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Three CJ students gain valuable work experience during winter internships

Over this past winter break, three UW-Eau Claire journalism students had the opportunity to hold three week internships with large news organizations. December graduate Courtney Kueppers traveled to Washington D.C. to work at the Washington Post as the Ann Devroy Fellow. Current student Lauren French was the inaugural Koepp Fellow, completing a three week internship at in New York City that alumnus Stephen Koepp created. Lastly, Kiri Salinas, another current student spent her winter break with the KTSP news station in Minnesota as a part of the Henry Lippold Fellowship. The three took the time to reflect briefly on their experiences for this blog.


Kueppers who was awarded the Ann Devroy Fellowship at the Devroy Forum last spring spent three weeks with the Washington Post over winter break.

Kueppers who was awarded the Ann Devroy Fellowship at the Devroy Forum last spring spent three weeks with the Washington Post over winter break.

Courtney Kueppers

From a Virginia courtroom to a historic blizzard, the three weeks I spent reporting for The Washington Post as the 18th Ann Devroy Fellow were nothing if not memorable, exhilarating and educational.

I spent my stint there working on The Post’s Metro desk, which covers far more than just what happens in and around the district. I got to tell the tale of a stranger who gave 55 percent of his liver to a total stranger, then fell in love with her and now they are engaged to be wed. I covered a three day trial in Prince William County , and I even found a chance to give Eau Claire a shout out in one of my many pieces about snow storm Jonas.

I feel forever indebted to the many people who made this life changing opportunity possible and to the editors and reporters at The Post who graciously accepted me as a member of their team.

When I chatted with Ann’s former co-workers in the newsroom, they almost always began by describing her as having “a big personality,” but that remark was 100 percent of the time followed up by words such as “talented,” “dogged” or “the best.” I am both humbled and honored to be affiliated with a distinction that bears her name.

Many, many thanks to Craig Gilbert and Carol Guensburg for opening their home to me, to the UW-Eau Claire Communication and Journalism Department, my professors and classmates, Mark Matthews and the university Foundation.


French was the first Koepp fellow from UWEC. The university hopes to keep the fellowship running in the near future.

French was the first Koepp fellow from UWEC. The university hopes to keep the fellowship running in the near future.

Lauren French

My experience as the inaugural Stephen J. Koepp Journalism Fellow at Time Inc. is incomparable to anything I’ve ever done before.

Between covering ticket sales in New York for a record-breaking Powerball jackpot, writing national breaking news and reporting for a column on the New Hampshire primary, I grew immensely as a journalist. Everything I picked up, while valuable to me personally, is equally valuable to UW-Eau Claire’s student newspaper, The Spectator.

The Koepp Fellowship couldn’t have been the success it was without the help of so many thoughtful and hardworking people. Boundless thanks to Steve Koepp, Lesley Alderman and their son, Charlie, who graciously opened their home to me and went above and beyond to welcome me to New York. Their kindness will not be forgotten.

I owe a huge thanks to those in the CJ department who worked to kick off the inaugural year of the fellowship. Without them, this experience would not have been possible. Finally, I must thank my peers at The Spectator. They sparked my love for journalism with their camaraderie, support and dedication, and for that, I cannot say thank you enough. I am grateful to have been able to take that spark and apply it to the first year of the Koepp Fellowship.




Salinas was able to do a variety of different things in her short stint with KTSP TV.

Salinas was able to do a variety of different things in her short stint with KTSP TV.

Kiri Salinas

Starting my KSTP internship was thrilling and also terrifying at the same time.

Immediately on the first day, I was welcomed with open arms. I got to attend the morning meeting and introduce myself to amazing and hardworking reporters, producers, anchors and more. I told them all my plans for after college and they started having me help produce the 4:30pm newscast. I was exhilarated about how I got to jump right in. The people on producer’s row took me in and had me rewriting AP stories. After I had finished, they would tweak it a little and next thing I know, I hear the 4:30 anchor reading what I wrote. It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. The rest of my first week was just like that.

