Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

City of Writers

Iowa City is a place known for football, drinking and college students. However, underneath the standard college student activities, is a world of young writers, each developing their own voice.

It is no doubt that the University of Iowa is known for its writing programs, Undergraduate and Graduate. With so many strong voices in one town, you would think it would be intimidating; but not for Iowa Junior, Bryn Lovitt.

Bryn Lovitt

Since the age of seven, Lovitt has always had a fascination for writing. She even credits a computer game entitled, “The Secret Writers Society”, for kick starting her love and appeal for writing.

“It’s been my one consistent, creative outlet my entire life,” stated Lovitt. “It’s not so much that I want to do this for a career, more it’s just who I’ve become”.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, like many other aspiring writers, Lovitt found Iowa City and the University the perfect place to further her writing education.

“I wanted to go to a place where writing was appreciated. And I felt that where I was at for the first 18 years of my life, was the not the right place for me”.

In regards to her writing education and really understanding the craft, Lovitt stressed the importance of knowing everything there is to know about writing itself.

She commented that it would be virtually impossible to really be a good writer without reading about writing and writing every single day.

With such a strong devotion and love for writing, it is no wonder that Lovitt is the co-founder of the local group, “Iowa City Writers”.

“It started up just as an idea I had with a friend of mine freshman year, who was also into writing. Then more people got interested at it just became something bigger,” commented Lovitt.

Stemming from the English Department here at the University of Iowa, Iowa City Writers gives anyone the chance to submit a piece of writing and have it critiqued by students such as Lovitt.

“It’s really refreshing to find someone who loves writing as much as I do,” stated Cole Konopka, the other founder of Iowa City Writers. “That’s really hard to find in a city dominated by people who tend to be more concerned with drinking”.

Although the group had a big of a rocky start, the founders have begun to see a very positive reaction from the general public.

“Anyone that falls in love with their first draft is an idiot,” stated Lovitt. “Our goal is to help people with their writing while maintaining a positive and sincere critique”.

At each meeting, the group spends the first 20-30 minutes reading any writing they would feel open to sharing. This really allows each writer to show the others ‘what they’ve got’.

The last 30 minutes of the meeting are set aside for the formal workshop aspect of the group, where two pieces will be critiqued.

These workshops are also opened to any type of writing, long or short. Poems, fiction, non-fiction, anything and everything is welcome.

For Lovitt, reading the submissions and providing feedback are her favorite parts of the entire experience.

“I’m the main contact for people submitting writing to the workshop, so I do a lot of reading,” commented Bryn. “It’s fun and interesting to see what stories people come up with”.

“It’s been a really rewarding process so far. I feel so honored to have been elected such a high position in the group,” stated Lovitt.

Lovitt shared a few words of advice for perspective submitters. Here is a list of just a few,

  1. If you’re hesitant about submitting, always do. It’s hard to get improve if you don’t take criticism and learn from your mistakes.
  2. Don’t be afraid. We maintain a really positive environment that welcomes inexperienced and experienced writers. Everyone’s welcome.
  3. Have fun. It’s all about learning to love writing!

Lovitt plans on continuing on with the Iowa City Writers community until she graduates. After graduation, she foresees graduate school, like many others. The University of Texas at Austin, which was voted one of the best graduate programs for writing, is among the top of her list.

When I asked her if she ever considered the Writer’s Workshop here at Iowa, she noted that it was a really good program, but that she would like to branch out and find somewhere new to spread her craft.

It does not matter if you are 20 or 50, if you find something you are passionate about, grab a hold of it with everything you have, Bryn Lovitt surely has.

For anyone who is interested in submitting a piece for critique, visit the Iowa City Writers Facebook Page. Or visit their page through the English Society website at the University of Iowa.


Look Up, Stories Are All Around

Being a journalist in today’s time may seem a little difficult to accomplish because of the decline of print and increase of television and internet coverage. One successful journalist though did the best he could to become the journalist he and everyone knew he could become. Stephen Bloom is a well known professor and author here at the University of Iowa and his effort shows how much hard work he has put forth throughout his life until now.

Bloom graduated with a B.A from Berkeley, the University of California in 1973. Journalism was the only thing Bloom was good at, he was bad at math, and journalism was the only thing he had any hope he could accomplish.

“Without Journalism, I would be homeless.” Explains Bloom.

