challenge was finding sources because many teachers were apprehensive to talk about their experience negatively out of fear of backlash from administration and the districts. Luckily, I was able to set up interviews with three individuals who trust me. I told them beforehand if they thought any of the questions were too controversial I would leave it off the record. I was surprised by how much information I was able to receive to make my story interesting and informative, but not controversial. It was apparent how much love each of them has for their students and teaching and that they are willing to take the necessary steps to ensure kids are getting a good education even in a global pandemic. Amber Rogers was my favorite teacher in high school and it made my day to be able to catch up with her and talk about the current state of the world. We spent the last few minutes of our Zoom call talking about politics, off the record, of course. 

Photo courtesy of Taiyah Trimiar

I struggled to write my story because I was conflicted about how to organize it. I did not know if I wanted to organize it by highlighting each source individually or by the dilemmas teachers have faced this year. Ultimately, I chose to organize it by dilemma, starting with things that occurred at the beginning of the school year and adding the rest of the information chronologically. I am proud of this story and how it turned out and when my sources read it, I hope they are pleased with how they are represented.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah studying journalism, political science, and economics. I spend my time being the host of a podcast called “White-Washed,” available on Apple and Spotify, in which I talk about anything from race relations to news, pop culture, and more. I have interned at Chicks Into Sports in Atlanta and KUER in Salt Lake City. I want to use my experience being a minority and underrepresented as inspiration to share the stories of people who are often overlooked or need someone to be their voice. Growing up biracial has also made me want to understand both sides of every story, argument, and debate because I do not believe life is as solid of a dichotomy as it is made out to be.

On the side I run my own jewelry business called D by Darienne and specialize in chain jewelry. Upon graduation I hope to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and become a news anchor. My ultimate goal is to become a United States Senator. A fun fact about me is I skipped a grade growing up, so I have always been younger than my classmates and friends.

Taylor Thornton

MY STORY:

The Mbaki brothers: Studying abroad in Utah

MY BLOG:

When I was in elementary school, my mother set up different “stations” in the basement with posters and infographics about countries worldwide. I was so intrigued by the differences I found there that it led me to look for international opportunities later on in life.

One of those opportunities was an evangelical trip to South Africa. There I was exposed to such a rich culture and history that I was overwhelmed. I came to make several friends and connections that will last a lifetime.

Several of my friends in South Africa have migrated to America. As I pondered what I could report on, I began to question the immigration process my friends went through, especially during the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

I immediately called my friend, Lawrence Mbaki, and asked him about his experiences coming to America. I was intrigued by his story, and I knew I had found my enterprise story lead.

He referred me to the departments that helped him move to America and find educational opportunities. I spoke with Jamie Orton of the International Scholar and Student Services Office at Southern Utah University. I gathered much information and began my writing process.

This process involved several phone calls to my friend Lawrence and his brother Kevin. We had many conversations about their experiences and the setbacks they’ve encountered. Many of our discussions led me to research more about national and state policies regarding international students.

My research presented me with a lot of material that became hard to narrow down into an intriguing story. Much of the material was factual and could be interpreted as dull if I didn’t present it correctly. My challenge became articulating the information I had found into a story that compelled readers to keep reading.

Through many silent sessions at my desk, I gained inspiration about how to voice the story I had gathered. After a few drafts, I finished putting together the story of Lawrence and Kevin Mbaki and their experience coming to America.

ABOUT ME:

I grew up in Salt Lake City. As the second to last child, I had a lot of freedom to express my creativity since my mother had gotten used to three high energy children by the time I was born. 

When I was young, I was always finding something creative to do. Whether I was painting the old computer in the basement, rearranging the living room furniture into a fort, or taking pictures of my little sister in front of my neighbors’ garage doors, I was always busy. My favorite creative pursuit, however, was writing. 

My passion for communication and creative writing led me to an opportunity to attend college full time after my sophomore year. I left my high school world behind and began my pursuit of higher education.

I am currently in my junior year studying strategic communication at the University of Utah. I am employed as an office assistant for Berkshire Hathaway Homes in Salt Lake City.

