Tricia Oliphant

Photo by Thomas Oliphant

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Six years ago I moved to Salt Lake City to go to school. Every aspect of my life was focused around being a university student and, although I resided in Salt Lake City, I didn’t really live in Salt Lake City. I found myself caught up in day-to-day student life and ignorant of the world around me. Upon enrolling in this class, I decided I wanted to broaden my horizons and discover the city in which I had been living for years.

As I began to plan and report for my first stories, I quickly realized that the only way to discover a city is to talk to its people–to connect on a personal level with those who make up the community. As I have  interacted with the Salt Lake community in reporting for each of my stories, I have realized that Salt Lake City is rich with history, diversity and culture.

For my first story I visited the mental health court in Utah’s Third District Court. I admit I was nervous to go to mental health court for several reasons. I felt very ignorant of and inexperienced with the mentally ill.  Furthermore, prior to that experience, I had never been to any kind of court and therefore did not know what to expect. In spite of these fears, I attended and had an eye-opening experience.

At mental health court, I saw the mentally ill as normal, everyday people seeking help to regain control of themselves and their lives. I witnessed a judge who showed concern and compassion for each individual standing if front of her. What impacted me most was a mother who pleaded for her bipolar son. Attending mental health court helped knock down the “me and them” barrier that existed before when I thought of the mentally ill. I was able to better connect and even relate to those attending as we all have our personal struggles. Furthermore, I was able to witness Salt Lake City caring for its mentally ill.

The next couple of stories I wrote were about the Occupy Salt Lake movement and One World Cafe. Reporting for both of these stories allowed me to interact with several of the poorer, homeless citizens of Salt Lake who are trying to make a difference. I was inspired by their selfless vision of taking care of one another (including the homeless) and changing Salt Lake City. I was humbled by their kindness and enjoyed speaking with them and hearing their side of things. I will never forget the people I spoke with and the lessons they taught me while reporting for these stories.

My last story focused on the opening of the City Creek Center. I was intrigued by the City Creek Center and wanted to write a story on it because I felt that the center would change downtown Salt Lake City forever. I enjoyed talking with people about their opinions and views of the center and enjoyed experiencing it for myself.

Reporting for each of my stories has allowed me to see different sides of Salt Lake City. I am grateful to the people who opened up and allowed me to hear their stories.

About Me:

 My name is Tricia Oliphant and I am a senior at the University of Utah. I am studying Atmospheric Sciences with aspirations of becoming a broadcast meteorologist. I graduated from George Washington High School in Charleston, W. Va., in 2006.  Since high school, I have lived in Utah except for an 18-month period when I lived in Spain as a full-time missionary.

I am fascinated by planes and weather.  I interned at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., during the summers of 2007 and 2008 where my fascination was amplified.

I am currently enrolled in a journalism class at the U in order to help me as a broadcast meteorologist.  I have been told by other broadcast meteorologists that it is important to have good reporting skills when working in any position in the broadcast industry.  I hope that the stories I write for this journalism class will help the residents of Salt Lake City become more aware of their community.