All you need to know about Utah men’s basketball player Donnie Tillman

Story and photos by SAMIRA IBRAHIM

Donnie Tillman’s successful start in his first four games as a freshman paved the way for him to secure minutes in games during the rest of his collegiate basketball career.

Now a sophomore, Tillman, 19, stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 225 pounds. He has become an immediate impact for the Utah men’s basketball. He averages 20.3 minutes per game and is ranked fifth among his team members. Tillman is an important element for the Pac-12 basketball team.

Even though his sophomore season came to an unpleasant end with the team’s overall record of 17-14 and no ticket punch to the March Madness dance, Tillman has remained grounded and is ready to get to work and prepare for next season.

“I make sure that my focus is directed toward improvement rather than all the backlash and comments about our performance this season,” Tillman said. “It just allows me to focus on becoming better and getting some future wins for our team.”

Tillman was born and raised in Detroit and is the son of Donna and Johnnie Tillman with four other siblings. Out of the four boys, Tillman is the youngest. He often looked up to his oldest brother, Bishop, who played as a Division II point guard for Wayne State University. His brother basically paved the way for Tillman and his love for basketball.

As his mother Donna was a single mother raising her boys, she was also battling illness and would often get sick. There would be instances where her epilepsy got so bad, that she needed to quit her job as poker dealer for MotorCity Casino. But she was fortunate enough that it allowed her to support her son and let him finish high school.

He and his mother received a call about an opportunity to attend and play for Findlay Prep in Las Vegas. This is a nationally-recognized high school basketball program that has produced many NBA draft picks. In less than two weeks they made the decision to drop everything and move 2,000 miles away from home in time for him to enroll in the basketball program.

“Everybody thought I was crazy for leaving everything I had known and grew up with. But I knew that this was fate and written for me and so I just had to take the leap of faith. I was also only 15 years old, so you can only imagine how scared I kinda was,” Tillman said.

He and his mother sold everything in their home and everything they owned, then took a ride and never looked back. It wasn’t necessarily easy making the move, as the road trip included many tears and fond memories that they shared along the drive.

“I was always aware of Findlay Prep but they said there are going to be a lot of differences, but it is going to be the best thing for me,” Tillman said. “It took us four days to get there, I was definitely having second thoughts and didn’t know what I got myself into.”

He played three seasons at Findlay Prep where he averaged 14.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, and shot 65 percent as a senior. Tillman had a few injuries in his first two seasons but still helped his team to a 33-4 overall standing record.

When Tillman decided to sign with the Runnin’ Utes at the end of his senior year in high school, his mother counted more than 20 scholarship offers. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by coming out of high school.

After committing to Utah, Tillman said people expected him to be an even better collegiate player than he was in high school. His mother also was excited about his decision to come to Salt Lake City because it offered a strong emphasis on families.

For his sophomore season at Utah, in a vote of the 12 conference coaches, Tillman was named Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year. 

“He is a great team player on and off the court. Donnie constantly works hard and just wants what’s best for our team. I see him making it to the league for sure,” said teammate Timmy Allen.


It’s On Us and rape culture on college campuses


After eight years of gathering data regarding sexual violence on college campuses, the Obama administration implemented It’s On Us. The organization has now reached nearly 1,000 universities and strives to rectify the country’s rape culture.

When It’s On Us came to the University of Utah, it was run by the student government. In July 2018, Christina Bargelt, 22, became acting president of It’s On Us. “I’m a survivor, and my goal is really just to help fix the things that are fixable,” Bargelt said in a phone interview. “I deserve better and so do other survivors.” Using this objective to fuel her, Bargelt has already made strides to prevent and help victims of sexual violence.

After her third and most brutal assault involving a member of the U’s Greek community, Bargelt said that it was time for her to make a change. An investigation that took longer to occur than she was initially told yielded a heartbreaking result: insufficient evidence. She then pursued a hearing that, yet again, took place almost three months late and had reached the same consensus. Bargelt took every necessary plan of action: she got a rape kit done, hired a lawyer, and had multiple other women testify on her behalf.

Despite her best efforts, Bargelt was defeated by the system. She joined part of the 33 percent of people who become suicidal within a month of their assault, and that feeling heightened when she knew that no legal action could be taken. Bargelt then decided to turn the most traumatic experience of her life into a positive one for others. “It made me lose faith and hope in this institution,” Bargelt said. “I could either wallow in self pity and hate this university, or I could take these things and grow from them so I could improve the lives of other survivors.”

Bargelt has completely transformed It’s On Us at the U. She has worked tirelessly to create relations with university administrators and many resources for victims of sexual violence. She said she forged good relationships with many of the people who helped her aftermath her assault. The Office of Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action, the Women’s Resource Center, and other organizations have since paired up with It’s On Us. The most helpful resources for Bargelt after the assault, Victim/Survivor advocates, are now the organization’s main allies. She said, “I would not be the advocate I am today without them,” because they are an objective source that provides survivors with options. She has helped the OEO create a more transparent system, and personally speaks to roughly five new survivors each week.

Another issue with rape culture on college campuses is the discrepancy between male and female survivors. Men are often taught not to rape, and are rarely informed on resources or steps to take if they themselves are the victim. Bargelt has specifically gone to every sorority and fraternity in the U’s Greek system, and has given the exact same information about It’s On Us and rape recovery regardless of her audience’s genders. She said one of her goals as president is to destigmatize the notions surrounding male survivors.

In her mission to keep everyone, especially those involved in Greek life, informed, Bargelt gave presentations at each fraternity’s house. Ty Monroe, 19, was an avid listener when she visited his fraternity. Monroe left the Phi Delta Theta house that night with a whole new perspective. He said, “She really touched base on the fact that assaults are not specific to either males or females, it happens to both.” For some men, Bargelt’s presentations encouraged survivors to come forward. For many others, such as Monroe, the presentations offered a new viewpoint and increased acceptance for male survivors.