When week two came around, I started back at square one. I got to follow reporters all throughout the week. Each day was amazing to see how different reporters handled different topics. I was helping out with stories that ranged from gender nonconforming kindergartners to finding ways to cure “physician burnout.” I got to dig into each reporter’s mind and learn about how they got to where they are and the passion for what they do was just so clear to see.

The last week had to be the best week in my eyes. Everyone in the newsroom decided I was ready to tackle on more responsibility and so I was a field producer for the week. I got to go and make calls, conduct interviews, write the script, and put it all together. With one of the stories, I even got to have my own byline on the KSTP website, which was the highlight of my time there.

Each day was amazing and truly inspiring. I cannot thank Dr. Henry Lippold and everyone at KSTP enough for the rewarding time I had.


Have any comments or questions about the internships? Feel free to drop a comment below!

Three former CJ staff members remember their years at UW-Eau Claire

This past fall, three staff members in the Communication and Journalism department taught their last classes on the UW-Eau Claire campus, and said goodbye to students and staff on their way out of Hibbard Hall. Before fully removing themselves from the department, they were able to leave their parting thoughts in a retirement blog post.

Liz Chmielewski

Started in the spring of 1980.

What is your favorite memory of your time at the university?

When I see students “find their voice” through public speaking. It is a wonderful thing to behold. There is nothing more inspiring than when a student sets out to do a difficult and important task, and then accomplishes it.On a more personal note, I met my husband here. My daughter graduated from here. I built my life here.

Liz and Terry Chmielewski were both professors at UW-Eau Claire for over 30 years. The two also met at the university.

Liz and Terry Chmielewski were both professors at UW-Eau Claire for over 30 years. The two also met at the university.

What are the biggest changes you have seen over the years in the department?

I came here in January of 1980. I went from being the youngest faculty member in the department, to now being one of the oldest. The biggest changes have been the faculty. I’ve seen them come and go over the years, but they give me fond memories. The biggest changes have been the people.

What was your favorite class to teach?

It would have to be CJ 202: Fundamentals of Speech. It has given me so much joy watching and learning from my students. It is probably one of the more difficult courses to teach because of the amount of work, and the fear that students have when they come into class.

What is the best thing about UWEC?

The people: Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administration.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students?

Learn from your mistakes.  Try not to make the same mistake twice…but if you do, forgive yourself. READ THE DIRECTIONS!


Terry Chmielewski

Started in the fall of 1979.

What is your favorite memory of your time at the university?

MOST FAVORITE: Meeting and marrying my wife of 35+ years. OTHER STUFF: Getting to shake hands with candidate Barack Obama when he spoke on campus. Getting to shake hands with former-President Bill Clinton when he spoke in Eau Claire.

What are the biggest changes you have seen over the years in the department?

In 1993 the department was Communication and Theater Arts, and we were housed in Haas Fine Arts Center. Theater Arts split from us and merged with Music, and Communication merged with Journalism. We (Communication) then moved over to Hibbard.

What was your favorite class to teach?

I’ve been lucky. I have three favorite classes: CJ 300: Research Methods; CJ 373: Writing for Public Relations; and CJ 479: Integrated Strategic Communication Management.

What is the best thing about UWEC?

The students! The beautiful campus/city!

Do you have any words of wisdom for students?

An ounce of planning is worth a pound of “Damn, I should have …”


Mike Dorsher

Started in the fall of 2000.

What is your favorite memory of your time at the university?

It’s hard to pick out just one, but I’d say that it would be some of the great Devroy speakers we have had on campus. Getting the chance to meet and spend the day with all of the great Devroy speakers we have had right up through Al Kamen this past year, and just all of the parts of the Devroy Forum in general.

What are the biggest changes you have seen over the years in the department?

The change in the journalism curriculum and the mindset of journalism students to go from when I started, the mindset of being either in broadcast journalism or print journalism in almost entirely separate programs and doing either one or the other. But then being able to converge what were separate programs and curricula, to no longer be separate and for students to gain skills in both.

Mike Dorsher taught in the CJ department for over 10 years. In some of his final years he led a multimedia journalism trip to London and France.

