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. 

Katya Benedict

MY STORY:

How three Salt Lake City women are fighting modern day gender inequalities with their social media platform, Fluence

MY BLOG:

When considering topics for my enterprise story I looked into what currently affected my day-to-day life. I knew when approaching this subject, I wanted it to be something I was passionate about, and something that I had a hand in. I am currently interning at Fluence, the company I chose to write about. Serving as an intern who specializes in content writing and media strategy, I have gotten to see firsthand the amount of change this company is able to create.

Since I worked as an intern for nearly seven months, I already had a bit of an inside perspective into how the platform is run. However, my experience was strictly limited to content writing and media strategy, and I wanted to gather information I hadn’t been exposed to as an intern. It wasn’t difficult to schedule interviews with the three founders, and I believed them to be the three best sources since each of their personal experiences led to the development of this brand. Their collective stories led them to have the same goals and passions, and brought the platform to what it is today. The angle I took in my story, and the information I utilized had not been given to me prior to my scheduled interviews. 

Moral and ethical dilemmas are something the brand deals with on the daily. Since their company is based on women’s issues and progression, political views always arise in the comments of their videos. However, I chose to leave that information out of my story since it wasn’t the angle I was hoping to take, and maintain a more neutral perspective.

Photo courtesy of Joanne Distaso.

Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t able to hold my interviews in person, and instead had to hold them on FaceTime. Although not ideal, this wasn’t very difficult, and actually saved a significant amount of time.

After holding all three interviews, I decided to focus on their shared experiences, and how this influenced their goals. Each founder’s stories were inherently different, but when looked at side-by-side, it became easier to distinguish the similarities. I wanted to reach beyond the logistics of the company and into the emotional pulls that led them to starting this business. 

The only part of the writing process in which I struggled was ordering and separating paragraphs. I knew the focus of my story, but breaking it down into concise paragraphs was where I had the most difficulty.

The founders told me a few anecdotes during the interview process that I wish I would’ve been able to include in the story. Each of the anecdotes centered around sexist experiences in the workplace, but would’ve either taken up too much time or led my story off course.

Overall, I’m really glad I chose the topic that I did. Although I did have insight and knowledge regarding the company, writing this story helped me learn an entirely new perspective. Looking through the founders’ lens allowed me to perceive the brand in an entirely different light, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece.

ABOUT ME:

Storytelling is my passion.

I think a big portion of who we are is determined by the stories we are told. 

I’m currently a junior at the University of Utah, pursuing a degree in communication with a minor in creative writing. Growing up, I spent a large amount of time in front of the camera, but soon realized the real magic actually happens on the other side. This realization is what led me to wanting to become a screenwriter. Storytellers have the opportunity to entertain, educate, and inspire, something that is often overlooked. My professional goal is to work in a writers’ room, developing stories that can change people’s lives, whether they realize it or not. 

Alexis Perno

MY STORY:

Grief work: the process of loss against a backdrop of chaos

MY BLOG:

The process that birthed my story was relatively short given my proximity to the medical field both growing up and now. Recently, I’ve found myself writing about the local hospital COVID-19 response for The Daily Utah Chronicle. With that beat in mind, my next train of thought came naturally to me: I’ve written about the medical experience within the context of the pandemic several times, but what about the mass grieving that comes with it? 

After a few conversations with colleagues and some Google searching, I found my sources and conducted interviews. While I was able to interview Francis Mortensen of Serenicare in person, my conversation with Shanna Beesley about her Zoom funeral service for her mother happened, ironically, on Zoom. Both conversations were insightful and emotionally powerful, but it was difficult to conduct such a personal interview through a virtual platform: just another reminder of the ways human connection has had to adapt. 

I struggled to find a third source. Email after email went ignored. First, I tried to contact grief counselors, eager to work their expertise into my article. When that fell through, I turned to the funeral home Shanna Beesley visited for her mother also to no avail. Next was Utah’s state epidemiologist and the Utah Health Department, which failed again. Upon Professor Kimberley Mangun’s advice, I then reached out to the Utah Funeral Directors Association and received a promising reply — until suddenly there was no contact, even after repeated reminders. 

Finally, in a bit of a long shot, I turned to the National Funeral Directors Association. I expected no response, but at the last possible second, NFDA director of public relations Jessica Koth reached out to me and I was able to conduct an email interview. 

I’ve never written something like this story before. As an experienced news writer, I’ve often stuck to the formulaic style of hard news, never straying too far out of my comfort zone — a one-sentence summary lede that answered everything you needed to know about the story right off the bat. Some stories certainly require that style, but I wanted this endeavor to feel as personal as possible; hard news felt just as detached as yet another virtual platform. 

So, with everything in mind, I sat down to write my rough draft — and ended up with over 1,300 words. Details that begged to be included were everywhere at first glance as I explored the story. The story found me. I wrote it not in one order, starting smack-dab in the middle and shifting paragraphs around in a frenzy of creativity. On second thought, the story didn’t just find me. It dragged me in and told me to keep writing, and so I listened. 

Writing “Grief work” was an experiment and a revelation all at once. I hope this story affects you just as powerfully as it did me. 

ABOUT ME:

Alexis Perno is a freshman Communication major specializing in journalism at the University of Utah. With three years of journalism experience and a lifetime of creative writing under her belt, writing has been a passion for as long as Alexis can remember. Her past achievements include awards for her journalistic and creative pursuits at the local, state and national level along with three years of competitive spoken word poetry and a self-published poetry book. Now, Alexis works as an editorial intern for SLUG Magazine while managing her personal poetry brand at www.labryspeaks.com and @labryspeaks on Instagram. You can get in touch with Alexis via her email at labryspeaks@gmail.com

Chandler Holt

MY STORY:

• The University of Utah and COVID-19 

MY BLOG:

The biggest part of everyone’s lives in 2020 has been dealing with and working around COVID-19 so I figured it would be a good talking point in regard to the University of Utah as a whole. Before setting up the interviews, I decided to look for professors and instructors at the U with differing levels of experience and also different job titles to get a wide spectrum of people to comment on the topic. They were the best sources because they were all very interesting people with different backgrounds working for the same cause at the U. 

My only obstacle was a last second story switch, but it worked out in the end and I found a good topic to write about. I was planning on writing about the basketball scene in Seattle and what would need to happen in order for Seattle to get an NBA team again. Sadly, this story didn’t get any traction, so I decided to switch to the University of Utah’s handling of COVID-19. This switch proved later to be the right choice. I don’t think the pandemic posed any problems considering my story was about the pandemic. 