It is true that not as many men have experienced sexual violence as women, but that does not mean men are any less deserving of advocates. Many men are not believed or recognized once they come forward after an assault on them, and our country’s rape culture often perpetuates these notions and ostracizes male survivors.

Paul Eicker, 20, is a sophomore at the U who was raped by a girl during the fall of 2018. He said he did not press charges or seek investigation into his perpetrator because he immediately thought he would be looked down upon, called a liar, and lose support of friends and family. The fear of coming forward after an act of sexual violence is present in many survivors, but more so in men. “It took me about a month before I told anyone,” Eicker said. “People told me that I was making a big deal about nothing, and that men can’t be raped.” The reactions he got solidified his initial decision to take no further actions.

As the president of It’s On Us, Bargelt is adamant about being completely transparent in telling her story. Sexual assaults and rapes happen often on college campuses, and many people don’t know how big of a problem it is because it is rarely talked about. Bargelt is very open about her personal experience because hearing a story from another survivor frequently inspires others to come forward. Bargelt said that “part of the empowering part of being a survivor is now you have the agency to do something about it. You have the chance to give power back to yourself and you get to decide what your healing journey will be.”

In less than a year, Bargelt transformed the U into the nation’s most successful It’s On Us organization. She has laid out a 10-year plan, so even after she graduates from the U this May her legacy will live on. “I am very aggressive and do not give up on people or projects that I believe in,” she said, and she has confidence that whoever takes her place in July will maintain the positive trajectory of It’s On Us.

Traumatizing aftermath of active school shooter drills

Story and gallery by EMMA WILLIAMS

The number of school shootings broke records in 2018. Today’s youth are growing up engulfed in an epidemic of violence. According to The Washington Post, more than 187,000 students have been exposed to gun violence in school since the Columbine shooting in 1999.

Earthquake and fire drills have always been viewed by education boards as a precautionary step. Now lockdown or school shooters drills are being given the same priority.

Active shooter preparation can be extremely traumatizing for all students, especially those in younger elementary grades. School protocol and drills are leaving young students between the ages of 5 and 10 upset, ill-informed and scared to return to school.

For children in younger level schooling people carrying guns are simply “bag guys.” They don’t understand the importance of staying safe because their young minds can’t grasp the sincerity of the killer’s harm.

Madyson Skelton, second-grade teacher at Diamond Ridge Elementary School in West Valley City, says her school practices two drills each year, both “a hard and soft lockdown.” Soft lockdowns are for when there is harm in the neighborhood surrounding the school. Each classroom turns off the lights and continues teaching to keep the children calm, Skelton explains.

A hard lockdown is for when the shooter is inside the school. Skelton was taught through district training to have her students stay away from doors and windows and be quiet. Skelton is in a classroom with 28 7- to 8-year-olds.

“After the drills I can always tell what students feel anxiety,” Skelton says. The students are young and confused by the drills. They are cramped up against a wall and told to be quiet. “After the lockdown drill we talk about it with the students to let them know it was just in case of an emergency.”

Skelton says there aren’t any notes sent home to parents warning them of the day and time of the drills. “It’s always the girls who say it’s scary.” Skelton says there is always a lot of giggling and squirming during the drills.

In a hard lockdown practice drill in February, Skelton says she heard one of her students ask another student why they had to do these drills. The student answered, “This is if someone is going to shoot up the school.”

She says she hushed the student and told them the drill was to keep them and their classmates safe if someone were to come into the school. Skelton explains the concern of wondering if the children had discussed with their parents what was happening in schools all around the country or, if the chatter was a result of something they had heard from another or older student.

Barrett Brinkerhoff, a 5-year-old kindergartener at Eastwood Elementary School in Salt Lake City, says he has had two drills in his classroom this year. “We go somewhere to hide so we don’t get killed or something,” he says.

Barrett says his teachers tell the students what is happening and why it is so important to be still and quiet during the drills. Barrett says the kids in his class don’t take it seriously and tease one another during the drills. He says the teachers hush them “to keep them safe so they don’t get fired.”

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network , the best way to get prepared is to run successful drills. It describes using age-specific language, to send handouts home with students and reassure all student concerns. Determining who will need additional mental or physical support will help successfully execute these drills and minimize student and parent upset.

Barrett’s mother, Jessica Brinkerhoff, feels her child’s school could be making a better effort at informing parents who can prep their children. “Nothing was sent home or posted online — and I wish there would have been.”

Brinkerhoff says she doesn’t know what her school is advising students to do to stay safe during drills. After both drills Barret has come home anxious and curious. “I just tell him there is only so much we can control and that we have done all we can to keep you safe,” Brinkerhoff says.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network advises informing parents of all specific protocol. Identify all types of drills and what each drill is helping to prevent. Conduct informal meeting so parents can ask questions to better inform their child and ease stress.

The FBI National Webpage reports 30 total active shooter incidents in 2017 across the United States, 11 being at schools. And 250 total shooter incidents from 2000 to 2017.

The solution to solving gun violence and improving mental health isn’t as simple as performing an in-school drill. Giving students of all ages the resources, regulations and information to help prevent a possible fatality is worth all the time and effort.

Remembering delicate young minds are at stake when participating in drills will help eliminate child and parent upset. Active shooter or invader drills are terrifying to people of all ages.

Photos curtsey of Madyson Skelton and Jessica Brinkerhoff

Intermountain Healthcare announces groundbreaking policy that removes pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from Utah practices and hospitals

Story and photos by BERKLEE HAMMOND

Effective May 1, 2019, Intermountain Healthcare has prohibited industry-based pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from entering practices and hospitals throughout Utah. 