Mike Dorsher taught in the CJ department for over 10 years. In some of his final years he led a multimedia journalism trip to London and France.

What was your favorite class to teach?

If I had to choose one it would be Mass Media Ethics: CJ 412 because it was the class where I had the best discussions with students, and where I got to work with public relations and advertising students along with the journalism students. Also, to have Dave Gordon bring me in to be one of the co-authors and editors of the textbook for that class was a real highlight.

What is the best thing about UWEC?

The reason that I was initially attracted to Eau Claire was because it was a good medium sized university. It was large enough to attract good students and faculty from around the region, but at the same time it was small enough so that I got to know a lot of people, both faculty and especially the students in my classes. I can literally say that by mid-way through the semester every year I was able to remember every student’s name.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students?

Specifically for journalism students, I would say to not be discouraged by the small number of jobs available in big news or smaller local newsrooms. Instead, think more broadly about how you can do journalism that is valuable and to make a living, such as entrepreneurial journalism.

Springing into a new semester in the CJ department

Welcome back to campus students and staff for what is sure to be another exciting semester ahead of us. As you all transition into new classes and new obligations, I will be getting used to my new position, managing the blog and the Facebook page for the communication and journalism department.

With all that goes on during a semester in the CJ department I couldn’t be more excited to share the happenings with everyone. Followers whether you be students, professors or alumni you should all feel free to contact me throughout the semester with comments or ideas for future posts!

Trent Tetzlaff, senior journalism student, visits Mt. Simon, one of his favorite spots in Eau Claire. Tetzlaff will be running the blog and Facebook page for the Communication and Journalism Department this semester.

Trent Tetzlaff, senior journalism student, visits Mt. Simon, one of his favorite spots in Eau Claire. Tetzlaff will be running the blog and Facebook page for the Communication and Journalism Department this semester.

My name is Trent Tetzlaff; I am senior journalism major in my final semester as a Blugold. Although I came to campus my freshman year decided on my major, my interests and ideas of what I can do with it have changed year to year.

As a kid growing up a die-hard sports fan in the heart of Packer country, right after my years of athletics came to a close in high school, I set my eyes on becoming a sports reporter.

After four semesters in various positions with The Spectator, and nearly a year and a half working part-time in sports with the Leader-Telegram, I quickly learned a variety of skills I never could have imagined.

My work with the Leader-Telegram allowed me to not only work in the office taking box scores from prep sporting events, but it allowed me the opportunity to go out into the field and cover a variety of events. From Eau Claire Express games to the annual Buckshot Run held at Carson Park, all of these opportunities gave me an interesting new opportunity to gain interview and writing skills I didn’t have.

This semester will mark my fifth and final semester with the Spectator. In the past few years I have held staff writer, copy editor and sports editor positions and can credit a large portion of my journalism knowledge to the publication. The paper opened so many doors for me, and also gave me confidence in myself when it came to reporting early on.

In my work with the blog this semester I will be bringing you stories involving current and former students and faculty. My goal is to keep everyone in the know when it comes to that department this semester, and I will do my best work to offer that!

Writing It as You Go – How a CJ degree can open the doors to your dream career

Fall2015AlumniMagCoverThis week, we bring you a guest post from UW-Eau Claire public relations major Kate Niestrom, who shares her experiences working on “What’s Your CJ Story” a publication of CJ 373–Public Relations Writing.

Writing It as You Go-How a CJ degree can open the doors to your dream career

Kate Niestrom

When I first stepped onto the UW-Eau Claire campus, the only thing that I wanted to see was the journalism department. I walked into Hibbard, saw the CJC and knew this was where I belonged. I’ve wanted to be a writer since childhood, and what I found true of all of my favorite authors was that they had written for a magazine or newspaper. While I thought that my path would be unwavering when I began college, that didn’t end up being the case. I bounced from journalism to creative writing before settling in public relations. Here, I feel like I’ve found the best fit for me within the university, and after talking to CJ alumna Laura Lazewski, I’ve learned that the best careers aren’t always the ones you planned on having.