Bloom tried to get out into the job field determined to put his skills to the test, but it was next to impossible to find a job. Everyone talks about how bad the job market is now; Bloom says that it was just as bad back then. In order to get a job, Bloom actually had to leave America and went to Brazil where he worked at a newspaper company. When he came back, journalists were losing their jobs and there was a plummet in journalism. Bloom worked for a few different companies as a reporter and got recognized for the immaculate work that he provided. The companies were The Sacramento Bee, The San Jose Mercury News, the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Morning News. The Dallas Morning News was Bloom’s favorite job that he worked at because it was such a competitive atmosphere. There were two papers, one for the morning and afternoon; you can have any good idea and the editor will reply with, “Run it”. If a newspaper company sends one reporter and cameraman to a spot to get a story, the Dallas Morning News would send two reporters and cameramen. His work started to show up in a plethora of popular magazines and newspapers, highlighting his talent. Some well known sources that issued Bloom’s work were the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. The first time Bloom’s work got published was when he was in college working at the campus newspaper. He worked at a part time job at an assembly line, pushing a button to lower fruit cocktails twice a minute. The job was so easy and boring that Bloom decided to write a story about it entitled, “The Cannery Connection”. Bloom was surprised one day though when he picked up the New York Times and there was his story, published in the newspaper. After that, his talent continued to expand.

Big Change, New Stories

Bloom was a big city kind of guy and in 1993 he made a drastic change to move to Iowa City, a considerable smaller choice to live. Along by his side was Bloom’s wife and son, his success soon began to develop here at the University. He wanted to do more long form writing, the stories in California were just getting too simplistic to do. Iowa was a new frontier for Bloom and everything was new to him. There were so many good story ideas in Iowa City for Bloom because he didn’t know anything about Iowa.

Writing books seem to be like a never ending process; it takes about a full five years. You have to come up with the idea, propose it, get an agent, convince the editor that the story is marketable, and do the reporting and writing.

“It can either be exhilarating, or suck the life right out of you.” Bloom stressed.

A novel that grasped a wide variety of people’s attention and especially got noticed by people who lived in small Iowa towns was written by Bloom in September 2008. The title was “The Oxford Project”, and Bloom had a co-author who was the photographer as well. This novel examines life in a rural Iowa community, Oxford, 20 years ago and Oxford now. Bloom had a very educational time examining the town and its community and people opened up to Bloom with no problem. Bloom believes that everyone has a story to tell, no matter if in New York or a small town. He did seem to have a closer relationship with the people in Oxford though, because it was such a small community and a lot more ground was covered in such a quick amount of time it seemed like. Bloom always enjoys talking to barbers, bakers or bartenders instead of mayors or politicians because he wants to know what really makes the town tick rather than talking to someone who cares mostly about themselves.  After the novel was finished, there was an art exhibition of the photographs and text, another successful moment for Bloom.

Bloom’s most recent book is entitled, “Tears of Mermaids: The Secret Story of Pearls”, published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. This story chronicles the cultural, economic and political saga of pearls, the world’s first gem. It begins with Columbus’ third voyage to the New World and follows with narratives in numerous different countries such as Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines. According to Bloom, nature’s oldest request is “Tell me a story”. He is always looking for a good story to tell people and there are good stories ideas everywhere. It may even be as simple as getting inspiration from a pearl necklace to make you travel over 30,000 miles in order to discover the secret behind them.

Hard Work Never Goes Unnoticed

Bloom has been a guest speaker at various different locations. He likes to cover as much as he can in his speeches in order to share with people his life story and how he got to where he is today but two words he always says are “Look up”. Bloom wants people to know that there’s drama swirling around and it needs to be noticed because a story could be held within. Bloom is a constant observer and that’s how he gets his story ideas and information. He has no recall for numbers, but Bloom will never forget a face because he is all about the visual effects. With all of Bloom’s accomplishments, it would only seem appropriate that he received some recognition and that’s exactly what he got only a couple short weeks ago. The University of Iowa honored Bloom with the Robert Laxalt Distinguished Writer Program which honors the memory of one of Nevada’s finest writers, Bob Laxalt. Bloom is the seventh writer to be honored for this award.

From not knowing what lied ahead for him in the future during college, Bloom became a very successful author, journalist and professor who still impresses people with his skills today. Being a journalist in today’s time may seem to be a little difficult, but through Bloom’s eyes, it’s nothing that can’t be accomplished. Bloom doesn’t really have any hobbies, he likes to work out every morning but other than that, he is always working and says that being a writer is the best job around. Interview with Bloom.

“I have no stamp collection, I don’t make model airplanes…Writing consumes my life.” Explains Bloom.

Bloom did recently get in touch with his New York agent to pitch his story idea for his new book, “Three Seconds – A Story of Crime, Punishment, and Absolution in the American Heartland”. It will be five more years of the reporting and writing process for Bloom. He is also planning on teaching in London this summer. His class will be about British media, which he knows nothing about but hopes to learn. It’s a three week class for the University of Iowa students and Bloom is excited to experience it.

Finding Balance

It’s 7 a.m., Monday morning, and junior Leah Conroy is awoken by the high-pitched beeps blaring from her cell phone, an alarm the 20-year-old set just five hours earlier.

Conroy finished her closing shift at DC’s bar in downtown Iowa City at 2 a.m. and curled up in her bed after packing her lunch and laying out her scrubs for the rapidly approaching eight hour school day.

The UI Radiology student takes classes at the UI Hospital, five days a week, eight hours a day, while also juggling her part-time job at DC’s where she averages 40-hours a week.