Intermountain believes this new change will increase patient safety, refine adherence to clinical guidelines, improve prescription patterns, decrease cost of medicines and eliminate operational complexity and burden.

According to a statement by Dr. Mark Briesacher, senior vice president of Intermountain Medical Group and Medical Staff, this change has been made to fulfill Intermountain Healthcare’s vision of being “a model health system by providing extraordinary care and superior service at an affordable cost.” 

Pharmaceutical representatives received a document titled “Removal of Pharmaceutical Representatives and Medication Samples from Intermountain Clinics” issued by Intermountain Healthcare. The document explains why samples and pharmaceutical reps are no longer permitted. It also states that patients are commonly given verbal instructions about appropriate use of medication samples and side effects.

This can lead to product labeling and written patient instructions that are often inadequate. These new regulations will decrease the chance for medication errors and improve patient safety.

Intermountain plans to improve adherence to clinical guidelines by removing pharmaceutical representative visits, samples, and marketing. According to a statement released to pharmaceutical companies, Intermountain would do away with professional and social pressures and would allow physicians to make unbiased decisions on behalf of their patients. 

This document explains how these steps will improve prescription patterns for patient care. Eighty-three percent of prescription promotion is done by physicians who have been educated on drugs from pharmaceutical representative visits. 

According to a 2014 study of 150,000 physicians over a 24-month period showed the detailing impacts selective, brand-specific demand and influenced prescribers. 

Intermountain Healthcare cited numerous studies that have shown physicians were three times more likely to prescribe a generic product when samples were removed from clinics.

The Medical Group Service Line’s statement indicates the changes at Intermountain will eliminate operational complexity and burden. Storage, distribution and security of medications is challenging to manage and increases the expense on care teams.


The reason behind this decision came after leading healthcare organizations like the National Institutes of Healthand the Institute for Safe Medication Practicesrecommended against utilizing pharmaceutical representatives and samples because this has a negative impact on patient safety, care quality, and costs. 

Crystal Goodrich, a local district manager of a pharmaceutical company, explained the small steps that eventually led to the new regulations.

First, she said the changes started when Big Pharma companies agreed to discontinue distributing any type of promotional materials such as sticky notes and pens to any healthcare entity. Goodrich said, “Some rules made sense.” 

Intermountain was among the other healthcare agencies that did not want their physicians being influenced by promotional materials. 

The Big Pharma agreement, including Intermountain, later prohibited physicians from going out to dinner or to special events with representatives. Goodrich remembers, “This was when the pushback from physicians started across the industry.”

According to Goodrich, Intermountain then took restrictions to another level.  Intermountain only allowed one appointed representative from each of the pharmaceutical companies statewide to have access to any and all of Intermountain’s approximately 5,000 physicians. 

Rebecca Nixon was assigned to Intermountain Healthcare exclusively as a representative 10 years ago. Nixon only visits Intermountain’s practices and clinics.

Nixon explained the adjustment from visiting clinics from all Utah healthcare entities to going exclusively to Intermountain. She shared frustration in the lack of competition in Utah with Intermountain and lack of authority from Intermountain Healthcare physicians. 

Nixon said, “The doctors are employed by Intermountain Healthcare, they are not in charge or able to make these decisions themselves.”

She said these new policies from Intermountain Healthcare will affect her job tremendously. She is now going to be reassigned to another position due to the regulations set by Intermountain Healthcare.

As of May 1, 2019, there is a new level of restriction. If a representative enters a clinic, Intermountain Healthcare urges physicians and administrative staff to not accept any medication samples, coupons, literature, vouchers or other forms of drug marketing.

Both Nixon and Goodrich stated that physicians at Intermountain Healthcare have pushed back with these new regulations. Due to the pushback, Intermountain Healthcare has now made an exception to lifesaving medications like inhalers, blood thinners and several other medications from drug representatives.  

Intermountain Healthcare physicians will now get their education from pharmacists instead of trained pharmaceutical representatives. “This certainly concerns us,” Goodrich said. Pharmacies make more revenue from generic brands than name brands. This raises concern for patient care.

“A big concern is knowing physicians at Intermountain valued our knowledge and they can’t get it anymore,” Goodrich said. Pharmaceutical representatives spend weeks, months and years becoming trained on the medication they represent. They get trained through in-person trainings, online training and continual training by district and regional representatives that monitor the accuracy of the information distributed.

This training will now be the responsibility of each physician. They will need to take the time to educate themselves on hundreds, even thousands, of medications to provide accurate and informed education to each patient. 

According to Intermountain Healthcare’s website, this not-for-profit system has more than 5,000 physicians who are affiliated with Intermountain, including about 1,400 employed physicians in the Intermountain Medical Group who provide care to patients at more than 185 clinics and offices as well as 23 hospitals.

Better safe than sorry: What to know before setting out

Story and photos by CAROLINE J. PASTORIUS

Avoiding avalanches is much easier than trying to survive one.

Outside of Denver, CO
Feb. 24, 2019

Many climbers, skiers, snowmobilers and outdoor enthusiasts are not aware of the proper precautions for avalanche and snow safety. The dangers of this type of recreation require more preparation and knowledge than you may think.

It’s not as simple as reading a pamphlet or set of instructions to prepare you to take on the outdoors, it’s about knowing what you are headed into and being fully prepared for and aware of the risks that come with venturing into nature.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

Mark Staples, director of the Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center, labels himself as an extremely experienced outdoor enthusiast and emphasizes, “There is no way to assure safety once you’re out in the wilderness. But there are ways to go about it safely, and that’s the best you can do,” Staples says in a phone interview.

Park City, UT (backcountry) | March 3, 2019

The elementary rule comes first and foremost when preparing to take on this type of terrain; do not travel alone. “Always make sure you have the proper education and tools before going into the backcountry, and make sure your partner does as well,” says Jordan Hicks from REI Cooperative. Hicks also added a helpful tip. “Make sure you have a set plan before you head out and tell somebody that plan in case you’re late coming home so they can notify authorities.”