I made sense of all the information by taking notes and reading through the notes. I decided my focus by running through different possibilities in my head. The writing process went smoothly for me because I carefully planned it out beforehand. I learned my writing style when incorporating an interview, something I had never done before this story. The formation of interviews, the actual interviews and the writing process all took place in one week due to a last second story switch. 

All three of the people I interviewed said that they didn’t feel that the U’s job handling coronavirus affected the Salt Lake Valley. I was expecting the opposite answer from all three. I had a great time writing this story and interviewing the people I did. I also learned a valuable lesson from this assignment. I learned that a lack of progress is not a reason to quit, but it may be a sign to make changes that will allow progress to continue.

ABOUT ME: 

I am an 18-year-old student at the University of Utah, and I am originally from Seattle. I am studying communication with a focus in journalism and I aspire to be a sports analyst or a sportswriter. My hobbies include basketball, going to the gym, hiking, writing and being with friends and family. I hope to be able to give back one day and to also be a famous name in the sports world. 

Reede Nasser

MY STORY:

A glimpse into online college learning at the University of Utah

MY BLOG:

When we were deciding what we were going to be writing about, I knew I wanted to give students a voice. I wanted their woes to be heard. As I was continuing my research about the many issues students seem to be having, learning in a pandemic was one I simply couldn’t ignore. It was an issue many seemed eager to talk about. Students were frustrated and so, it seemed, professors were as well. By using them as my sources, I was able to learn how education was truly being affected by the COVID-19 virus. Firsthand accounts were perfect for this story, no one else knows a student’s struggles better than the students and educators themselves. For the story, I did have to set aside my own perspective as a student. 

This story wasn’t about my opinion but the ones of others. Very few times did opinions differ. When it came down to it the majority of the students interviewed agreed with each other. This made my angle easy to find and utilize. When I was interviewing educators, however, it was a different story. Some agreed with the frustration of students and some seemed to make their online classroom as normal and efficient as possible. I was surprised by this, though the students were collectively doing similar to past years; the teachers too were struggling to make sure information was retained and students could be engaged. By the end of the article, part of me had hoped, with online learning continuing, our ability to utilize it as a better tool is growing.

ABOUT ME:

Reede Nasser is a second-year full-time student at the University of Utah. She was raised in a small town in Southern California and moved to Park City, Utah, before her high school years. This allowed her to meet people from every walk of life and gave her a better understanding of how a range of economic resources can shape a town.

She is a hopeful future journalist studying political science and communication who has found a passion for advocating for those who can’t in her writing. Nasser has had a love for reading and poetry from a young age, something she attributes to her mother who was an AP Literature teacher when she was growing up. 

Photo by Kayla Atwood

As naive as it may sound to her, Nasser’s aspiration of working with the New York Times has been as prevalent as it was when she first saw the building at the age of 10. This goal of hers has not wavered — maybe this was due to her father buying her a subscription when she turned 15 or aunts and uncles allowing her to visit the building every year since she was 10, but she believes she will make it. 

At the University of Utah, Reede found her place within the Greek community. She belongs to Alpha Phi the Beta Sigma chapter. Within the community, she has found empowerment and support from her fellow Greek women. Joining this community has opened her up to leadership and community service opportunities. This has provided her access to stories of other amazing women, which have truly shaped her for the better.

Devin Richard Dayley

MY STORY:

Utah business, Burgess Orchards, remains family-owned and -operated since its inception

MY BLOG:

When tasked with finding a subject to write about, I had a hard time. I immediately turned inward and began asking myself questions like: what do I think is interesting? Surely if I am interested in what I write about, others will be too.

I received some peaches from an orchard where my mom buys peaches every year and then the idea hit me like a ton of bricks! I could write about this orchard. I was easily able to get the contact information of the man in charge, Clark Burgess, and from there, was able to find people to talk to.

I did not have any specific ideas about what direction I wanted to take my story in. When I would think about it, I just assumed I would write about the orchard and the history of it.

When it came to my interviews, I made the conscious decision to ask questions but not steer the interviews in any certain direction. Since I had no clear direction to take my story, I figured letting them steer the interview was the best tactic.

After the interviews were done, I noticed that they must have subconsciously steered the interview toward the future of the orchard. I thought, hey, that is perfect! Instead of focusing on right now, I will keep the readers focused on the future of the orchard.

Once I had decided how to focus my story, it seemed as though everything came together. Writing the actual story was not hard. The work I had to put in before the writing was the difficult part.

ABOUT ME:

Devin is currently a part-time student at the University of Utah. With the love of cinema that he has, Devin aspires to use his knowledge of writing and journalism to be a film critic or film reviewer. He also has a passion for live theater. As such, he would love to do reviewing and critiquing in the world of theater or live art.

Coming of age in Arizona and Utah, Devin decided to change his world entirely and move to Laie, Hawaii, to attend Brigham Young University–Hawaii Campus after high school. 

After being there just six months, Devin was diagnosed with an astrocytoma, a cancerous brain tumor that required immediate surgery to excise. Leaving him with the basic functioning abilities, the next eight years of Devin’s life were dedicated to doing the therapies and things necessary to regain any lost abilities.

MiaBella Brickey

MY STORY:

The experience of the coronavirus through three immunocompromised young adults

MY BLOG:

I am a young adult woman born and raised in Salt Lake City. I attend the University of Utah and am majoring in photojournalism. I am a sister, a daughter, a friend. My intersectional identity has always been pretty basic, but what can I say? I’m a white woman from Utah. There’s nothing special about me; I don’t stand out in most crowds. I’m not saying that in a pitiful way, but rather as a matter of fact. I have never experienced a struggle due to a part of my identity. Unlike millions of other individuals around me, I’ve never experienced racism or discrimination for the way I look. And while this is and will continue to be true for the rest of my life, this past year resurfaced a part of my identity I thought I had grown out of years ago.

When I was 11 years old, I died in a hospital bed in the early summer morning of June. It was quick and unexpected.

Six days prior, I walked into the emergency room hand in hand with my dad. Four months from that day, I rolled out of the hospital doors in a wheelchair, a paper-thin body covered in eight new deep-tissue scars, with one new heart pumping the blood inside my small chest. For at least six years after that, I fought to shake the new identity that had been shoved down my throat. The girl with the heart transplant.

My school was small. Really small. The kind of small that you knew everyone down to their grandma and their grandma’s dog. I wanted to return to the person I was. I wanted to go back to before. Before the floor was slept out from under my feet and before my story was broadcasted around Salt Lake City via a blog my parents made.

But the truth was, I would never be that girl again. And I knew it; I just didn’t want to accept it at first. Slowly, I rebuilt my public identity into a young, smart, strong, creative, interesting young woman. Not the small girl with the transplant.