When Conroy made her decision to attend Iowa in 2008, she was aware of her new financial burden that accompanied being a Hawkeye.
But when Iowa City passed its new 21-ordinance in June 2010, Conroy wasn’t ready for the toll the regulation would take on her income.

Financial Responsibilities
The Byron Ill. native knew she wanted to be a Hawkeye during her senior year of high school.

But Conroy was no exception to her two older sisters, Emily 24, Haylee 23, both of whom took complete financial responsibility for their college expenses.

Despite working at DC’s for over two years, Conroy said time management has still been an ongoing problem throughout her college career.

“The toughest part about managing [work and school] is probably getting over scheduled at work,” Conroy said. “I only have a couple hours after school to do homework and then I have to go in and close. I’m exhausted the next day for class, but I don’t have a choice I have to work”

Conroy said she uses student loans to pay her tuition and depends on her DC’s pay checks for rent and utility bills, parking expenses, groceries, and miscellaneous costs, a total she estimated to be about 600 dollars.

21- ordinance

Dc’s has always been a 21-only bar, which Conroy said makes the ordinances’ impact less detrimental, but still noticeable.

“The whole scene of downtown is totally different,” she said. ”Since there are less people [downtown] there are obviously less in the bars. You can really tell the affects on the weekday nights that used to be busy like our Tuesdays,  but now maybe one random bar a night will get busy and that’s about it.”

Conroy said prior to the 21-ordinance she earned an average of $70 a night on weeknights and $150 per night on weekends.
Football season has helped maintain the weekend crowds in DC’s, but Conroy said she has seen her weekday incomes dwindle to fewer than 20 dollars on certain occasions.

“You don’t know your money like you used to,” Conroy said. “You used to know by day a minimum of what you’d probably make, but now its luck of the draw on what nights are going to be busy.”

Conroy’s roommate, junior Julie Euyoque works at Bo James, another previously 21-only bar.

Euyoque too claims sole responsibility for her college finances, and depends on her biweekly Bo James paycheck to cover her bills.

Conroy’s roommate said because she works mostly lunch shifts during the week, her income has been dramatically lower because students seem to be avoiding the bars all together.

“The ordinance has had a domino affect,” Euyoque said. “We were a 21-only bar before so the night shifts haven’t been hurt as bad, but during the day students just don’t go downtown anymore to even eat or shop, so they aren’t aware of even the lunch deals we have.”

Conroy said her job at DC’s hasn’t been producing enough income to pay her monthly expenses and if the 21- ordinance doesn’t get reversed, she will be forced to seek employment out of the bars.

Conroy (left), Euyoque (right), enjoying their time away from school and work.

School Commitments
The UI Radiology school’s schedule mirrors the hours of a full-time job, a task that Conroy said she was originally ready to handle.

When the junior was accepted into the radiology program in 2009, she had no choice but to quickly master prioritizing school and work responsibilities.

“I have just gotten used to being tired,” Conroy said. “I usually sleep five hours a night at the most. After school I have to decide whether I can afford to take a nap before work or if I have to study for that extra few hours.”

Despite the class and work overload, Conroy has managed to maintain a B-average her sophomore year, and said she is steadily improving on that feat.

Conroy’s other roommate, junior Amanda Duski, questioned her housemate’s ability to juggler her priorities.

“I don’t know how [Leah] does [balances school and work],” Duski said. “I’ve never had a job in college and I still feel tons of pressure from school and feel like I never have any free time, she’s nuts.”

Facing the end with grace

Before she began guiding patients through their final stages of life, Ann Broderick followed a fascinating (and global) path to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

By Lauren Sieben

Ann Broderick is a woman who loves her job, despite one aspect that troubles her: the recurring misunderstanding of her work as a palliative and hospice care provider.

Ann Broderick

Ann Broderick at the Java House in downtown Iowa City (Photo: Lauren Sieben)

“My job has never been to pull plugs, and it never will be to pull plugs,” Broderick said.

Broderick is an associate professor at the University of Iowa and the director of palliative care at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The World Health Organization defines palliative care as relief for the pain and symptoms of disease, but it is a treatment that “intends neither to hasten or postpone death.”

“We physicians assume that our role is to prevent death; my point is that our role is to prevent premature death,” Broderick said. “Our role isn’t to prevent this physiologic event from happening in every single person.”

A global upbringing

Broderick’s path to palliative care – and to Iowa – was far from linear. Between the time she was born in New Hampshire and the year she left for college at Princeton University, Broderick spent most of her childhood apart from her East-coast roots.

At age 7 she moved to Ghana during her father’s tenure in the Peace Corps. In Africa she developed an unusually keen understanding of international issues for a child.

When Broderick was 9 years old, the family returned stateside to Appleton, Wisconsin, moving every two years for her father’s job. The constant movement left Broderick feeling “a little bit like I was an army brat.”