Hicks also says to be aware of your surroundings. The cause of 90 percent of avalanches that harm a victim or members of the victim’s group is caused by their own missteps. Any foreign activity caused in a natural environment that adds weight that wasn’t there before can easily trigger downfall. A helpful way to foresee the conditions on the mountain before enduring it is to check daily aspects like the weather forecast and condition of the mountain on the day of your travel, both of which are easily accessible online. He says some red flags include unsteady snow, heavy snowfall or rain, posted warning signs, wind loading, and persistent weak layers. Avoiding avalanches altogether is much easier than trying to survive one, so take the precautions seriously.

Snacks. Water. Fuel. You can never be too prepared. Josh Alexander from Utah Ski and Golf recommends that you should “bring two times more than you expect to consume on your trip.”

Alexander also shared a story about his personal experience of being buried in an avalanche and what he learned from it. “Luckily, I was well prepared for any possible situation. I went out with a buddy of mine in the backcountry of Canada a few years back, somewhere we have never been before.” In retrospect, this was a red flag. You should never travel on unfamiliar territory when visiting it for the very first time. Alexander recommends scoping out uncharted terrain a day before riding it. Also, he mentions researching the area online to check previous travelers’ comments.

The avalanche that affected him was caused by a collision he had with a snowboarder, which produced a rush of snow and carried him about 100 yards. Being unable to breathe for that time, he saw his life flash before him.

Park City, UT |March 10, 2019

After coming to a halt, Alexander realized his friend was nowhere in sight. In fact, nothing was. It was all white. “I was completely lost, and all of my calls for help got absorbed in the snow I was buried in. I knew I had to find help but I also didn’t want to use too much oxygen, since I wasn’t sure how long I would be stuck there for.” He settled his pulse and remembered focus on what he learned to do when caught in this sort of situation.

He took a deep breath and started “swimming” against gravity to get closer to the surface of the snow pile in attempt to get any sort of signal for his avalanche beacon (a small radio that transmits a lost or dangered travelers’ location to rescue crews). He soon started transmitting his device, which was caught by his partner on the receiving end. Finally, he was located, rescued, and lives to tell the story. If the pair was not prepared for the worst-case scenario and did not hold the necessary tools, Alexander had a slim chance of survival.

There is only a 30 percent chance of escaping when buried by an avalanche. Take the lessons taught and learned in this article next time you think about getting involved in avalanche-prone territory. Always remember that you are in control of your own safety in uncharted territory.

Salt Lake City’s juicing scene is on the rise

Story and gallery by LAUREN HINKLEY

Nutritious eateries and shops seem to be on every corner in Salt Lake City, an indication that the community is becoming more health-conscious by the minute.

One of the most powerful trends of this healthy-dining movement is cold-pressed juice bars.

This form of juicing involves a hydraulic press that extracts juices from fruits and vegetables. Consumers often choose these products based on their desired mental or physical health benefits. These benefits can be determined by the ingredients included in each individual batch.

In Salt Lake City, juiceries including Vive Juicery, Just Organic Juice, and Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe are among some of the companies that are leading Utah toward better health with their nutrient-dense cold-pressed beverages.

Upon entering Vive Juicery, located at 1597 S. 1100 East, customers are greeted and welcomed into a cozy, chic atmosphere. With couch seating, ambient music, and a fun and friendly counter staff, this store is an inviting space for anyone and everyone looking to explore and be educated on the health benefits of cold-pressed juice. This is the exact vibe Brittany Shimmin, founder and CEO, had in mind when she created Vive Juicery in 2013.

“We’ve really tailored the experience to be inclusive of everyone,” Shimmin says.

Shimmin appreciates the wide variety of clientele she sees engaging with and supporting Vive’s brand and product. Even those who are just entering the world of nutrition and healthy living can find Vive to be the perfect place to start.

Sitting conveniently between two major college campuses of Salt Lake City, the juicery has become a hot spot for students of The University of Utah and Westminster College.

Many students are now turning to cold-pressed juices during the stresses of midterms and finals week. “Hearing what drinking juice has done for them opposed to a Red Bull has been really cool,” says Shimmin, reflecting on this new trend.

At the forefront of the local juice scene, Vive contributes even more to the community than just its state-of-the-art products. By sourcing its produce from local farms and gardens whenever possible, Vive is making a positive impact on the economy and sustainability of Utah.

Shimmin and the Vive team are passionate about forming relationships with the farmers who grow their ingredients. “When you can talk to the person that grew your food, you in turn will end up appreciating it more,” she says.

Just a few blocks away at 2030 S. 900 East sits another local juice bar, Just Organic Juice, the creation of cancer survivor, Lisa Graham.

When Graham was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, she opted out of chemotherapy and turned to nutrition to help nurture her back to health. After implementing juice into her diet, she recalls immediately seeing the benefits. She has been cancer free ever since.

Graham stated that the impacts cold-pressed juice had on her own health inspired her to start Just Organic Juice where she could show the rest of the community just how beneficial juicing can be.

“We see a lot of customers with cancer and other diseases,” Graham says. She also mentions that she has noticed a growing awareness in the importance of nutrition across the medical field.

Graham says she believes this new importance doctors are placing on nutrition has contributed to the growing popularity in her business. “More doctors are advising patients to change their diets,” she says.

With juiceries popping up all across Salt Lake City, Just Organic Juice continues to stand out from the rest by serving products that contain only 100 percent organic ingredients.

The most popular juice on the menu at Just Organic Juice is the “Giving Green.” “I could go on and on,” Graham admits as she raves about the product’s health benefits. “You couldn’t even eat that many vitamins and nutrients in a day.”