Like me, Lazewski had different plans when she first came to UW-Eau Claire. She first intended on working with professional sports teams, and thought that majoring in mass communication would be the best way to reach that goal. As she went on through the university, she explored marketing opportunities and travelled to other schools to experience life there. When she went into the workforce after leaving UW-Eau Claire, she carried this open-mindedness with her, eventually finding her perfect fit as a recruiter for a construction company.

From Lazewski’s story I’ve learned that you don’t need to follow your plan. Happiness can exist outside of what you initially outlined for yourself, and something better is often waiting for you when you choose to broaden your horizons. This is why being a mass communication major is perfect for me. Through the CJ department, I’ve learned skills that will benefit me in countless careers such as public speaking, how to ask good questions and answer them, and how to effectively interact with any audience.

But that’s just my story, and it’s still a work in progress. Through the “What’s Your CJ Story?” alumni magazine written by students in CJ 373, you can read the stories of 29 other mass communication majors and find out where their paths have taken them. These stories will show you how they’ve taken their communication skills and used them to find careers, whether they’ve stayed working in public relations or have gone elsewhere. To share your own story, contact Dr. Evan Perrault and you could be featured in next semester’s edition.

UWEC PRSSA Chapter wins Star Chapter Award at National Conference, Member Reflects on Experience

UW-Eau Claire’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter flew down to Atlanta, Georgia on Nov. 6 to attend PRSSA National Conference. PRSSA has been to National Conference before, and it is one of their most important events. There, they are able to attend helpful workshops and professional development sessions, and take public relations agency tours. This year, UW-Eau Claire’s chapter won the Star Chapter Award for the second year in a row. The Star Chapter Award is awarded to the most-deserving chapters who are intensely involved, and focus heavily on meeting the developmental goals and requirements. 


UW-Eau Claire PRSSA members with Star Chapter Award

After attending National Conference, UW-Eau Claire senior and PRSSA treasurer, Alysha Stoffel, was able to answer a few questions about her experiences: 

What are your biggest takeaways from National Conference?
I would say the biggest takeaways from national conference are 1) the importance of networking. It truly is all about who you know in PR after graduation. 2) PR is broad; with a degree in PR you can do anything you want, from traditional media relations, to social media, to marketing.
What is your favorite part about PRSSA?
My favorite part about PRSSA are the people involved in the organization. It’s great meeting people who love PR just as much as you do!
Why did you join PRSSA?
I joined PRSSA because I wanted to jump start my PR career through the workshops and networking opportunities the organization provides.
Dr. Evan Perrault, a CJ professor and PRSSA faculty adviser, was also able to answer a few questions regarding PRSSA and its benefits for UW-Eau Claire students:
Why is being involved in PRSSA beneficial for students?
​PRSSA is one of those organizations that really strives to provide practical, real-world, working knowledge to its members.  However, in order to get the most out of your membership, you really have to be proactive and be willing to get involved – just attending meetings (while beneficial) won’t offer you the greatest return on investment.  To succeed in the PR world today, students need to have a lot of experience before even applying to jobs.  While we as professors try to get students as much material as possible to go into portfolios, there is no substitute for out-of-class experiences that can lead to those real-world experiences employers are seeking in new hires.  A great part of PRSSA is that it has a blog where you can actually get pieces published.  It has an agency (Protege) where you can take-on real clients and produce public relations materials for them.  It has an organizational structure where you can either be elected or appointed to various positions to build leadership experiences.  There are too many benefits to PRSSA to fit in just one blog post.
Is PRSSA only beneficial for students with PR majors? 
​No way!  The best thing about PRSSA is that all the skills that you will learn as an active member are directly transferable to any career where communication plays a key role.  Learning how to effectively write a press release or a blog post helps you practice your general communication skills – skills that are needed in every industry.  While a student might major or get a degree in public relations, the job opportunities are endless.  Each semester I have my students in my Writing for Public Relations class interview PR alumni in “What’s Your CJ Story?” ( and the vast majority have gone onto careers outside of public relations, but use the skills they learned as a PR major, and in PRSSA, every day.
What has PRSSA done to help the university?
A strong PRSSA on-campus will lead to strong communicators, who will go out into society and tell their friends and colleagues about the value of a UW-Eau Claire education, which benefits the university.  Students in PRSSA also generally have jobs on-campus in various communication functions (whether it’s writing for the CJ blog, or doing social media for athletics) – and the skills they learn in PRSSA can be directly applied to their jobs on-campus, which again directly benefits the university.  
What skills are learned by students in PRSSA?
I think some of the most valuable skills learned by students in PRSSA are the practical skills necessary to succeed after graduation.  Students learn the importance of seeking internships, how to apply for jobs, and how to craft the most effective resumes and cover letters.  Students also are provided the opportunity to tour PR agencies in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and get a behind-the-scene look at what life in the PR world is really like.  The organization also brings in lots of guest speakers and industry professionals, which also helps students understand the PR world.  Finally, membership in PRSSA allows students access to a host of online resources provided by the national PRSSA that can help students become more effective PR practitioners.
Find more information about PRSSA National Conference here: 