During and after college, Broderick spent time teaching English in Bogotá, Colombia. She planned to become a K-12 Spanish teacher, but when she faced a dismal job market in the early 1980s, Broderick enrolled in math and science classes. She hoped to market herself as a bilingual teacher in a more specialized field.

”Lo and behold, I got an A in organic chemistry,” she said. “That was a quick moment where I thought ‘Maybe I can go to medical school.’ ”

Iowa City roots

When it came time to consider medical schools, Iowa was a natural first choice.

Broderick’s parents met in Iowa City – her mother’s hometown – and her grandfather was a former researcher and faculty member at the university medical school before he died in a traffic accident in the 1930s.

“It felt natural to come back to Iowa and pick up that legacy,” Broderick said. “It was a professional career that was at its peak and it was really quite a tragic death.”

Her interest in palliative care developed gradually, due in part to her volunteer work at Iowa City Hospice, and also to her father’s death. He was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer in Broderick’s fourth year as a medical student.

“For my father, dying at the age of 69 was desperately premature,” she said. “He still took great pleasure in reading the newspaper and staying up to date with politics and watching the world unfold, as well as watching his family unfold.”

In his 60s, Broderick’s father had also recently graduated from law school. At that stage in life he was unprepared to face death, and he died without receiving hospice services.

“Did that prompt me to do this? Probably,” Broderick said. “Probably the sense that there was an unmet need for my father.

“[My mother], I think, had a sense of shame about her impatience with him, because his care was so exhausting. In retrospect I wish she could have been there as his loving wife, which she was, and not as the person doing personal cares.”

Hospice: “Not doom and gloom”

Hospice is a support network for patients and their families: nurses, spiritual chaplains and social workers work together to address physical symptoms of disease along with spiritual and psychological effects of grief.

Though her father wasn’t able to receive hospice care, Broderick has been able to guide numerous other families through the process.

In 2001, she became the director of the Palliative Care Program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Along with teaching medical students and residents, Broderick also co-teaches an undergraduate course in the rhetoric department with lecturer Patrick Dolan. The course combines a volunteer commitment at Iowa City Hospice with an in-class reading-and-writing component.

Glen Cox has known Broderick since around 2000, when he began driving his parents to their medical appointments. His father died in 2005, and his mother, at 84, continues to face a multitude of ailments.

“Dr. Broderick was spot on as far as what she wanted to see happen to my parents,” Cox said. “She always took into consideration what their wishes were. She didn’t want to prescribe treatments or medications that would put them through an ordeal they didn’t really need to go through.”

And for Broderick, the patient’s wishes are the core of palliative care. Hospice centers are legally barred from recruiting patients – anyone who receives palliative care seeks it voluntarily.

“We shouldn’t mystify death by saying everybody needs to have time in an [Intensive Care Unit] or have a hospitalized component to their death,” Broderick said. “They might elect not to. And some do … When we arrive we’re not doom and gloom; we’re helping people make decisions.”


Click to listen a sound bite of the interview with Ann Broderick

Finding the right path

By Robbie Lehman

Surrounded by the abundance of Iowa Hawkeye memorabilia in his bedroom, PJ Smith feels comfortable, like he’s on the right track.

As a swimmer at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa, Smith had no idea that injuring his sternoclavicular joint would be a defining moment in his life—the moment that propelled him on the right track.

The injury helped Smith discover that the right track for him was to pursue a career in the field of health care.

Now a 21-year-old senior at the University of Iowa, Smith has been a student athletic trainer for the Hawkeye wrestling and football teams, and is currently working with the field hockey squad.

Smith says he enjoys every minute of it.

“I’ve always been interested in the human body and how it works,” he said. “I think from that aspect it’s neat to solve problems and to have that trust with athletes that will come to you.”

PJ Smith

Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Smith was educated in the rich tradition of Iowa athletics and what it means to call the “Hawkeye State” home. It was a no-brainer for Smith to come to the UI for college.

The right path once he got here, though, wasn’t so easy to find. He new he wanted to be involved in health care of some sort, just not exactly in what capacity. He switched from a pre-med focus during freshman orientation. Taking a shot, he applied to the Iowa Athletic Training program, one of the best in the Big Ten if not nationally, and was accepted.

It was a perfect fit for Smith, the perfect combination of sports and health care.

Now, three years later, Smith has a wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience under his belt. He is a believe in the saying, “You get out what you put in.” He lives up this, logging hours of time during practices, games and traveling with field hockey, all while keeping up on his class work. Time commitment is the nature of the job, he says.

For a sports fan like Smith, athletic training hardly seems like work. He’s the type of person who loves to be around the action, and he hasn’t questioned his career path once.

“Ever since I got in [to the athletic training program], just working with athletes and being around sports, helping with every sport from wrestling to football and now field hockey… It’s been quite the transformation from what I thought I would do to where I’m at now,” Smith said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to second guess or look back at all.”

Relationships are also what Smith enjoys about being an athletic trainer, and not only with the athletes and coaches he works with. He’s met some of his best friends in the program. He also benefits from what he calls “a great staff” of instructors and professionals in the Iowa program.