Another up-and-coming juice spot is Seasons Juice Bar. Seasons is located in Midvale at 7630 Union Park Ave. and is proudly owned and run by juice enthusiast Bobby Movarid.

When Movarid moved from Santa Monica, California, to Salt Lake City, he was driven to show Utah what cutting-edge high-quality health food and beverage really is.

Movarid says he saw what was missing around town and knew he would be the one to introduce truly good cold-pressed juices and acai to the community. That’s when he started Seasons Juice Bar and Cafe.

Movarid has used his entrepreneurial mind to curate a delicious and nutritious menu of cold-pressed juices. He says he is eager to encourage new customers to sample them.

The “Black Lemonade” remains one of the most popular juices at Seasons. This pitch-black beverage is a little intimidating at first glance but has a pleasant flavor of lemon and agave. The key ingredient is activated charcoal, a detoxifying ingredient, which is explained in the company’s juice guides and pamphlets.

Movarid has put care and attention into every aspect of the Seasons experience, from the biodegradable utensils to the complimentary water. “Our water is alkalized and purified using reverse osmosis,” he explains.

Seasons in the product of Movarid’s extensive hard work. “You gotta hustle!” he exclaims.

While the juicing scene is already flourishing, there’s no doubt it’s still growing every day. Brittany Shimmin, Lisa Graham, and Bobby Movarid are among some of the pioneers of a movement toward a healthier Utah. Through their craft, they are inspiring the community of Salt Lake City to prioritize wellness, one juice at a time.

Saige Hawkins


Millennials are complaining about low pay but favor perks over high compensation


After I read the syllabus for this news writing class, I was super intimidated. I had never written in a news format before, and the task of pitching, writing, and publishing a story of my own seemed very daunting. I attended Park City High School where the only format you are permitted to use throughout those four years is strictly MLA for all of your assignments. Learning AP style with all the abbreviations, dashes, and short sentences was all new to me and was definitely a challenge

When I began to think of ideas for my story I was right in the middle of my internship with Backcountry, which also happened to be my first time in a human resources role. I was loving it and immersed myself in all things HR. As someone who’s about to enter the adult world and get a 9-to-5 compensation, perks and benefits packages are fresh in my mind and my peers’. It only made sense to take my professional day-to-day and merge it with the perspective of an emerging young professional.

Finding sources for this was relatively easy since I was reporting directly to the manager of perks and benefits for Backcountry at my internship. This did end up making things more intimidating because I had to ask my boss in a formal interview how she felt about compensating for lower pay with flashy perks and how that was affecting my generation. She was very cool about it and it ended up being my best interview for this project.

Overall, this project has really helped me grow as a professional hoping to enter this sometimes complicated field known as human resources, and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned from it to my own life as my job search begins. Incorporating multiple perspectives into one article is no easy task and I have a lot of respect for those who make it look easy every single day on the job.


Saige Hawkins is a senior at the University of Utah studying communication. She will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Summer 2019. She hopes to begin a career in human resources preferably with an entertainment or hospitality company.

Saige was a participant in the Disney College Program for the Spring advantage 2018 term (January-August) as a cashier for the busiest and most profitable restaurant at the Disneyland Resort. Once she graduates she plans to return to California as an HR professional for The Walt Disney Company.

Millennials are complaining about low pay but favor perks over high compensation

Story and gallery by SAIGE HAWKINS

The cost of living continues to rise and millennials are continuing to struggle to afford it. A common gripe for the cause of this is that they are not being paid appropriately. But is that really at the root of the cause? Experts in their field have noted that in order to keep up with hiring demand, flashy perks and events have become a necessity in order to maintain top talent millennials at a company.

“Most of the people we hire for our corporate office are under 40 and are more initially attracted to little perks that make their day-to-day in the office more tolerable, rather than their income.” says Erika Park, the manager of perks and benefits for Backcountry, an online outdoor retail company based out of Park City, Utah.

This is a position human resources professionals have heard more than once, and yet 18-35-year-olds are often complaining about their compensation. The most repeated comment left in Backcountry’s exit interviews was that departing employees weren’t paid enough. It is also the most common reason employees not at the corporate level were leaving Backcountry. One comment stated, “The free food and fun events are nice, but at the end of the day my paycheck didn’t reflect the work I’d put in.”

This isn’t a problem unique to Backcountry, as the cast member culture at Disneyland reflects the same thing. In Spring and Summer 2018 multiple demonstrations were held across the street from the world-famous theme park by cast members demanding a higher wage. These protests led to union representatives getting involved and beginning negotiations with the company’s leadership team for a higher hourly pay rate.

Tessa Zalfen, a Disneyland cast member for over a year, said, “No we don’t get paid that much. Most of it has to do with how many hours we get scheduled since it’s based on seniority but I don’t work here for the money. We get discounts, free admission, guest passes, and honestly I just love it here so much I don’t really mind it.” This exemplifies what the millennial generation is demonstrating, a willingness to work more for less if they’re doing something they enjoy even if it’s just the company and their values.

The next generation is displaying a sense of importance for similar values over higher pay. They are happy to be working for a company they admire so the other things don’t matter as much. This values-based employment added with the perks catered to them creates an excellent combination for compensation. If the employees already pay business to a company and will continue to do so, discounting those experiences for them allows them to feel compensated, spend more at the company, and in turn create a win-win scenario.

Corporate perks aren’t just something important to the employee life cycle. They also help draw applicants in and sell them on one job over another. “We’re very fortunate here because we offer so much in regards to activities, discounts, and the great events Erika plans. It makes my job easier because the sales pitch is already laid out for me most times,” said Donna Barker, the senior corporate recruiter for Backcountry.