Jane Kremer

MY STORY:

Project Homeless Connect: COVID-19 changed its plans, but not its commitment

MY BLOG:

After considering which topics I would want to cover for the enterprise story, my interests focused on Project Homeless Connect. Project Homeless Connect is a nonprofit organization that holds annual service events for those experiencing homelessness in Salt Lake County. After my family got involved and started volunteering in 2019, I found a deeper interest in PHC. The foundation of this story idea was shaped through those initial experiences. 

Through developing the story, many of the sources I interviewed were contacts I had made through my volunteering experience. Those whom I didn’t have contact information for, I was able to find through the website, or by asking through the contacts I already had. The sources I used were Mike Akerlow, executive director for PHC in Salt Lake City, and Nicole Handy and Natalie Clawson who are the logistics coordinators for PHC. These were the best sources for this story, as Akerlow highlighted the origins and experiences of PHC while Handy and Clawson were able to give specific details of what their events would look like this year compared to previous years.

Each source had something different to offer. Akerlow described how PHC came to Salt Lake City and how each year has improved and changed. He has the unique perspective of bringing the nationwide event to Salt Lake City, creating a steering committee, and shaping the events each year. Handy and Clawson both started their experience with PHC as volunteers, which also gives them the unique perspective of seeing the event from every angle. 

Though there were a lot of different ways I could have written this story, I landed on how COVID-19 has impacted PHC and the course of its service events in 2020. This felt like the most important topic to highlight because of how different the organization’s events would be. While I would have preferred to interview my sources in person, the pandemic prevented this from being possible. My interviews were conducted by phone per the interviewees’ requests, which paved the way for connection issues and the inability to tell facial expressions or mannerisms. Had the pandemic not been an issue this year, I think the story could have gained more small creative details. 

After conducting interviews and research, the focus of the story became clear: showing the origins of Project Homeless Connect and how it will function during a year of nothing but uncertainty. I found this focus primarily through quotes from my sources. Each person I interviewed gave compelling quotes that shaped how I went about crafting this story. I learned that my writing process truly begins after all the dust has settled; after conducting interviews and research, and organizing my notes, the story came to life simply by writing everything down. I went through three different drafts of this story, and the final draft came together after sorting through my quotes and important information to create the story I wanted to tell.

Photo by Alise King

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student at the University of Utah pursuing a degree in Communication, with an emphasis in Strategic Communication and a Applied Positive Psychology certificate. After graduation in the spring of 2022, I plan to further my academic career by earning a master’s degree. I am passionate about reading, writing, and learning about media studies. I am an aspiring communications director with a special emphasis on public relations and marketing. Some of my hobbies include journaling, exercising, cooking/baking, and spending time with my family.

Brynna Maxwell

MY STORY:

Nonprofit organization, Holding Out Help, saving lives and providing hope

MY BLOG:

I developed the idea for my story on Holding out Hope through a friend in my youth group. She had recently started interning at the organization and was telling me about her job. It sounded very interesting and I jumped on the chance to get to know the organization better. Through mutual contacts, I had the chance to interview the intern, Emma Harter, as well as the director of marketing, Cindy Metcalf. I also was given the video interview of an anonymous source who was a victim of polygamy. These sources were the best possible for the story because I got three different points of view. Harter is a young college student who is just trying to make a difference. Metcalf is a veteran of the program who has been on multiple runs to save these women. Last, the anonymous source is a victim and has witnessed and endured the harassment and abuse of a polygamous source.

Throughout my process of writing my article, I encountered a couple of obstacles. First, one of my interviews I had lined up almost backed out because she was afraid people would recognize her name in print. Because of this, I almost lost one of my key sources of information. She ended up changing her mind the day of the interview, but it was still a stressful experience. The other obstacle was getting a source who was a victim of polygamy. I was never available to meet any of them. However, someone else was able to conduct an interview and I was able to get information through a video. The pandemic caused zero problems, and I was able to meet in person for the majority of the interviews. During those interviews, I was very surprised by how blunt everyone was about the horrors that happened inside of polygamous communities. Everyone was very honest and vulnerable, and it was amazing to me how open they were about it all.

The interviews provided a lot of information and it was difficult to organize it all. I listened to the interviews again and took notes about what each person said. I then grouped those notes together according to their similarities. I also took notes during the interview and grouped the answers the questions I asked into groups. My writing process was very straightforward. I took notes on interviews and researched the organization beforehand. I then dissected the interviews that I recorded and added them to my notes. I then wrote a rough draft of my article based on those notes.