John Streif, assistant athletic trainer, has been at the University of Iowa since 1972. It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about the occupation. He also sees qualities in Smith that he believes will take him far in his chosen profession.

“PJ is a hard working, dedicated individual that is a true, true Hawk,” Streif said. “He loves to be with the Hawks and loves to be along the program and a part of it. He’s got a great future as an athletic trainer.”

Smith’s hobbies pretty much revolve around sports. Big surprise. He doesn’t get to ski as much as he used to, but he loves taking trips to Colorado. He still swims when he has the time to workout, and spends his Sundays rooting for the Green Bay Packers. And as if he’s not busy enough already, he also works at T-Spoons Coffee Café in Iowa City.

But training is where Smith is in his element. He believes there is something more to being an athletic trainer than what people see on the surface.

“It’s a power, but I think it’s a privilege also to have that knowledge to be able to have someone come to you in a time of need and to be there for them,” Smith said

Other than it being time consuming, Smith hasn’t had any negative experiences as an athletic trainer that he can remember. His favorite memory was traveling to Ames for the Iowa-Iowa State wrestling meet in 2009, which the No. 1-ranked Hawkeyes won, 18-16.

Smith’s dream job is to work with a Division I university or a professional sports team. As for the immediate future, he plans on graduating this coming May. He’s currently looking into graduate schools to further his study and practice in athletic training. Schools such as Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Iowa are on his short list.

A new path looms for Smith, one that may possibly take him away from home, and he knows it. As the Iowa native and lifelong Hawkeye fan sits in his black and gold-decorated bedroom, wearing an Iowa Sports Medicine t-shirt, he talks wanting to find a new experience after graduation. He is looking forward to the next step in his career, keeping on the right track, wherever it ends up taking him.

One thing is certain no matter where he goes. Smith will always keep the beloved Hawkeyes in his heart.

Putting Controllers In People’s Hands

Kasey Black took the brand new Wii and placed it in a plastic bag as he smiled at his customers.  He thanked them for coming into the store and then walked away chuckling to himself.

“They only wanted the Wii, but I also sold em’ five games and two remotes,” Black said gleefully.

These are the kinds of experiences that Black has on a daily basis.  He sells video games.  He’s the manager of a local video game store in Coralville called Video Games ETC. Black describes himself as very competitive, saying that he wants to set an example for his coworkers.

“Our main goal as employees is to provide a service to customers.  A lot of people are unfamiliar with video games and it’s our job to help them figure out what they want,” Black said.

Driven by a love for video games, Black enjoys not only getting to talk about games with customers, but also his fellow employees.

“There are a lot of people like me here,” Black said.

This passion for gaming started at a young age for Black.  When he was six years old he received a Super Nintendo for Christmas.  He would play it every day after school, regardless of the amount of homework he had.

According to Black, part of the reason the Super Nintendo was so fascinating to him is it fed his competitive side.

“I would practice every day at Super Mario Kart.  I had to beat my older brother, I just had to,” Black said.

Competition wasn’t what made gaming a passion however.  It was in-depth role-playing games that would keep him coming back to the controller for years to come.  Role-playing games focus on story and characters to draw you into a world.

“I remember playing Final Fantasy II on the Super Nintendo for the first time.  I had never encountered a game quite like it before.  It blew me away,” Black said.  “I love the feeling of getting immersed in a game like Final Fantasy.”

An element of role-playing games that Black said carries over into his work is problem solving.  On a typical day, he starts out with bookwork and then has to figure out how the store will be successful for the day.  Every day is different, he has to account for big game releases, or a new system launch, or even simply if a holiday is approaching.

Because some days demand more than others, Black says that he has to divide them into two different categories, training days and selling days.

“There are some days where there is just simply too much going on to try to explain new store polices, or make sure everyone is doing the right thing,” Black said.  “Some days we just have to get out there and push merchandise.”

Unfortunately pushing merchandise is also where Black thinks he encounters his biggest challenge, customer service.  Whether it’s people trying to talk him into lowering prices, attempting to sell stolen merchandise, or swearing in the store, Black says he always has to keep a close watch on what’s going on.

“The most difficult thing is trying to explain cash refunds to people.  If you open a product and use it, we can’t sell it as new anymore.  So we can’t give you your cash back,” Black said.

Another problem, and a thing Black said he would like to change, would be how the store handles their trade-in program.  Trade-in is something the store offers where customers can bring in their used merchandise for either cash or in-store credit.  Used merchandise is the most profitable thing at Video Games ETC. according to Black.

“We hardly make any money on new stuff, our priority and our specialty has and always will be used merchandise,” Black said.

If the store could be more discrete with what they take in, Black thinks they could be even more profitable with their trade-in program.

“We give too much for worthless old games and not enough on hot new games.  We have to do better at enticing people to trade-in things that will sell and discourage them from bringing in things that won’t,” Black said.