Even though most of the companies that are able to offer this don’t pay as much as smaller companies, they still combine these perks with name recognition on a resume to make their company desired. “It is definitely a bigger draw for younger people just starting their careers to be somewhere recognizable,” said Park, Backcountry’s manager for perks and benefits.

Park added, “They’re more likely to take something now with less pay that will catapult them to their next opportunity than something that pays well and won’t guarantee advancement later on.”

This sentiment is echoed through Zalfen, the Disneyland cast member, who said, “I plan to stay here awhile because I want to work my way up one day and work for ABC. It’s easier to do that if I’m already here.” A foot in the door method definitely seems to be a direction the millennial generation is being steered into. Zalfen added, “From what I’ve been told, it looks better on a resume to have growth and different positions at one place than to have experience without growth at several different places.”

Corporate perks and growth potential have quickly grown to be one of the biggest factors when looking for a job in today’s market and companies don’t have a reason to change. Why spend more to pay someone for a job when they’re willing to work for less as long as you put a sparkly bow on it? Barker, the senior recruiter, added, “We might not pay as much as smaller warehouses but we don’t need to because people want to work for us before they even hear how much it pays. We attract a very niche crowd and they’ll stay if we help maintain their lifestyle, even if it isn’t through a pay check.”

Tayler Lacey talks new EP and journey to being a musician

Story and gallery by JENNA S. O’DELL

Tayler Lacey performed at The Underground at 833 Main St. in Salt Lake City on a cold March night. It is an industrial-looking building down a narrow alley. The door is marked only by band stickers. Inside, the walls are plastered with stickers and graffiti. There are small rooms that line a long dark hallway that can can be rented out to bands for practicing and performances.

It was $5 to get in this atypical venue. The room is lit with fluorescent bulbs. You can hear the sounds of musicians practicing in other rooms and the performance was unplugged.

Tayler Lacey, 22, is a Utah native who currently resides in South Jordan. At 13 he started guitar lessons. Lacey plays several instruments and admits his selection of genre influenced his choice in the ones he wanted to play.

He describes his genre as folk but credits many artists including Jack Johnson for influencing his love for acoustic music. Shakey Graves inspired him to be a “one-man band.” He enjoys the simplicity and storytelling of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and said “lyrically, Paul Simon is a genius.” 

Lacey describes writing a song as a mindset, not a mood. “I have to be by myself because it’s hard to get other people on the same wavelength.” 

Performing is Lacey’s favorite part about being a musician. His hope is to make an impact on those he’s performing for, and that they can connect with his music. With all the live performing he does, the performance anxiety he initially felt transitioned to anticipation and excitement.

“I would tell my younger self to not get discouraged and to stop comparing yourself to others,” he said. “Do it because you love it not because you want to get famous.”

During his March performance, there was a lot of interaction with the crowd which consisted of friends and local music enthusiasts. One admitted this was her first time going to the Underground and jokingly said, “I’m going to get murdered going to this place.” Lacey’s set consisted of some songs from his previous albums and from his new EP. His song “Ghosts” was a crowd favorite, everyone was singing along.

He said that this EP is different than everything else that he has out. “I think it was a very transitional time in my life. I started doing solo music again after breaking up with my guitar player. I was also moving from place to place and going through transition in relationships. I chose the name “Street Corners” because of the love of busking and hearing street performers play but also because through every change I feel Salt Lake is my home and the street corners never change.”

Tayler Lacey’s new EP “Street Corners” is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Bandcamp. If you would like to see Lacey perform, he will be touring the Pacific Northwest Summer 2019.

Utahns finding success for personal brands and business is largely thanks to their social media presence

Story and gallery by ISABELLE CURRAN

Utah and social media. How are these two big entities related?

For the past four years, social media has become less of a memory sharing platform, and more of a business. Almost anywhere you look, there are people trying to make a brand off of themselves or otherwise enhance their growing businesses.

This phenomenon is especially apparent in Utah. Many Utahns have strong social media followings in the hundreds of thousands.

While social media might be newer and has helped more people gain success and more exposure, many top social media people in Utah started with their own blogs. Themes of such profiles and blogs range from health and wellness to fashion, art, and lifestyle.

Social media platforms are the new hub of bloggers, specifically Instagram. Instagram first came on the market in October 2010, its original purpose being a streamlined photo sharing and editing site.

Nowadays, Instagram is a balance of real-life content and advertisements, which has proved to be the secret to success. Mixing the right amount of business and personal attributes bode well with internet communities.  

One San Diego State University student, Karis Bailey, 19, who is very outwardly vocal about the Utah social media scene, says, “Many accounts I follow of Utahns are inspiring and they make me want to go and experience what they are experiencing.”

Bailey has been active on social media, specifically Instagram, for close to seven years. Around two years ago she noticed that some of the people she follows, whom she didn’t know personally, were mostly from Utah.

“These people make their followers feel almost like family members,” Bailey says. “They are all very humble and grounded individuals.”

Bailey explains that she feels as though most of the Utah-based people that she follows create authentic content that engages followers into their lives.

Some of the Instagram accounts she shared are Cara Loren (@caraloren), The Bucket List Family (@thebucketlistfamily), and The Devines (@haileydevine, @bradleydevine, @somewheredevine).

For businesses, is it wise to utilize Instagram? Even newer than the concept of social media personalities is that of making your social media profile into a business. Now, posting and reviewing products on a profile can turn a profit.

The balance of original and personal content with ads and promotions is a tricky one.

“It is all right when they genuinely like the product they are advertising but I think there is a limit to what and how much you advertise something,” Bailey says. “Pushing things on to followers is unethical but I see nothing wrong with suggesting.”

Social media in Utah serves as a large community for people to connect and share ideas with each other. A popular social media Utahn who can attest to this is Renata Stone.

Although she is a newer Utah resident, her Instagram and company success is constantly influenced and inspired by her surroundings. With over 21,000 followers, her Instagram (@renatastone) is the connection between her business, her personal images, and her followers.