UWEC Students Plan and Execute Event for High School Students Interested in Communication and Journalism

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, roughly 100 high school students, staff, and UWEC students in Professor Mary Hoffman’s event planning class attended the 2015 conference of the Chippewa Valley School Journalism Association (CVSJA). The event, held in Davies Student Center at UW-Eau Claire, is used to teach high school students more about career opportunities in the fields of communication and journalism. It also gives them the opportunity to visualize themselves in a college setting, and to increase their interest in attending college in general.




Beginning in September, Hoffman’s students contacted caterers, confirmed parking and transportation, coordinated with speakers, created graphics and promotions, and tried to get inside the minds of high school journalists.  Along the way they also learned how to plan community events.  Students agree that the class teaches skills that will be put to use in their future careers.

Holly Ordinans, a senior student in Hoffman’s class, was the hospitality director for the CVSJA event. When asked about CVSJA and the purpose of the event, Ordinans said that it not only allows students to attend workshops with professionals from the CJ field to learn more, but also enables them to interact one-on-one with the current CJ students. “We want them to envision themselves attending college, and bringing them to UWEC allows them to see that as a realistic option for their future,” Ordinans said.

Another event planning student, Matt Zavoral, was the assistant director of operations for the event. Zavoral said that one of his biggest takeaways from the event has been the importance of determining the objectives for all the attendees early in order to effectively prepare the whole event. Both Zavoral and Ordinans said that the major challenge in planning this event was, surprisingly, communication.

Communicating in a way to receive necessary feedback is a challenge that Zavoral had in his positition while trying to get feedback from high school students, while Ordinans’ main challenge was coordinating with the other event planning students, since it is such a large group trying to successfully execute this event. Both students overcame these challenges, saying the event was executed as planned, and the high school students were engaged.  A survey taken after the event by the high school students revelaed that most had learned something new about the CJ field. Overall, Ordinans and Zavoral stated that these challenges have better prepared them to attack communication problems head-on; these are challenges that can be turned into learning experiences they can apply to their communication and journalism careers.

Hoffman, who attend the event as a high school student, said she enjoys watching her students put what they learn in class into action and is also pleased by the amount of pride and commitment they show for the event. “Students really focus on their jobs and take ownership of the day. The event couldn’t happen without the work of the students in CJ 355.”

To learn more about CVSJA, visit:

Alumni: Do you have any stories about communication problems that helped build your problem-solving skills? Let us know in the comments!

Study abroad program has a lot to offer CJ students, says CJ study abroad returnee

Every fall semester, the UW-Eau Claire Center for International Education (CIE) hosts the Study Abroad Fair. There, students can get more information about study abroad options, and are able to speak with program representatives, and current UWEC students who have studied at program locations. Participating in study abroad is an especially great opportunity for studyabroadfaircommunication and journalism students because they can learn about communication from different perspectives and gain insight into other cultures that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise have by staying on campus.

On September 30th, crowds of students, representatives, staff, and faculty gathered in the Ojibwe Ballroom of the Davies center for the study abroad fair.