Even with offering lower prices by selling used merchandise, brick and mortar video game stores may not be around forever thanks to digital distribution.  Though in its infancy with games, services like Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network and WiiWare have proven that digital is the future.  Black agrees, and thinks that this is the way retailers need to start seeing the game market.

“Nobody likes change, but it is easier and more convenient.  It will probably be cheaper because of not needing raw materials to make the disc and case.  I definitely think we are moving towards and will eventually be 100 percent digital.”


Kasey Black audio interview

Not Your Stereotypical Sorority Girl

Jenna Wilson (By:Jessica Heemsbergen)

Recruiting new Alpha Xi Deltas, consoling a fellow sister, cramming for an exam, and planning for the future may sound hectic, but that is just a typical day in the life of Jenna Wilson.

This summer, Jenna flew to New York to work as an intern at BWR Public Relations. BWR Public Relations specializes in entertainment and fashion. At BWR Public Relations Jenna learned how to construct media kits and write press releases just like the professionals do.

Jenna’s internship gave her a chance to re-evaluate her future job plans.

“From my internship I learned that I didn’t want to do public relations for fashion or entertainment. I wanted to do something more meaningful. I would like to do public relations work possibly for a theatre company. Even though I wouldn’t get paid as much money for it,” said Jenna


Jenna always knew that she wanted to do something in the journalism field, but she was unsure as to what that exactly might be.

“I first tried broadcasting, but it just wasn’t for me. So I then decided to take a public relations class even though I wasn’t 100% sure what public relations was when I first signed up for the class,” said Jenna

After taking a PR class, Jenna realized she had been doing PR work in her sorority for years.

“The sorority is like a business. You have to appeal to different types of girls to get them interested in joining the sorority. This is similar to doing PR work.” said Jenna.

Jenna acknowledges that the Alpha Xi Delta sorority uses several PR tactics during recruitment. When it comes to COBing (continuous open bidding), Jenna says it is fun to see all her hard work being carried out and watching her chapter grow. Jenna believes the PR work she has done in the sorority has increased her interest in the PR industry.


Jenna joined Alpha Xi Delta sorority in the fall of 2007.  Since then, she has taken on several jobs within the organization including Sisterhood Chair, Chaplin, and COB Chair.

She has done these jobs while also juggling a double major in Journalism/ Mass Communication and Theater. Jenna hopes to pursue a public relations career that incorporates both of her majors.

 “I know that I want a career in public relations. However, I love theater and I would like to be able to find a job where I could apply both my majors to,” said Jenna.


“Jenna is definitely one of the leaders in the sorority. She always listens to everyone’s problems, helps assist the new girls and just tries to cheer everyone up.” said Lindsay Castellano, a fellow Alpha Xi Delta member.

The girls in the house view Jenna as a motivated, outspoken, and independent woman. Jenna laughs at that statement and says she owes the sorority for making her the woman she is today.

 “Before I joined the sorority I used to be kind of shy and quiet,” said Jenna.

 The girls tease Jenna and say that they cannot get her to stop talking now.

Jenna even manages to find sisters hundreds of miles away from home. While working at BWR Public Relations, Jenna started talking to one her fellow interns. After talking for a while, they realized that they were both members of the Alpha Xi Delta Sorority.

“I was kind of surprised at first, but then I just thought that it was cool that I got to meet another Alpha Xi Delta from a different chapter,” said Jenna.

Jenna also mentioned that it was nice to bond with a fellow Alpha Xi Delta and it just proves that when you are in sorority you are never alone.


Jenna has already started to make plans to go back to New York after she graduates in May 2011.She has even applied to become a Dream Careers summer leader for 2011.

Although a summer leadership position is not what she necessary wants to do, it is a stepping stone to achieving her dream. Jenna believes that she has a good chance of getting the summer leadership position with Dream Careers in 2011.

Since the start of the term, Jenna has been working hard to improve her resume and get more experience in public relations field.

“I currently have two internships right now. One is for Dream Careers distributing fliers and doing some PR work for the organization. I also just recently got a PR internship at Hancher, so I am pretty excited,” said Jenna

Jenna has big dreams and she is determined to accomplish them.

“I know that New York is where I want to live and find my future career. Whether I get the job or not I am still going to move out to New York this summer,” said Jenna.

By: Jessica Heemsbergen

Also check out Sorority Stereotypes Revealed and Sororities Give Back To The Community

Jon Eric Livens Up Iowa City with His Banjo

Jon Eric. Banjo Player.

What an interesting business card; one I had received the first night I met Jon Eric.

I had always been quite involved in the local music scene, especially in the country-folk genre, so when I heard a banjo being played on a porch on the way to my friend’s place, I was quite intrigued. I walked slowly to listen to as much as I could, when someone from the porch yelled down and asked me to come listen.

I couldn’t say no.

When I got up the steps, I was in heaven. There were three guys with guitars and one with a banjo. They handed me a beer and started jamming with each other, while the other spectators closed their eyes and moved to the beat. I left the porch with a song written about me and with ten or so new friends, one being the banjo player, Jon Eric.