Most people don’t know about the lifestyle change that must happen post-transplant. In the months and years following one’s transplant, they are placed on strict house arrest and are very slowly re-introduced back into their social life. Fresh transplant patients are dosed on high levels of steroids and immunosuppressant drugs, making the patient extremely vulnerable to even just the common cold. While steroids and blood thinners are weaned, and eventually struck, from one’s medical chart, a transplant patient will take immunosuppressant anti-rejection medication twice daily for the rest of their lives.

In reflection of this year and the arrival of the virus that caused COVID-19, any transplant patient is considered at high risk of infection with fatal outcomes. This reality means I am at high risk. For the first time in years, a part of my identity had resurfaced that I had once worked so hard to outshine. Now, my health safety must take a priority over social interactions once more.

With my experience as an immunocompromised individual, I feel confident stating that this community of people is underrepresented. I wanted to write this story to spread awareness around this community of people and what our lives look like now. Most people don’t understand due to a lack of awareness and education. I hope that this story brings more awareness around the adversities most immunocompromised people face today as the coronavirus threatens our lives.

I know a handful of people my age that are immunocompromised, so I figured the best way to collect sources was through a call to action on my Instagram account. I asked for the participation of immunocompromised people between ages 18-25 for an interview covering their experiences as immunocompromised young adults during COVID-19. All of the sources who participated were incredibly insightful and well-spoken on their experiences throughout the pandemic. I made sure the call to action I posted was available to everyone on my following list, so no biases existed before the interview.

Writing the story, I had to be sure that I wasn’t writing a biased story from my perspective as an immunocompromised individual. I took the same restraint while conducting my interviews and with my sources as well. Since I have my own opinions and frustrations, I had to ensure that my frustrations weren’t being communicated via my sources and that what my sources were saying was genuine.

Taken at Stansbury Island, Utah.

ABOUT ME:

MiaBella Brickey was born and raised in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City. She is currently attending the University of Utah for her bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. Besides styling and directing photo-shoots, MiaBella enjoys spending her time dancing to loud music, road tripping to the nearest campsite, walking her dog around her neighborhood, and hanging out with friends and family. She is passionate about her creativity and is always looking for the next project to work on. Her goal in life is to live as presently as possible, protect and defend the rights of all human beings and animals, and to create a positive impact on all who come into her life.

Makayla Harris

MY STORY:

COVID-19 and its mental effects

MY BLOG:

The most interesting stories to me are the ones where I learn about people. I noticed in my freshman year of college that I had a fascination with hearing personal stories and insider perspectives. I enjoy them because it gives me an opportunity to learn and become more aware of what is around me. This is why I decided to write a story about the perspective and experience others are facing mentally in COVID-19. I chose the mental component because usually, emotions are the hardest perspective to share because it takes a level of vulnerability, and therefore is less common, but questionably the most important topic for individuals. 

I decided to find individuals who I knew felt comfortable enough sharing personal information and in addition, were going to be completely honest in the interviewing process. I also wanted a source who had some credibility to give the readers a different perspective on the effects of COVID-19, which is why I chose a therapist in addition to a student in her 20s and a business owner in his 50s. I wanted to make this article relatable to better allow the reader to absorb and engage with the information. I figured that two ages and two different types of genders would allow for more people to relate as well as be provided the best outcome a source could give for this story. 

There were a couple of interesting obstacles in the process of making this story. I found it difficult to keep the topic in focus. There was so much information that was valuable and I would have loved to include, but it, unfortunately, steered too far away from the topic at hand. I also found it difficult to be fully engaged and remember what I wanted to ask next; perhaps a better memory could improve that obstacle. As far as currently being in a pandemic, I didn’t have an issue talking and reaching out to my sources. 

As I had mentioned previously, one of the things I struggled most with was handling the information that I had received. The best way I was able to choose what to put into the story was keeping what I wanted the audience to take out of it in mind. If the information gave a different lesson or perspective than what the nut graph described then I refrained from including it. As for what the nut graph consisted of, I asked myself what I would want to gain out of this article and what would benefit me; from there I was able to decide what the nut graph consisted of and what the focus of the story would be. 

After gathering all the information, I quickly found that I needed a more organized format to be able to write about what I had learned. I also discovered that if I could make a whole story out of quotes I would and that I needed to find a way to insert my creativity into the story to prevent myself from using too many quotes. Most importantly, however, I learned that I have a love for creative leads and that I want to work on those skills more. 

If I had more time, and endless words to write this story with, I would have included Gideon Harris’ information about COVID-19 in the future and personal development. I would have also included Mark Raleigh’s more vulnerable words of his life growing up with depression. Despite the desire to to include more information, I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable my sources were at opening up. I knew they would be reliable but I was extremely impressed with the vulnerability and openness they presented while sharing. I am shocked every day by the amazing people that I am surrounded by and all that they are capable of, and this story validates the strength individuals have when times are less than ideal.  

ABOUT ME:

Makayla Harris is a University of Utah student who is studying to be a broadcast journalist. Previously Makayla has worked as a teacher assistant for business classes and has also partaken in helping develop start-up companies. She has skills working with Excel, Adobe Premier, and WordPress but considers her best skills to be time management, organization, and getting personal stories from individuals. 

Some of Makayla’s favorite things to do is talk with new people, hike, and read. Before Makayla knew she wanted to be a writer and broadcast journalist she once submitted a piece of creative writing into a contest for extra credit and was later announced the winner in an assembly. She says it was “an embarrassing but pleasant surprise.”

Makayla’s dream is to host her own show that consists of conversations with individuals who shed light on particular areas in their life that they believe will benefit others going through a similar situation. She hopes to accomplish this by allowing the guest to share experiences and tools learned in their most natural, authentic state of being.

The new coronavirus shaves years off school communication growth

Story and photos by REBECCA HALE 

A middle school student participating in virtual learning in November 2020.

The new coronavirus has rocked the world of education, from preschool through college. Everyone has had to adjust to different ways of learning as this virus continues to wreak havoc across the world. Besides requiring face masks, sanitizing stations, closed water fountains, and more, COVID-19 has challenged parents, students, teachers, and staff to choose online learning, in-person learning, or dual learning.  

Yet how are we getting all of the information we need? It has become imperative for schools to create cohesive ways to communicate with families. 

Larry and Florence Weir never imagined a world as they live in today, even without COVID-19 stirring things up. Communication was easier when the couple worked in education from the 1960s through most of the 1990s. Both of the Weirs have their master’s degree, Larry in engineering, and Florence in business. 

Picture of reading homework submitted electronically to a teacher for grading.

They agreed that communication between students and parents was rudimentary, a phone call to the parents or communicating any thoughts or concerns through parent-teacher conferences. 