Organizational communication major and study abroad returnee, Claire Malchow, is the social media and marketing intern for the CIE. When asked about her study abroad experience, she said, “studying abroad was definitely one of the best decisions I made at UW-Eau Claire. You learn so much about yourself and about the world around you, and it also enhanced my cross-cultural communication and understanding skills. Although I studied in an English speaking country, it was a different culture and I was able to meet a lot of other international students.”


Malchow with friends at the University of Winchester, where she studied abroad.

Studying abroad gives students a chance to also take a wider variety of classes, or classes with a different perspective. “I took a communication class there and it was so beneficial to me to be able to learn about communication from another perspective and in a very different academic system. That’s why I think studying abroad is a great idea for all CJ majors, and the study abroad fair is a great place to start,” said Malchow.

According to Malchow, the CIE’s study abroad fair went very well, with student engagement being a top priority. “What I think is most helpful is that interested students can talk to program returnees about their host university. In this case, excitement can be infectious and it’s always so awesome to see that in action,” Malchow said.

Malchow said that her experience abroad has made her CJ degree at UW-Eau Claire so much richer and that the fair is a great place for students to start their journey.

Alumni–please use the comments to tell us where you studied abroad and what you learned!

CJ alum, Ginna Roe, wins Emmy award for her three-part story on Selma, Alabama


UW-Eau Claire and CJ Department Alumna, Ginna Roe, went to Selma, Alabama last March to report a story she felt needed to be told. The story, Wisconsin to Selma: Bringing History Home, is what won Roe a Midwest Regional Emmy Award this past year. Here is what she had to say about her experience, along with some advice for current CJ majors:

What have you been doing since you graduated from UW-Eau Claire?
I graduated in May of 2014 and I have been working in La Crosse at WXOW-TV as a multimedia journalist.

How has the CJ department at UW-Eau Claire prepared you for your current position?
The CJ department definitely prepared me to work as a reporter. My professors taught me how to ask all the right questions. They taught me to follow my curiosity and believe in my instincts. And of course, they taught me how to write as journalist. What makes a strong lead, A.P. style and so forth.

Tell me more about the Wisconsin to Selma: Bringing History Home story and your work in Selma (and your Emmy award!):
In March of last year I traveled to Selma, Ala. for the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Somehow I convinced my bosses to send me down there all by myself. Well, I wasn’t entirely by myself. Once I got there I actually met up with Jan Larson and her journalism students. They were nice enough to let me stay with them.

While there I interviewed all sorts of people from the original foot soldiers who marched in Bloody Sunday 50 years prior, to an organization I believe is truly leading the movement of today, the Freedom Foundation. I completed three pieces, one that was reflective of the movement back then and the actual events of Bloody Sunday, another that was about the city of Selma and where it is now, that includes all of the poverty and disparity that still exist in Selma. And the third was about the future of Selma and the Civil Rights Movement and how a young man from Wisconsin is helping to lead that movement.

What inspired you to work on that project?
My inspiration began at UWEC when I went on the Civil Rights Pilgrimage. I was changed as person on that trip and it really helped ignite a passion within me.

Do you have any favorite courses or experiences from UW-Eau Claire that have influenced your work?
Once again I would say the Civil Rights Pilgrimage. It opened to my eyes to injustices I had never recognized before and me want to do my part to fight back against those injustices.

Do you have any advice for students graduating as they are entering the working world?
It may not be easy. Your first job may not be what you expected necessarily but if you are doing work that you are passionate about, keep going!

For more information about past Civil Rights Pilgrimage trips, check out the UWEC Civil Rights Pilgrimage Blog!

Alumni: What were your most influential experiences from UW-Eau Claire? Let us know in the comments!

Fall Semester Proves Exciting for New CJ Department Intern

Hello there! Fall is always an exciting time; it’s the start of a new school year here at UW-Eau Claire, the leaves turn colors, and there are new opportunities everywhere. I’m especially enthusiastic about starting this semester because I will be overseeing this blog, as well as the Facebook page for the Communication and Journalism department.