I have seen Jon Eric spontaneously since then, and he is always one with the people. He will pick up the banjo if you say you want to hear him play. He will jam with anyone. He shares his music with anyone willing to listen. It is the attitude of someone who truly loves what he does. How many people can say that?


It is something that everyone owns and everyone sells. Everyone has their own price at which their time can be bought.

This is a philosophy of Iowa City banjo player Jon Eric’s.

“Money can always be replaced. Time can never be replaced.”

For someone who makes a living off of playing music, he uses his time wisely.


Jon Eric picked up the banjo at nine years old and had only nine months of formal training. He was a fast learner, to say the least. That same year, he was playing in Ryman Auditorium of the Grand Ole Opry with his family band.

Eric went to school for percussion – drums where they “taught theory, but not how to apply it.” He got a job as a painting contractor, but at twenty-one years old, he realized that he wanted to own his time, and not sell it to someone else.

Iowa City

Originally from the D.C. area, six years ago Eric decided to move to Iowa City after visiting only once.

“It was the music scene. The people here are stellar, you know, the Midwest type; they have a hearty way. And the extreme temperatures – keeps the bad people away.”

For as much as he has brought to the Midwest, he has learned from it as well. He describes the local musicians as more of a team than competition. He posts links to other artists’ shows on his websites, for example. “It’s humbling to support other people’s music. The Midwest taught me that.”

He has also brought a new kind of banjo sound to the area, a more adaptable and fresh sound. As Eric describes it, “I threw Iowa black dirt into it to make it gritty and dirty.”

Jon Eric plays at open mic night at The Mill, Iowa City



To get his name out there, Eric utilized the networking capabilities of the Internet to the extreme. He has accounts on Myspace, YouTube (he has over 180,000 hits), Facebook, and his own website, among others, to promote himself and his music.

He teaches  on Skype to about 58 studentsall over the world from seven different time zones, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, all who had heard of him through his online promotions.

Being a solo artist, Eric is not lacking in offers. He has played in multiple music festivals, one most recently at the Iowa City Fairgrounds, and with countless bands and artists. “Iowa City is a hot bed of talent. I’m humbled to be a part of it.”

Despite his growing popularity, he still does not want a manager because he does not want to “lose sight of what really matters, and that is the people.”

The People

Jon Eric is a banjo player, teacher, and philanthropist. What he does is what he loves, and that is to make people happy.

I asked if he ever gets tired of playing. He quickly responded, “How could I get tired of playing?

“I play to reach the spirits of people. I do have to pay bills to survive, but in the end, things don’t matter. It is the spiritual connection with people that make the difference. If you ask, I will play for you. It’s all about giving back. I will play for you if it will make you smile. Sometimes where words fail, music speaks.”

She’s not your average young adult: Work, volunteer, class and planning on her plate.


By: Nicole Lumbreras

She is a student who is involved with so much more than your average young adult.

Most 20-something females worry about what they will do this weekend, what exams are coming up and just getting through the week.

Not Lexi Schenk. Lexi is an ‘always on the go’ sophomore at the University of Iowa where she worries about; how am I going to get from STAT to work, how long should I run this morning to train for the marathon, and when will I get to talk to Tim next?

She is involved with so much here at the University of Iowa all while she works at Applebee’s, and tries to plan her wedding to the handsome Marine, Tim Gunter.

“Lexi is always gone! She’s either working, at class or at meetings for STAT and homecoming,” said one of her roommates Renea Juska.

Lexi has always enjoyed volunteering in high school, especially in hospitals.

“Now, I am part of the largest student organization on campus: Students Today, Alumni tomorrow (STAT). I am an ambassador in that organization and the committee chair for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” said Lexi. “In addition, this year I am a part of the 2010 Homecoming Executive Council as the Alumni Events Coordinator.”

Making school a career.

On top of all her volunteering, Lexi is a psychology (pre-med) major. She also has a secondary major in Spanish. She is one dedicated girl, and always studying.

“I’ve wanted a career in medicine ever since I can remember. However, the specific focus is subject to change at any time.,” said Lexi. “Psychology is an area of medicine I really enjoy learning about at the moment.”

She wants to be able to help with psychological problems affecting a person’s health including eating disorders and sports related psychological problems. In the end, she can help people while also enjoying what she does: a win, win situation for Lexi.

Lexi isn’t even sure how much free time she gets to herself. She is an early rise so she always has the mornings to herself to run and relax.

“Breakfast is also my favorite meal so I really enjoy my cup of coffee in the morning and just reflecting on what I’m going to do that day before the craziness begins,” said Lexi. “Most nights I either have too many thoughts bouncing around in my head, too much homework, a meeting, or I’m spending time with friends. Nights are productive, but never relaxing for me. I wish I had more that were.”

Lexi will be running in the marathon for Dance Marathon this October 10th. This is her 4th full marathon.

Volunteering most of her time.