“We would rely on the kids to get their assignments,” Larry said during an interview. “At the junior high level, I always encouraged my teachers to contact the parents. Whether it be good news or bad news.”

Communication without resources is very difficult and time-consuming. Prior to email, faculty would try to reach parents at home. This outreach would often spill over into teachers’ personal time. 

“I think one of the limiting factors, yes, work is a limiting factor, but we would schedule our parent-teacher conferences only in the day when I first started teaching,” Florence said. “But by the end of my teaching career, we had them in the evenings.” If that still wasn’t convenient, she said they would schedule another time to meet at the parents’ discretion.  

Former educators Larry and Florence Weir used to rely on the telephone to get hold of parents.

Not having an established relationship with each child’s parents led to rocky support for teachers. If their child was ever in trouble, the Weirs said teachers were often blamed by the parent.

Once the movement to increase positive communication with parents was enforced, teachers saw a corresponding increase in effective, supportive communication from parents. 

Today, two things are driving the need for communication. One is the requirement to report COVID-19 exposures and cases. The other is a desire for instantaneous information.

Carrier SI Inc., which specializes in designing a variety of networking solutions, is seeking ways to expand real-time connections.

Richard Miller, chief executive officer of Carrier SI, said it works kind of like an insurance broker. Carrier SI is a master agent for companies including Avaya, RingCentral, GoToMeeting, Zoom that designs customized unified communication solutions for all voice, video, SMS, chat, and wireless needs securely in the cloud. 

LOGO image courtesy of Carrier SI

“I think what’s so fun about what I do is it’s never boring. I’m always designing or helping with my team design something different for each business,” Miller said in a Zoom interview. 

His company has many solutions for schools, ranging from minimal to expansive upgrades. Several services require less information technology (IT) support, which would actually reduce the cost. However, Miller said school districts are constrained by budget. Even adding a low-cost upgrade seems out of the realm of possibility. 

“We called so many of our clients and I would bet a bit more than half of them just felt like they were being ‘sold,’” or being talked into a product they didn’t need or want. “Even with the upgrade being free for 120 days,” Miller added. 

Some of the schools around Utah have been using tools including Google Classroom, Skyward, Canvas, Remind, and Alma to digitally engage with students and parents. This helps communication be cohesive among platforms — online, in-person, dual learning. 

“I think there are so many things that are good with what’s going on with COVID,” Miller said. But, “there are better ways for teachers to communicate with parents.” 

Finding what works for the needs of schools, staff, parents, and students may be difficult, particularly in the middle of a pandemic. However, Larry Weir said, “You do the best you can in any walk of life.” 

Rebecca Hale

MY STORY:

The new coronavirus shaves years off school communication growth

MY BLOG:

I developed my story from the new communication options that both of my sons’ schools have taken part in due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the story developed, the perspective broadened into a comparison of past and present communication. When I realized that I was not receiving information from one school, but overwhelming information from another, it had me questioning why. In this day and age, it is important to have parents informed and there are ways to make sure they receive updates through one or multiple channels of their choosing. 

My sources were located through close friends of mine. 

Richard Miller, chief executive officer of Carrier SI Inc., has been such an asset to the story as he is currently making the communication market increasingly more valuable every day. From my interview with Miller, I could sense that he isn’t quitting any time soon, and has what’s best for the clients at heart. Sharing his knowledge of what communication was, what it is now, and where it is going has me excited for schools across our nation. 

As the story developed, I became aware it would need to shift to be told effectively. Once I shifted, it became more clear what the focus would be, which made any further obstacle easier to approach and deal with. 

Larry and Florence Weir have advanced degrees and years of teaching experience. Through the interview process, I was wishful that I’d had them as teachers myself. They were vital to my enterprise story to help contrast the way communication with the way it is today.

COVID-19 didn’t pose any major problems with my story. With Miller, I met with him through a Zoom meeting, which I think for his busy schedule was probably much easier than trying to meet in person. Larry and Florence were gracious and willing to have me to their home, masked, and socially distant to go through the interview. 

Making sense of all the information gathered took longer than anticipated. It helped that I was allowed by all interviewees to record our interviews, which I did through Otter. This was an amazing option because I was able to search words, listen to the interviews again, find the focus, and supporting information. 

The writing process was a little harder than anticipated. It didn’t line up with what I originally had planned writing about. The craft of writing for me is a process of write, review, read out loud, re-write, and repeat. I enjoy writing this way because I am able to get feedback (whether I agree or disagree) and get an outside perspective on what I’m writing. 

I was surprised by how the story changed in certain areas but also how the story ultimately turned out. Also, I was surprised by the willingness of my sources to answer questions and be recorded. They are the necessary glue throughout the story. 

ABOUT ME:

Rebecca Hale has lived in Utah her whole life. While working in the dental field, she realized that she had a dream outside of dentistry, and started on her educational path. Being married with two kids, Rebecca has chosen to only do school part-time until this semester, but she has gleaned perspectives and experiences that she couldn’t have had if she had taken a different route.  

Dabbling a little in artistic venues, Rebecca became a hobbyist photographer. Eventually, for her own fulfillment, she would enjoy combining her love for traveling, photography, and amazing food into one collaboration as gratification for her soul. Rebecca is currently finishing up her senior year at the University of Utah where she is expected to graduate in the Spring of 2021. Having started so long ago on her educational journey, she is eager to be finishing this chapter of her life and is ready to start the next chapter.

Morgan Parent

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

I developed the idea of writing a story about the Red Door by combining my interest in writing with my familiarity with the location. Surprisingly, there is not much coverage on the Red Door in Salt Lake City publications. Even when speaking with friends, few of them have ever heard of the place. This often means I get the honor of taking them for the first time, but more people need to know about the great drinks and the bar deserves more business!

I found my sources by going directly to the source. The owner was on board with the idea of having me write the story and kindly answered all of my questions. The manager has been working there just a year short of how long the bar has been open and was also glad to talk about her experience. My third source is a regular of the bar who would be able to provide a customer’s view of the location.

The main obstacle to writing this story was figuring out when the owner and manager would be working so I’d be able to talk to them. The other bartenders are lovely, but I had my heart set on those two specifically.

I wanted to write a story about the Red Door from the beginning to now, touching on aspects of the location, clientele, and drinks. After getting my quotes, I like to copy and paste them into a separate document in the approximate place where they’ll make sense in the story, then start writing real sentences from there.

Unfortunately, not everything made the final cut. There was not a natural place to include that the monkey in the corner was designed and built by Mark Hofling, who has worked designing movie sets and happened to be a friend of a friend of the owner. Before the Red Door took over the space it occupies, a copy and print shop called Quick and Reilly’s stood in its place. Also left out were a couple mentions of Utah’s unique liquor laws and the working atmosphere between employees. Surprise — they get along really well, just like a true work family should.