After Stone and her husband bought a house together, she started making macramé pieces to decorate their house.

To transform her creative hobby into a business, Stone utilizes her website and Instagram to share her inspiration, existing creations, and allow for commission requests.

In an email interview, Stone says, “Being authentic and real is the only thing that matters.”

Providing an accurate visual representation of one’s life is an essential way to gain favor with followers and promoting loyalty.

Stone says she does not consider herself a typical Utah social media personality, but recognizes that her Instagram very much follows a theme, something very common in not only successful Instagram pages in general, but Utahn Instagram pages especially.

“I think my Instagram account is as much about me as a human (or at least what I choose to expose to the outside world) as it is about my work. I think as an artist the personal and professional go hand-in-hand —it’s almost like you are your brand,” Stone writes.

Social media platforms are not only central to personal profiles but also to enhance businesses, as Stone noted. Normal Ice Cream is a food truck that is standing its ground among retail storefronts at Trolley Square, using Instagram to do so.

The Normal Ice Cream website and Instagram profile ( give a comprehensive overview of the products as well as the story behind it all.

Owner Alexa Norlin, who has been a pastry chef for eight years, decided the ice cream business was more her speed after working in popular Salt Lake restaurants such as The Rose Establishment, Current Fish & Oyster, Fresco Italian Cafe, Cafe Trio Downtown, Cafe Trio Cottonwood, and Faustina and Niche.

She opened the Normal Ice Cream truck and became operational in June 2017. Later the truck took up residence in Trolley Square starting in January 2018 and has been there ever since.  

Norlin praises Instagram saying, “I truly think that I would be out of business without Instagram.”

The Normal Ice Cream truck is an example of good social media marketing. The Normal team utilizes its profile to promote the business by posting photos of products, updating hours, sharing, and serving as a place to allow customers to connect with the business.

Norlin says that, “Instagram has allowed a really natural way to engage with customers on a seemingly one-to-one basis.”

She has noticed the social media Utah phenomenon, but her social media involvement is mostly consumed by being a business profile only, not a personal journal. Still, Norlin credits her business’ success largely thanks to a clear and consistent social media presence.

Utah will continue to be the house a substantial amount of popular social media figures. For those who have a business and those who wish to share their lives online, Instagram seems to be the desired platform.

Looking into the future, there is no limit to how influential social media platforms can be to people’s personal brands and the business they create.

Students turn to piracy in face of high textbook prices

Story and photo gallery by NIC NIELSEN

Downloading files illegally is nothing new. In fact, college students have been using the internet to pirate music and films for years. While this trend has been prevalent in entertainment media, it has now moved on to academics.

College students are now turning to the internet to find their textbooks. But rather than purchasing or renting from companies such as Amazon, some are opting to download complete PDFs of their required texts. With a quick Google search of the title or ISBN, students are able to download some textbooks at the risk of legal penalties in order to save hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

For University of Utah freshman Olivia Gonzales, 19, this is a popular way for her friends to save money. The chemistry major said she hasn’t participated in the trend herself, but she doesn’t blame others for wanting to save money with the prices being so high, and some professors are sympathizing as well. 

“I’m too scared of getting in legal trouble to try it, but most people I know have done this because, like, they just can’t afford really expensive textbooks on top of the ridiculous school fees,” Gonzales said. “Even my professor once sent us a link at the beginning of the semester to a PDF of the book for our class. The entire textbook.”

While students may consider receiving bootleg copies of the required texts either a miracle or unethical, U senior Kelsey Rathke, 26, has experienced something more common.

“I have had multiple classes where a teacher has a PDF chapter or two from a textbook,” Rathke, a communication major, said. “I really like those classes because, in general, they use more than one textbook, so there is variety throughout the semester, and I don’t have to pay the price for it.”

According to Policy 7-013 of the U’s research policies, copyrighted materials can only be shared to students if it constitutes a fair use, is only accessible by students enrolled in the course during that semester, and has a security measure in place to access it such as a password protection.

While some may argue students simply just don’t ever want to pay money, the cause of this trend may be a result of skyrocketing textbook prices.

In January 2018, CBS News reported that the average cost of textbooks has risen four times faster than the rate of inflation in the last decade and 65 percent of students were choosing to not purchase required texts at some point in college due to lack of affordability.

According to the National Association of College Stores, the average price of a new textbook rose from $58 to $90, an increase of over 50 percent, between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 school years. Many students have expressed that this rise in price is unjustified.

“I think they are outrageous,” Rathke said of textbook prices. “I understand that they take a lot of effort and time to build, but the newest versions of textbooks are unbelievable, and for most of them the changes are minor enough that it feels like robbery.”

Students have not been the only victims of rising prices, however. According to Shane Girton, 48, associate director of the of U’s campus store, it has been selling fewer printed books because of prices set by publishers.

“Traditional print textbook sales have declined overall due to the increase in price set by the publishers, which has forced cost-conscious students to make the choice of shopping online to find the best possible deal, utilizing e-books when possible, as they are normally up to 60 percent cheaper than print textbooks, utilizing the Campus Store rental program for their textbooks, which can save them up to 50 percent, or forgoing using a textbook at all,” Girton said in an email interview.

Girton also stated that the campus store searches for “a variety of options in providing textbook content to students so that the price can be reduced where possible.” Girton said he is aware of the textbook pirating trend, but not to what extent.

“There is a risk involved in using pirated material that the student has to accept,” Girton said.

Although more expensive, some students such as freshman Thomas Young, 18, still prefer physical textbooks and purchasing from the university bookstore. 

“I prefer a hard copy of my textbooks if I can so I can write in the book because that’s how I learn best,” the U kinesiology major said. “The campus store might be expensive, but it is still the best option to get books because most of the time they have any book that your class will need right there and you don’t have to wait to have it shipped like you would for Amazon.”