Lexi got involved with everything here by simply going to a STAT meeting and was eager to start.

“I went to the general meeting last fall and found out I could apply for an ambassador position. I figured why not? I got the position and ever since it has only continued to open new doors. Once I became an ambassador I became Committee Chair for Make-A-Wish and then a part of the Homecoming Executive Council.”

Joining STAT has been the best decisions Lexi feels she has made since arriving at Iowa (minus saying ‘yes’ when Tim popped the question).

“My fellow STAT Ambassadors and the people on my committee for Make-A-Wish are great to work alongside and excellent friends outside of the organization,” Lexi said. “Many of them are just like me and that makes for a very comfortable environment. It doesn’t feel like work.”

Although Homecoming is a huge event and demands a lot of time and effort and is really stressful, Lexi loves it because she says it feels great to be apart of something bigger (it’s true, she loves it).

“I am a very proactive person and I love challenges,” Lexi said.

Determination is (one of) Lexi’s middle names. When she joined all these programs and received her positions, she decided she was going to make the events better than the years before. And when Lexi says that, she means it.

“I admire her work ethic. She is always determined to finish what she starts and she gets it all done in a reasonable amount of time. She knows how to juggle all of her activities and I have no idea how she does it… I would go insane,” Renea said.
But Lexi, somehow, manages to juggle it all.

“Honestly, it not only makes me feel good about what I’m doing for other people, obviously that’s a big part, but it keeps me busy and motivated,” Lexi said.

Here comes the bride.

Lexi Schenk met Tim Gunter when she was junior in high school. He had just moved to Chicago from Boston and was being recruited into the Marines after his move: he was 19 and she was 17.

From there it is your classic, heart-warming story: Tim and Lexi “clicked from the first day,” and what started out as just a friendship slowly turned into something more over a long period of time…it only took them two and a half years before they figured out that the rest of their lives were to be spent together.

“We are getting married in less than 4 months and the time is absolutely flying Which thank goodness, because so is his deployment,” Lexi said. “January 2, 2011 is the date. I don’t think either of us could be more excited, but yes even in all the excitement, there is quite a bit of stress. Lucky for him, because of his deployment, Tim gets to miss all of the Bridezilla moments.”

Like most young people in love, Lexi’s face lights up when she talks about Tim with a huge grin on her face. She always gets really excited, like a child on Christmas.

Lexi may claim she has some Bridezilla moments, but the only Lexi we see is giddy-in-love Lexi.

“I already have the dress and the shoes. He’ll be in his marine blues. Flowers: orchids. Colors: gold, black, and red. I always wanted a winter wedding so things worked out nicely,” said Lexi. “Next summer we are planning to have a big reception so all our friends and family can help us to celebrate the marriage. Plus let’s be honest, who really wants to go to the ceremony?”

A little ‘me time’

In the little free time Lexi has, she is running, cooking, reading, and watching movies, shopping and most recently, planning her wedding.

This is Lexi’s last semester here at University of Iowa. Next semester she is moving to California with her soon-to-be-Hubby, where he will be stationed.

“I will definitely miss her cooking and her cleaning! It will definitely be a change for the whole apartment to have a new roommate in here second semester but I’m sure that we will all adjust,” Renea said. “Not to mention I’m jealous she’ll be on the beach when we’re stuck in three feet snow!”

When Lexi was asked what is next on her to-do list she said: “Probably finishing my mastering chemistry homework assignment I was trying to work on before I decided I’d rather answer questions! But really, I can’t wait to say ‘I DO.’ That’s the biggest, most important thing on my do list once Tim finally gets home!”

French Senate Approves Burqa Ban

On Tuesday, the French senate approved a law banning an veils that cover the face. A fine if caught wearing one is 150 euros which is equal to $190 or you could have to take a citizenship course for a punishment. If someone forces another person to wear a burqa, the crime can be punishable by a year in prision. Some clothing that is acceptable would be the hijab which covers the hair and neck but not the face or the chador which covers the body but not the face. Why then was there a law in 2004 in France that banned the wearing or displaying of religious symbols in schools, including headscarves?

One source that I chose to relate to this article would be the Office of Student Life Cultural Resource Centers. The UI Cultural and Resource Centers provide intra- and cross-cultural education, leadership and organizational development opportunities, social justice education and change, a “home away from home” for students, and a safe space for cultural and psychosocial development. It would be a great place to go ask some questions of what makes cultural students feel good about themselves, whether it may be the way they dress or talk. I found this source through the Iowa Memorial Union because there are activities that go on there for it as well and it gives all the information on Student Life here at Iowa.

The second source that  I chose was a professor at the Law school here. I thought maybe I would take a different twist to the story and find out more about laws you can make regarding the way a person dresses because to me, I didn’t think you could do that but I guess there may be different situations for different countries. I know this may not get me anything, but I think it would be worth a shot to try. I could talk to Gail B. Agrawal who is the Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Iowa Law School. I found this source through the College of Law website which gives links to the faculty, programs, ECT.