All in all, I like spending time at the Red Door for a drink or two. The drinks are amazing and the owner is one of the most interesting people I know. Finding a way to potentially send a few more customers through the door with a school assignment was the best blend of different parts of my life I could come up with.

ABOUT ME:
Parent_1610_BioPhoto

Messy hair and late nights – these signature traits are near constants in this young professional’s life.

A stroke of luck and dash of hard work provided Morgan the opportunity to get a taste for working in the music industry on a local and national scale. Her experience includes positions at Kilby Court, K-UTE Radio, and Universal Music Group.

When she isn’t listening to music or at a concert, she can be found writing, drawing, or taking photographs – doing something creative!

Morgan has had works published in her high school’s literary magazine, K-UTE Radio’s blog, and Pinstriped Zine. Ideally, this list will continue to grow as the years pass by.

Morgan completed her Bachelor of Science in Communication at the University of Utah in 2019. From there, she plans on relocating to the Pacific Northwest to pursue a career in marketing that will hopefully bring her back to the music industry.

Quincy Wansel

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

My Enterprise story idea actually came as a surprise. I was not aware of the situation, and neither was anyone else — including my sources. I first went up to Miller Cafe in Lassonde Studios to interview former Chef Mark Jacson about how the menus are chosen there and he revealed the issue to me. Because I am a Black woman and advocate for Black issues, this topic sounded like a no-brainer to me. I also spoke with Chef Francine Kahindo.

Next, I thought to talk to the staff in the Dining Services. I ended up only briefly talking to Jamie Denker, the director of marketing and guest experience. I tried to talk to Mark Morrison, the director of Resident Dining, but he declined an interview and referred me back to Denker. I attempted to reach out to Andrew Fuchs, director of Union Food Operations, but he never got back to me.

From there, I decided to talk to the Black organizations on campus. I went to the Black Cultural Center and spoke with Meligha Garfield and Jatara Smith who then referred me to Cha McNeil, a social justice advocate at the Office of Equity and Diversity. They also advised that I seek out an advocate to help me with talking to the Dining Services on campus, preferably Tawanda Owens. I was able to meet with Owens, who worked with me on my story. 

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I encountered so many issues. First, people failed to get back to me while I was on deadline. Second, Denker did not give me any useful information for my article. Last, the information that I acquired from Jacson that birthed my story was not entirely true. With the help of my sources and an extension from my professor, I was able to obtain the true information and change the outline of my story for the better. 

My focus was handed to me when Jacson told me about the issue. I knew right then and there that I had to write a story about why Soul food was not being served anymore at Miller Cafe. Bits and pieces of my story were missing until I talked to Cha McNeil who flipped the script. She gave me all the information I needed to write a story, which ended up being more about what Soul food is and cultural awareness for the chefs instead of a potential aggressor renouncing Black History Month and Soul food and getting away with it. 

The writing process of this story was difficult, seeing as though I ran into multiple obstacles during the stage of gathering information. I learned that it can sometimes feel like the world is trying to stop you from writing whatever story you are on. Things will come up, people will cancel on you, mislead you, and ignore your calls for help. Regardless of what happens, though, I learned that you must power through — or the show must go on, as people say. You have to find a way to complete your story, even if that means going off the original path to make it flow and make sense. 

There is no more information that did not make it in my story — that I know about. I wish I would have been able to contact Chef Jacson again after all of the information was presented to me. I would have liked to see what he thought of the whole thing, and to have him involved in the 2020 Black History Month celebration at the U. I wish I would have been able to meet and talk with the students who filed the original complaint on the chicken and waffles fiasco. I think it would have been very interesting to see the faces of the students and hear what they felt when they saw the food. 

It did and did not surprise me that Black students were the ones who complained about the food. With the timing of the blatant racism on campus, I was thinking that a racist student had complained instead. But, I was relieved to hear that it was Black students who posed the question of cultural awareness. There was no ill intent behind the truth of the story, and that was more satisfying to me than my original idea being completely true. 

I am proud of my story, even though it did not turn out how I expected it to at all. But, I am very excited to see the impact that my story makes for the U, and hopefully shine a light on other issues hiding in the dark.

ABOUT ME:

I am a full-time student currently at the University of Utah, and in spring 2020 will continue my academic career at Rutgers University-Camden until graduation. I am a poet, mentor, and future journalist. I aspire to use my platform to spread awareness for various issues regarding race, gender, and class, inspire people of all ages, and mentor the younger generations. Some of my hobbies include working with young poets, writing various forms of poetry, movie plots, and lyrics, cooking and creating new recipes, reading magazines and books, and analyzing films. 

LGBTQ+U: The community at the University of Utah

Story and photos by ANDREW LURAS

Salt Lake City is known as being one of the most Mormon cities in America. And to counter the common knowledge of that, it’s also known as one of the “gayest” cities, which many people find hard to believe.

With it being known as this type of city, many different students from out of state are probably wondering how the University of Utah may reflect those values.

The conversation of the LGBTQ+ has always been around, but it’s become such a widespread debate through politicians, news, and just everyday conversation. This community is constantly fighting for its well-deserved rights in this country, as well as the freedom to walk around safely without the lingering fear of running into the many hateful people who reside within America. 

LGBTQ+ students are seeking out which colleges and universities to attend based on many differing factors such as how accepting toward them will their future campus be. With the U, at new student orientation, the staff will kindly ask you to state your name, without it even having to be your birth name, and your pronouns, such as he/him, she/her, they/them, etc.

The LGBT Resource Center is located on the fourth floor in room 409 inside the U’s A. Ray Olpin Union building. The center was founded in 2002 by Stayner Landward and Kay Harward, both retired and moved on. This was during a time when the Mormon church was “anti-gay” with many of its teachings and practices showing some distaste toward gay marriage, according to Whit Hollis, the director of the Student Union. It started out as just an LGBT student organization with weekly meetings garnering a range of 80 to 250 students. 

Hollis attended a few of these meetings. “There was a clear need for services for that group of students, faculty, and staff of course due to the sheer size of the student organization,” Hollis said. When creating the resource center, Landward and Harward found support from the student body and administration at the U but it wasn’t always like that. 

Proposition 8, also known as Prop 8, came about during 2008. It was a ballot proposition against same-sex marriage. During this time the LGBTQ+ found themselves being targeted for hate-speech and microaggressions. “They would tell us, ‘Why do you need more rights, you already have equal rights,’ which was bullshit,” Hollis said. 