My name is Sarah Hunter and I am a senior advertising and multimsarahhunter_socialmediainternedia communication student. I love being a student at UW-Eau Claire, and I also work at our University’s bookstore and am a member of the Advertising Federation.
I have a passion for media, especially television, and in my free time, I like to run and cycle, as well as spend time with friends. Travelling is another passion I have, especially after I studied abroad in Winchester, England my sophomore year. I’m graduating this spring semester, and am looking forward to backpacking across Europe in the summer, and also starting this new post-collegiate chapter of my life!

I have great plans for this blog; I plan on posting stories about current news and events that are significant to the communication and journalism department. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions!

My summer in the swamp

Editor’s note: Courtney Kueppers is a senior journalism and political science student at UW-Eau Claire. She spent the summer interning for the Star Tribune-DC bureau. Last spring Kueppers interned for the CJ Department and helped run this blog. She will graduate in December.



When I arrived in Washington in late May it was indeed as hot as everyone — including Chancellor James Schmidt — had warned me it would be. I had taken a few short jaunts to the district, including the classic American middle school trip in seventh grade, but this was to be my first extended stay.

I very much brought my Midwest roots with me, and I’m not just talking about the Minnesotan accent my new friends mocked every time I said “bag” or “boat.” I had a number of experiences that connected Washington to “Wisconsin’s most beautiful campus.” Here are some of those accounts of connecting campus to the capital:

For starters, I was in Washington because of a program called Washington Center of Politics and Journalism, which two of my friends and former coworkers at The Spectator, Alex Zank and Nate Beck, are also alum of. The program is run by a man named Terry Michael, whose undergraduate journalism professor in Illinois was UWEC Professor Emeritus Henry Lippold. My first Blugold connection.

A number of the connections I encountered can be attributed to the Ann Devroy Fellowship. Devroy, a 1970 UW-Eau Claire journalism graduate, went on to cover the White House for 15 years until her death in 1997. The first Devroy-related encounter was a trip to The Washington Post to see the newsroom and meet some of the people I’ll work with in January as a part of the fellowship. It was the first time in DC, but not the last, I heard Devroy’s former coworkers talk about her talent and tenacity.

I also received a joyous hug one night from Andrea Mitchell, NBC news correspondent and 2004 Devroy Forum speaker, when I mentioned Devroy’s name. And one day at a lunch time seminar, Ron Fournier, a National Journal columnist, told me Devroy was one of the best and toughest reporters ever to work the White House beat.

One of Fournier’s coworkers at the National Journal offshoot, The Next America, is Janie Boschma, UWEC alumna and Devroy Fellow. She and I grabbed coffee one day in the historic Watergate Complex and also crossed paths at a picnic at the home of Craig Gilbert and Carol Guensburg (a UWEC journalism alumna). Craig and Carol graciously host the Devroy fellows every January. Their generosity and kindness cannot be overstated.

The picnic was the culmination of my UWEC run-ins in Washington. Devroy Fellows Breann Schossow and Taylor Kuether were there, as well as alumnus Brian Reisinger and Ann Devroy’s widower Mark Matthews. As I looked around that picnic, I felt unbelievably fortunate to be receiving my journalism degree from UW-Eau Claire, to be a Devroy Fellow and to be spending my summer working for the paper I was raised on: The Star Tribune.

Devroy Fellows Courtney Kueppers, Taylor Kuether, Breann Schossow and Janie Boschma with Ann Devroy's widower Mark Matthews this summer near Washington, DC.

Devroy Fellows Courtney Kueppers, Taylor Kuether, Breann Schossow and Janie Boschma with Ann Devroy’s widower Mark Matthews this summer near Washington, DC.

When I returned to the Midwest in early August I paid a visit to the Star Tribune’s mothership in downtown Minneapolis. At a morning story meeting, Star Tribune Deputy Sports Editor Chris Carr, the first ever Devroy Fellow, sat next to me. We talked about The Spectator, The Leader-Telegram and the fellowship. He was the final Blugold connection of my summer in the swamp.

What I learned is, we may be a small Wisconsin university, but alumni of our department will go to the ends of the world for each other. I am honored to be in such great company whether it is on campus or from a far.


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