An interesting story is as I was finishing up my interview process, I noticed a table where Holding Out Help accepted donations. I just so happened to have a bag of clothes in my car I was going to give to Goodwill, and I was able to donate them instead to HOH. It felt really good to help the organization out in some small way.

ABOUT ME:

Photo courtesy of Becca Jonas and Utah Women’s Basketball

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I have always had a love for writing. I grew up in a small town about an hour away from Seattle and graduated from Gig Harbor High School. When not writing, I fill my time playing basketball, writing in my journal, petting my cat, and going on adventures. You can almost always see me hiking up a mountain.

I am currently a sophomore attending the University of Utah and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. Basketball has led me to experience a lot of amazing things, including being shown on TV. Those experiences helped me understand my passion for sports broadcasting and journalism which, hopefully, I can find a lasting career in once I graduate.

Dylan Valerio

MY STORY:

Beehive Sport and Social Club coming up on 10-year anniversary 

MY BLOG:

While choosing a topic for my enterprise story, I wanted to pick a topic that I would be really interested in so that it would be more fun to write. My first thought went directly to music because it’s something that I’m passionate about and love to talk about. I searched for upcoming musical events in the Salt Lake City area and found nothing. I then proceeded to search for any music-related topics in the area, but I feel like because of the pandemic there wasn’t anything available. 

I accepted that I would have to do my story on another topic. So for the next few days I researched any upcoming events in Salt Lake City to write about. Everything that I viewed just didn’t feel right — I needed the perfect topic. Then I started to think about another one of my passions that I could write about and the idea of doing a sport-related topic came to me.

I was worried that I would run into the same trouble I had with my music idea and at first I did. The pandemic had closed down all sporting events and leagues. I was ready to give up, but decided to try one more thing. I typed in the search bar, “adult sports leagues in Salt Lake City,” and only one came up, Beehive Sports and Social Club.

I went to the website and clicked on the “about us” page. As I was reading about the club and its founder, Dave Marquardt, I knew I had found my topic. Even though Beehive was shut down, I felt like I could write about the club and how it has handled the pandemic.

I wanted to write a story that people would find not just interesting, but also useful. Beehive was both because it offers a way to meet new people, have fun, and stay active. I felt like a lot of students at the University of Utah could find it helpful, especially during the pandemic when new students weren’t able to go out and have a great college experience.

I also really related to Dave Marquardt’s story and how he felt when he started Beehive, but I wanted to know more. He had an email address listed on the website and I sent him a message requesting an interview. Thankfully, Marquardt agreed and gave me a great interview full of very useful information on how Beehive got started and dealt with the pandemic. However, because of the pandemic, I couldn’t do any in-person interviews so I was forced to call him.

Marquardt also led me to my next interview with the cofounder of Beehive, Jimmy Accettura. I obtained his email from Marquardt and repeated the process. For this interview, I asked Accettura if he would rather do it over the phone or via email. He said that email would be easier for him and so I sent him my questions and had him send me back his responses. Even though it was through email, I was still able to get a lot of great and useful information from him.

I still needed one last interview and it took me a while before I figured out where to get it from. At this point, I knew that I had information from the creators of Beehive so I wanted to get information from someone who participated in the leagues. I didn’t feel comfortable asking Marquardt or Accettura for just one random person in their leagues to interview so I tried finding someone on my own. I went to Beehive’s Instagram page and messaged four people who were tagged in posts. 

It took a while, which made me nervous, but finally Ryan Chisolm messaged me back. It was pretty late and my due date was coming up, so I quickly put together some questions for Chisolm to polish the information for my story. His interview gave me good insight on what it’s like participating in one of Beehive’s leagues.

Once I had all my interviews done, I had a pretty strong idea of how I wanted to structure and organize my story. Both Marquardt and Accettura gave me so much good information that it was hard deciding what to put in and what to leave out. However, the information they gave me was really similar which made it easier to include as much as I could.

My plan was to start off writing about how Marquardt and Accettura first got Beehive started and then flow into what makes it such a great organization. Then I planned to go into how the men first dealt with the pandemic and how they are currently handling it. Finally, I wanted to end my story by focusing on Beehive’s upcoming 10-year anniversary and how Marquardt and Accettura have kept their club going all that time.