“Things have definitely been better recently. There’s still these microaggressions going around but the U has improved since the resource center first started,” Hollis said. He commented on the many different locations the resource center has occupied as it’s grown. “There was a point where I had to convert a storage closet to be the center’s main room which was ironic for the gay director to put all the gays in the closet,” Hollis said as he laughed at the idea. 

“Right now it seems to be quite successful, but we all can strive to do better, no matter where we are,” Hollis said. “The U isn’t as safe as it needs to be and that we must always strive to make the U a safe campus for all students, faculty, and staff who attend or work here.”

As of February 2019, the resource center’s director is Clare Lemke, the former assistant director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success at Iowa State University. “I was looking for my next step and Utah wasn’t on my radar,” she said. “I’ve been looking for different opportunities in the West and this job came up.” Lemke had been moving in order to try to find something closer to her partner’s career. When this job opportunity appeared, she became surprised by the vibrancy of diversity in the U’s campus with the many queer and transgender people she has been able to meet on campus. 

Originally, she thought she was studying to become a professor but over time she found that working in a resource center felt more “collaborative” than being a traditional educator. Currently at the resource center there are three full time staff members and two student staff members. “All of our staff here bring a wealth of different backgrounds and personalities. It’s refreshing to see for the students who visit the center,” Lemke said. 

When it comes to the changes the U has gone through in terms of LGBTQ+ acceptance, Lemke feels as if the U “isn’t just a place you go to and leave at 5 p.m. anymore.”

Lemke finds that the U is very different from her previous institution. “I don’t think I’ve been anywhere with so much of its influence being made by the different cultures within the U.” She added, “We’re constantly striving to make the U a safe space for queer and trans students, we just want to make sure we don’t let these negative experiences an LGBTQ+ student might have affect the rest of their life here.”

One student in particular, who asked to be identified as “G,” said she had some pretty odd experiences at the U as an LGBTQ+ member. “I’m a business major and a lot of the students in those buildings in particular are pretty discriminatory towards my sexuality.”

G also said her Mormon peers have invited her to church. “They would be overly friendly at first,” she said, but she felt like they were only inviting her to change her sexual orientation.

G doesn’t know how accepting the rest of campus is, but that experience left her with much anxiety. She found it harder to reach out to many of her peers or professors about this issue but she found solace in the many other friends outside of school who were LGBTQ+ accepting. G used to go to Westminster College and she felt the transition from there to the U was “an odd experience.” G said there is room for improvement at the U and we should be looking for ways to help students have an overall great campus life.

“I’ve been to the resource center a few times,” G said. “Clare [Lemke] and the staff at the center are very helpful, though I had trouble finding it at first. If you are a part of the LGBTQ+ you should definitely check out the resource center, they’re a really great group of people, especially if you had an experience on campus like mine.”  Even with G’s experience at the U, she has decided to stay and not let it affect her pursuit of a business degree. This is just one in the many cases of what it’s like to be a student at the U who is a part of the LGBTQ+. 

As much as Salt Lake City has this good image on being an open and welcoming city to the LGBTQ+, students, faculty, and staff at the U are always working on improving upon the areas they may be lacking in. Whit Hollis believes we need to focus more on the safety of our LGBTQ+ members. And Lemke knows we must prioritize these students because the negative experiences they might have on campus may affect their education here. As Hollis, Lemke, and G have agreed on, the U should always be striving to do better in order to figure out the best way to serve its students so they can have an educational, safe, and happy experience here on campus. 

 

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Randall Whitmore

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

I developed my story idea because I was in a moderately severe electric scooter accident in the past. The injuries I sustained were due to the newly modified electric brakes which improperly engaged, causing the scooter to suddenly stop. The front wheel of the scooter locked up and sent me flying face first over the handlebars. A couple months later my roommate, Elan Maj, also fell on a scooter and that’s when I became very skeptical of the electric scooters and their safety.

I started to notice the lack of maintenance to the electric scooters as many of them around the city and campus have flat tires or missing components. I have also seen a number of students fall off the scooters on campus grounds and I figured this may be a larger issue. 

Locating my sources was fairly easy. I reached out on Instagram and received a lot of input from friends and family who have either crashed an electric scooter or knew someone who has. After talking to both nurses and injured riders, I decided to reach out to the University of Utah Department of Public Safety to see if this was a large issue on campus.

I went to the Public Safety office and spoke with the woman at the front desk to put me in touch with Officer Ryan Speers. The employees at Public Safety were extremely helpful and gave me a lot of great information. This was probably my best resource in regards to information pertaining to scooter accidents on campus because it included actual figures and evidence.

Initially I thought the story would consist of sources and information providing only negative feedback around electric scooters. With that said, Public Safety provided a lot of positive feedback around the scooters. This really helped my enterprise story by giving me opposing viewpoints which helped me to remain more objective. 

I encountered a couple obstacles while trying to locate my sources. It was very difficult to get in touch with Speers due to his busy schedule. I also learned a very valuable lesson regarding note taking after receiving great information from another source within Public Safety. Since I did not think I was conducting an interview, I did not collect her information nor did I record any of the information that she provided. This would have been an issue if I was unable to conduct an interview with Speers. 

The hardest part of the writing process for this piece was deciding how to organize the sections and interviews in my story. I wanted the story to be structured properly in order to keep a linear direction so it was easier to follow. Remaining objective and keeping my experiences and viewpoints out of the story was also difficult.

I was most surprised with the amount of advocates for electric scooters both on and off campus. I was shocked there have not been any reported scooter accidents on campus since they were activated in 2018. The interview took a very interesting turn due to the fact that most of my questions were positioned as if the scooters were an issue on campus. I had to think quickly to come up with new questions to take advantage of the interview with the Speers.

ABOUT ME:

Busy is my standard!

I moved to Salt Lake City in 2017 with a car full of clothes and a couple hundred dollars. I was unemployed for five months as snowboarding was my only priority. The fun halted when $97 was all that remained in my bank account. I was poor and I did not have a job nor did I have any connections outside of my fellow ski bums. My back was against the wall and I was forced to make drastic changes in order to survive.

I began working odd jobs until I found a sales position at a local tech startup company, PillPack Pharmacy. After months of excelling in a sales position, I progressed to become the corporate sales trainer. As the first sales trainer, I created and optimized the sales training program to help the company grow to 300 times larger in just over a year. 

After taking three years off of school, I realized how much I needed to finish my college degree. PillPack Pharmacy eventually sold to Amazon and I decided it was the perfect time to finish my collegiate career. I began attending classes at the University of Utah in the fall of 2018 and will be graduating in the fall of 2020.

I am a third-generation business owner and I truly enjoy the art of arbitrage. I have been buying and selling antiques, clothes, and cars for most of my adult life in order to pay for the unbearable cost of tuition.

