As a person who lives with a disability myself, I immediately connected with this beat. People with disabilities are so inspirational and fascinating to me and I could not think of a more appropriate topic to write about. I was nervous at first because I am so passionate about music and about disabilities in general I felt like I might not be able to be objective in my reporting. However, that was the best part of the learning experience altogether. I purposely chose stories that I knew I would struggle with, profiles that would prove to be difficult to cover and asked all of the hard questions.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am extremely extroverted and I have no boundaries. In this process I have learned that those traits I possess have actually helped me get that great quote that makes the story or get that interview that no one could get. I am extremely blunt and I want to know the harsh truth in every situation. This is one of the reasons as to why I want to pursue journalism. I have such a passion for people and as I went about interviewing and creating my stories this semester I found that I couldn’t get enough information, I couldn’t interview enough people and I believe those different aspects are what make a good journalist.
Although I have passion for journalism, passion isn’t enough to make me successful. I learned that I have the discipline, drive and social skills to create an amazing piece but I lack in the writing process area. I have had to rewrite several drafts because my organization didn’t flow and because I lack major writing skills that are necessary in news reporting. I also had a really hard time separating myself from my stories. I had a hard time not putting myself into the story. However, I also realized that there is a balance between remaining unbiased and someone with a disability reporting on the disabled community.
Once I realized this, I knew the task at hand. I was the voice of the people and an outlet for them to get their stories heard. This was such an amazing experience for me with each of the stories I wrote because I had to decide if I was going to share my situation with the people, person, or organization my story was about or if I was going to remain faceless.
I really cherish my experience with Voices of Utah because it taught me so many skills that I need in order to be a fantastic journalist. One word that comes to mind in regards to my experience this semester is passion. I learned how much passion I had for writing, the passion I possessed for the beat and the passion I have for life in general. Looking back on the stories I covered and the people I interviewed I know that my perspective on life has been changed by those people and their stories and for that, I will be forever grateful.
Music is the universal language of life. As I have studied music and communication here at the University of Utah I have learned that I have a driving passion for both subjects. Originally a Violin Performance major, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and had to forfeit my scholarship. As a freshman from the rural area of St. George, Utah, I had to ask myself what the next chapter of my academic and professional career would be.
One of the reasons why I am so drawn to music is because it is a way for me to communicate my feelings toward others without having to use words. I think this is an amazing tool and as I lost my ability to play I found myself in a trance not knowing how to convey my feelings. Anytime I felt an emotion whether it is happy, mad, sad, lonely I just shut down rather than sharing my feelings. I realized that I was not happy with my lack of communication and decided that I was going to spend my time working on becoming a more confident and vibrant communicator.
In order to achieve this goal I participated in various events and became a member of almost every club on campus. For example, I attended UC Berkeley’s journalism conference where I had to constantly speak in front of people and this is where I learned that I wanted to be on camera. I participated in many pageants and was crowned Miss Saint George where I endorsed several sponsors and gave many speeches for the mayor, the city and my attendants. I also became a radio host here at the University of Utah. This was one of the first steps I took. I felt like if I didn’t have to show my face I wouldn’t get so embarrassed about speaking in front of other people and I would be able to be more myself and convey my feelings. This was such a great tool for me.
Upon this transformation I fell in love with the journalism program here at the U. My favorite class up until this semester was my public speaking class. If someone came to me two years ago and told me that was going to happen I would have told them to get out of town! Nowadays you can’t keep me off the camera. I guest host on Newsbreak, model swimsuits on KSL, radio host on K-UTE and practice my poise as Miss Davis County 1st Attendant.
I am so grateful for the many opportunities my education has given me and the opportunities I have had to transform myself into a confident outward person. Instead of being invisible I am often the center of attention and I would be lying if I said I didn’t love it.
I graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and a minor in Violin Performance in Spring 2014 and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store.