I was pretty confident when I submitted my rough draft and felt like I had a solid story. After receiving feedback from Professor Mangun I found out even though I had a good rough draft, that I could still polish my story to make it better. I had some organizational issues and things that weren’t in AP style that I had to fix.

Overall, I feel like writing this story improved me as a writer and made me learn a new form and way to write for an audience. This was the first news story I ever had to write, so it was difficult to adapt to AP style. I also wasn’t used to writing interview questions or conducting interviews. I’m grateful that I got to learn all these new writing tools to add to my arsenal and that I got to do it on an organization that is run by great people who are extremely friendly and welcoming. 

ABOUT ME:

I grew up in Moab, Utah, and even though the red rocks hold a special place in my heart, I’ve always looked for something bigger. This desire led me to start my college career at Colorado Mesa University in 2017. After my freshman year at CMU, I still felt like I could grow and expand more. I talked to my family and friends and ultimately came to the decision to transfer to the University of Utah and move to Salt Lake City.

Now, after two years at the U, I am working toward my degree and a job in either public relations or marketing. My whole life, I’ve always been drawn to use my creative abilities to write and create documents. My time at the U has strengthened my ability to write, expanded my knowledge of different styles of writing, and taught me different ways to reach an audience. My journey is far from finished, but I’m excited to continue my education and improve my writing ability.

Outside of school, I like to use my free time being around friends, watching movies, listening to music, and watching sports. I’m a die-hard fan of the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Broncos. My favorite genre of music to listen to is rap, with Drake being my favorite artist. 

Overall, I’m grateful for how my life has turned out so far and I’m excited to see what it still has in store for me. I appreciate everyone who has helped me throughout my life including family, friends, teachers, and my peers.  

Hannah Carlson

MY STORY:

Branches to bottles — A guide to Utah’s first hard cider distillery

MY BLOG:

I was inspired to write my enterprise story about Mountain West Hard Cider after visiting the distillery for the first time back in September. 

Prior to visiting Mountain West, I had never tasted authentic hard cider and my curiosity was unmatched. Being newly of drinking age, I hadn’t yet experienced a fair variety of liquor. I felt that I needed to find my drink. You know, my go-to, something I could always keep in the fridge and swear by to others. 

After some research, I found Mountain West and within days I was visiting the distillery with my boyfriend. 

It was fascinating. We sampled different ciders, asked questions, and learned so much about hard cider. The staff was friendly, thoughtful, and clearly passionate about their product.

Ultimately, I was inspired by Mountain West’s dedication to the team’s craft, their strong sense of community, and the distillery’s unique position in Utah’s liquor industry.

After approaching Jennifer Carlton about the idea of my enterprise story, she agreed to help me gather additional information and sources. I feel lucky to have worked with such a cooperative and helpful organization during my first publishable story.

As I began writing about Mountain West, my enterprise story was writing itself. After all, I wasn’t writing a new story for Mountain West, I was simply sharing its story and thoughtfully putting the pieces of each source together as one.

Throughout the writing process, I had a difficult time condensing my work down into one meaningful and impactful story. I wanted so badly to share every fascinating detail and every humorous quote I was given from the Mountain West team. I quickly realized that wasn’t sustainable. At the rate I was going, I was going to have a 20-page story on my hands within hours. 

Eventually, I was able to trim and condense my story into something much slimmer yet still jam-packed with interesting information. 

Overall, I am extremely proud of my story and the work I have put into it.

Working with Mountain West was an honor and lucky for me, I also found my new go-to drink along the way.

ABOUT ME:

Hannah Carlson (she/her) is a current communication and business student. Carlson began her studies at the University of Utah in 2017 as a business marketing major, later switching her degree to strategic communication. The switch began after Carlson stumbled upon her newfound interest in writing after taking a media writing course. She is on track to graduate from the university in the spring of 2021 with a minor in business and a bachelor of science degree in strategic communication. 

Next spring, Carlson has set to expand her writing abilities through various writing-intensive, journalism, and professional editing courses. She will also join the university’s Her Campus chapter as a team writer while continuing as the chapter secretary of the university’s Public Relations Student Society of America. 

Post-graduation, she is excited to pursue a profession in news writing or public relations.

Carlson’s ultimate goal, however, is to make a positive difference in her community through her writing.