Being an entrepreneur and a college student is extremely tough because school often keeps me from embarking on my dreams as a creator and business owner. All of my extracurricular profits help to pay for school and my living expenses; however, I find it hard to strive when the confines of the educational system keep me tethered financially.

As a 25-year-old senior I see the value in education but not at the cost of financial freedom. My eldest sister graduated from college in the fall of 2008 with nearly $60,000 in student loans. I witnessed her as she embarked on her professional journey during the midst of the recession. Debt became such a burden and I promised myself I would not make the same mistake. My plan is to finish school without accruing debt along the way.

As a communication student and journalist, I want to help other students to be their own part-time boss in order to create their own financial freedom. With my experiences, I truly feel like I can help students by making sound financial decisions and embracing the part-time hustle. I also want to help students to understand money as they enter the adult stages of their lives. I am fascinated by the global and local economy and I would love to report to students how they can leverage their money to make multiple sources of income. I would also like to share the importance of credit, loans, savings, and other financial nuances. I want to fix the way students look at money by providing entertaining and educational messages that are useful for a broad audience.

Isa Alcaraz

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

This story developed from a hobby that I recently picked up: skiing.

I met somebody in 2018 who is very passionate about skiing, and he told me I should give it a try, so I did. I instantly loved it. This story idea developed as I was making goals and thinking about this upcoming ski season. I thought it would be interesting to focus on a ski resort, and learn more about the behind-the-scenes aspects of it and culture that has come out of it. My story had two main focuses: Brighton Ski Resort’s preparation for the ski season, and ski culture in Utah. I tried to connect these two ideas because I didn’t want the whole story to be focused on just one part of it. The skeleton of this story is Brighton’s preparations, and the heart is the ski culture.

When it comes to writing, I like to write as much as I can to begin with. I like to trust my gut at first, and write in the style that I keep hearing the story being told in my head. Usually that ends up being a big pile of words and random sentences, but that’s when the revising comes in.

Through this project I’ve come to make peace with revising. It’s now something I can get lost in and find myself doing for hours, which I’ve never really done before. I always thought that what I first said was good enough. I still believe in “spilling your heart” in writing, or free-writing as much as you can, but polishing is good and necessary. You always want your message to be clear.  

My sources came from people I thought would give me good insight into the different aspects of what skiing is in Utah, at different levels. The biggest obstacle I faced was scheduling time with my sources. When I think about it now, it’s actually very reflective of my experience learning how to ski for the first time. At times I felt frustrated because I thought it would be much simpler than it was. I wanted to scrap the whole thing and find something else to do. However, in writing and in skiing, persistence is key. Even if you lose your balance, you’ve got to just get back up, because it’s the only way to get down the mountain.

ABOUT ME:

biopictureI am a communication major with an emphasis in strategic communication at the University of Utah. I grew up with a love for the performing arts, film, and photography. I also enjoy writing, and took COMM 1610: Intro to News Writing to gain a different kind of writing experience. After graduation I hope to travel to new places and work in a communications field, either marketing or public relations. I plan to graduate Spring 2021.

Utah musicians discuss struggles for work and appreciation from residents

Story and illustrations by NATALIE ZULLO

Upon graduating from college, professional musicians look toward their careers with hope. But outside of the campus, they worry about their careers due to the lack of professional opportunities available.

Hallie Mosteller, a violin teacher in the Sandy, Utah, area and member of the Orchestra at Temple Square said, “I maybe thought I would have a little more option. But I have found that I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I never thought I would have, like the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Joanne Andrus, owner of Andrus Music, agrees that there are a lot of opportunities in Utah for music. She said, “I think the thing that’s great about living in Utah is that that there are a lot of avenues, a lot of venues, that you can use to make money.”

But opportunities to share music on the professional level do not come to everyone. “I think if you have a talent level, there is a lot of work out there,” Andrus added. “But you have to be the best of the best to have those kinds of opportunities.”

Those musicians who are not “the best of the best” worry about their financial future.

In a previous interview, Kasia Sokol-Borup, assistant violin professor and director of the String Preparatory Division of the University of Utah’s School of Music, said, “When people think that what we do is just this constant inspired magical moment, they feel that we should feel lucky when we’re asked to do that in front of other people.”

Mosteller, violinist in the Orchestra at Temple Square, said she gets asked to do a lot of performances for free. “Especially in Utah, you get asked to do a lot of church things like performing in church. It definitely takes a lot of work to be able to make a living performing. It’s tough. I’m a little worried about it.”

To help make ends meet, many musicians have turned to teaching children and owning their own studios. But they fear that their rates are an issue for parents.

“I do feel like music is highly valued and the arts are very import to our culture,” Andrus said. “But I do feel like people don’t like to spend a ton of money.” Andrus charges $25 per private lesson but has had experiences with parents who refuse to pay her rates.

Mosteller, who is both performing and teaching, said she worries about her future as a teacher. “I feel like you hit a brick wall teaching. I probably would need to get another job.”

Sarah Affleck, Utah mother of six, feels differently about the rates musicians offer. She said in reference to hiring private music instructors for her children, “Price was never an issue for us because we were happy to invest in that for our children. I would pay their prices because I know how genius they are.” No matter how high the price of the musician, Affleck said she feels that music is a long-term investment for her children. It is a skill that can be taken with them throughout their lives no matter their age.

Affleck’s children have been privately taught piano, guitar, voice, cello and composition from instructors around the Salt Lake Valley. When asked if Affleck hired an instructor based on a music degree and skill, she replied, “Their background in music education was less important to me. What was important to me with the instructor was how well they interacted with children. That was probably the number one over degrees or skill.”

Mosteller has felt in her performing career that her degree is not as important to employers as her skill and experience. She said, “I feel like experience is definitely more valued, like with the Orchestra at Temple Square.”

Musicians tend to take up other musical careers to help with finances giving private lessons, including teaching the arts in school orchestras, choirs and bands. But musicians are seeing the loss of music in the education system.

Sokol-Borup said, “I think the fact that people ask for so much music and [desire] it shows that music actually is a basic human need, which when you look at the way our education works, it’s as if it wasn’t.”

In reference to the current school system, Andrus said, “It’s not just STEM it should be STEAM. It shouldn’t just be science, technology, engineering and math. We need to throw the arts in there. Because that’s what makes our children people. That is what humanizes all of us is the arts.”

Leslie Henire, concert mistress of Sinfonia Salt Lake, also has noticed the lack of arts in the lives of children. “It’s necessary for us as humans to have beauty and art and culture in our lives. I just don’t see any other way. It’s a necessity and it’s becoming less and less,” she said.

Affleck feels strongly about music in the lives of children. She wants her own kids to be involved in music “for their own self-expression and creativity. Music is a powerful brain tool.” She added, “It can be used for education. It stimulates the brain.”

For many Utah musicians and parents, music is crucial in school curriculums and individual lives. Andrus said it is also a crucial part of humanity.

“That creative part of life gives a huge reason to get out of bed every day and if we lose that, we lose part of our culture, part of our humanity and we lose all the benefits that come to our brains by creating and being more than just robots,” Andrus said. “We have things that we can accomplish that are so much bigger if we include the arts in our curriculum for our kids and in our lives as adults.”

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Tucker Scott

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

The way I developed my enterprise story was by finding a topic I thought I could relate to and also have it be an interesting topic for the people reading my story. While doing research on some of the ongoing things happening in the Salt Lake area I stumbled across the stadium expansion of Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The way I located my sources was by asking my football coach to be interviewed along with the former head coach of the University of Utah, Ron McBride. I have a previous relationship with both coaches considering the fact my dad played for both of them during his collegiate career, so it was fairly easy getting in contact with him.

I felt like these two sources primarily were the best sources because they are the face of Utah Athletics. Although there are other coaches and teams I personally feel like they are the most well-known people in the state of Utah. I enjoyed the writing process throughout the whole assignment.

I feel like if I struggled on anything it would be the AP style which I am getting better at. Another thing I ran into was I wanted to interview the new athletic director but he never got back to me until the assignment was due. He was in California dealing with PAC12 issues.

I really enjoyed learning about the history behind the stadium. Growing up always attending the games and then eventually playing in that stadium it blew me away the amount of rebuilds that have been done and how old the stadium actually is. Overall it was an awesome experience and I really enjoyed becoming a journalist. 

ABOUT ME:

I am a former student athlete at the University of Utah. I played football there for two years until getting a career-ending injury. I started to follow my other passion for photography and videography and decided to stick around the team and help out with creating content and helping run the different social media platforms.

Over the summer I interned at STANCE at the corporate office in San Clemente, California, helping create content and also helping run the social media. Now back at school I currently do a lot of freelance work for a variety of different companies.

Throughout this journey I have learned a lot of new things with working with people. I have had to produce work in a timely manner in order to make deadlines. I have learned to work as a team and learn to have patience with some of the companies that I work for.

I also do real estate photography for a specific team in Salt Lake City. My goal is to end up doing commercial photography for large corporations and eventually one day run my own business. 

Charlene Rodriguez

MY STORY:

MY BLOG:

When initially given the enterprise story assignment details, I thought the assignment seemed pretty straightforward and simple enough. This proved to be a little harder than I expected as I got further into the project and realized just a small portion of what journalists have to manage when crafting and publishing a story. 

I knew I wanted to present an idea around arts and culture so I played around with the theme in my head for a few days until I remembered Sundance plays a huge role in Utah/Park City culture. While the actual festival is well known, the Institute and what it offers for new, emerging filmmakers as well as locals was pretty vague. 

I started contacting sources at the same time that I was conducting research. I knew the best sources would probably be individuals involved in local government and within the Sundance Institute itself. I sent out interview request emails and luckily got responses back pretty quickly from there. 

After getting a response from the Institute, a source shared with me more information on the fellowship programs and directed me to LaraLee Ownby, who is the assistant director of Utah Community Programs. She was an excellent source for information about local screenings and different outreach programs the Institute offers both during the festival and year round. 

Jenny Diersen, who is the special events and economic development manager for Park City Municipal Corporation, was also a great asset to my story. She shared specifics on how Sundance is contributing to the growth of the arts and culture scene in Park City. Diersen also shared a lot of statistics with me about how many people the Institute reaches and explained how Sundance is ingrained within the culture. 

The most difficult part of this process was probably the scheduling and managing of different sources. Attempting to be persistent with communication while respecting schedules and response times became hectic. I had a few sources who were all set to go on record, but for outside reasons backed out pretty close to deadlines. This was stressful as I had to cut out and restructure portions of my story and reach out to new sources asap. 

I knew I wanted a source who could comment on the effectiveness of the fellowship opportunities as it would make that portion of my story a lot stronger. I decided the best source I could get was someone who’s been through the program themselves. This led me to reach out to my last source, Maya Cueva, a current Ignite Fellow. Cueva was able to give me the personal experience with the Institute’s programs that rounded out my story nicely.

In terms of the actual writing process, I found it difficult to sit down and just write. I was overanalyzing my writing style and not sure how I wanted to organize my story so it felt cohesive. It wasn’t until I forced myself to go to the library, set aside all other distractions, and poured out all my ideas onto a page that I was able to get a good draft going. 

This actually helped me learn that at least for me, the best way to start drafting is to simply “word vomit” on the page and then start organizing and refining from there. Although this project was stressful and frustrating at times, it did help me grow as an emerging professional and writer and ultimately has been a rewarding experience. 

ABOUT ME:

Charlene Rodriguez was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and at 3 years old, moved to Park City, Utah, alongside her parents. Growing up in the small ski town, she enjoyed spending time with her friends and family, serving the local community and learning about society and culture. 

As she grew up, she found herself interested more and more in understanding multiculturalism both within her community as well as a part of her identity. In attempting to better grasp her cultural identity of balancing both the Guatemalan and American aspects of her identity, she joined Latinos In Action. 

Latinos In Action is a community service based elective offered in various high schools throughout the U.S. aimed at developing, encouraging, and engaging young Latinx students through education, leadership, and social advocacy.

She participated in the program for five years from eighth grade through her senior year of high school, during which she was president.

Beginning college at the University of Utah, she initially went in with the idea that she wanted to pursue a degree in business. After her first semester taking entry-level business classes, she quickly found this just wasn’t the exact match. From there, she switched to a communications major with an emphasis in strategic communication. 

This was a simple call for a number of reasons. Firstly, this career path would run in the family as her father has a background in advertising. Secondly, the topics covered and discussions had in communications classes mirrored her interests in analyzing society and culture. Throughout this time she also decided to further pursue an interest in social psychology, a subject she found particularly intriguing since her AP Psych class in high school and made this her minor. 

Now a junior at the University of Utah, she is looking forward to making the most out of her remaining time on campus before graduating from the U in the spring of 2021 with her first bachelor’s degree under her belt. 

While still debating whether or not to attend graduate school right after, she aims to secure a job position at either a PR/advertising firm, or within the media relations departments of larger production companies. She looks to find employment within companies whose core values include promoting positive representations of women and people of color. 

She’s excited to continue growing and learning in both her personal life and career as she navigates the complexities and joys of being an immigrant women of color entering the professional world.