Regardless of preference, Girton recommended students contact their professors after registering to see if the textbook will actually be used for the course. While it is the easier and more affordable option, textbook piracy, as with music and film piracy, can result in academic punishment or expulsion, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and possible jail time.

The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet

Story and photo gallery by CAMILLE AGLAURE

With so much talk concerning diet in the media, many people find it difficult to know what to eat. What foods are ethically sourced and grown? What foods truly promote human health? What foods support the health of the planet? These are all questions that are fogging up the minds of so many people.  

One thing that Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and a professor of nutrition and integrative physiology, and Anne Pesek Taylor, registered dietitian, at the University of Utah can both agree on is that, generally speaking, a healthier plate is one with more plants and less overly processed foods and added sugar. 

Pesek Taylor said in an email interview that balanced nutrition needs to account for individual food preferences, lifestyle factors, and include a variety of food groups so it can be maintained long-term. Pesek Taylor referred to the University of Utah’s Healthy Eating Plate, an adaptation of the government’s MyPlate created in 2011, as a useful guide to good health.

What does this mean for meat and dairy, though?

Studies like the popular health book “The China Study” and documentaries like “What the Health” and “Cowspiracy”detail the harmful effects to humans and the environment that come with the consumption of animal-based foods. Jalili said he believes that the absolute exclusion of animal-based foods is not necessarily vital. However, regarding meat, “a little still means a little,” he said. 

Jalili said the maximum recommended intake of red meat is 100 grams per day while the maximum for processed meat is 50 grams. “Once a day is still a lot,” he said, and as far as human health is concerned, many studies indicate that there is, in fact, a decrease in mortality rate among those who maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet. When considering environmental health, there is slightly more to be taken into account when writing out your grocery list.

As more media attention surrounds the question of climate change versus animal agriculture, many organizations and communities are reevaluating the importance of animal-based foods, particularly meat, in a standard, western diet. 

“Raising cows is an environmental disaster,” Jalili said. With animal agriculture accounting for 91 percent of rainforest deforestation, according to The World Bank, and more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation sector, according to the United Nations, Jalili said he believes that it is time for groups of people, like nutritionists, to not focus on health alone, but the bigger picture. “It’s just responsible,” he said. 

So, is a universal vegan diet the solution?

In the opinion of Christy Clay, Ph.D., an associate professor at Westminster College who teaches courses on subjects including biology, ecology, and environmental studies, “a homogenous, universal diet is exactly what has caused so many problems in our current food system.”

Clay said she believes that the current food system has created a monster of unequal distribution of foods, the elimination of native crops and variation, and potentially the loss of culture and professions. 

“We’re not understanding the limitations and values of local resources,” Clay said, as she explained the harms in seeking mainstream foods that do not naturally occur locally. Clay used the example of quinoa, a grain that grows in the Andes that is now exported to Western countries more than it is provided for locals who have depended on the grain in their diets for centuries. To be truly sustainable and ethical, Clay maintained that “diets should be bio-regional.”

For Clay, the ethical question of which foods to eat is not as simple as drastically lowering our consumption of meat. Rather, “there’s a whole dismantling of a current food system that needs to happen,” Clay said as she painted a picture of just how disrupted our way of eating has become. 

So, where do we begin?

Clay suggested that the first action to take is having the conversation about “how broken our food system is.” This consists of poor income for those in the agriculture industry, the cost and precarious nature of leasing land to farmers, a decline in community gardens, and loss of interest in crops that have fallen out of the mainstream.

“What does it look like to say we actually value this profession?” wondered Clay as she additionally suggested encouraging communities to be a space for local gardening. Already, there are a number of organizations working to do just that, including Green Urban Lunch Box, which goes from school to school, educating children on the value of local gardening while furthermore educating local farmers. 

Making a difference in your community requires collective action to encourage local agriculture and farming. Clay suggested gardening out of your own backyard. If you live in an apartment complex, ask your landlord or property owner about creating a roof garden. Clay also suggested engaging with other community gardens and protecting land to be used for local farming. Getting back in touch with a farm-to-table way of eating is imperative for a sustainable diet. Rekindling a healthy and community-based relationship with food is the best way for individuals to eat ethically, healthily, and in an environmentally friendly way. 

It’s time to rethink recycling

Story and photo gallery by NATALIE FREEZE

Did you know that the United States is the No. 1 trash-producing country in the world? While the U.S. accounts for only 5 percent of the global population, we are producing 40 percent of the world’s waste. I may not be a math major, but that just does not add up. Garbage is a global issue, and recycling has often been praised as the universal solution, but today we need to rethink how we recycle.

In the 1970s, a new push for green movements through government-backed initiatives raised public awareness and engagement through conservation efforts. In other words, recycling became a household mission. Earth Day was also first recognized on April 22, 1970. When recycling was a new and foreign concept, officials were desperate to get people to change their behavior and get into the habit of recycling. That was almost fifty years ago. Now, in 2019, it’s time to rethink how we recycle and raise the bar.

Since China has raised its recycling standards, we need to raise and match our recycling habits to continue to make a difference. In July 2017, China declared that it no longer wants to be the recipient of other countries garbage. The waste trade boosts economies of poor countries, but as China has grown in population and wealth, they no longer want to be held responsible for garbage duty. The declaration went into effect in January 2018, but before that China had been taking almost half of the United States recyclables.

Since last January, China has stopped accepting dozens of recyclable materials, like plastic and mixed paper, unless they meet strict rules around quality and contamination. Incoming recycling must be clean and perfectly sorted, a standard that is near impossible to meet.

In reaction to these new policies, the University of Utah has had to scale back recycling programs on campus. Joshua James, the waste management and recycling program manager here at the U said, “Now we are stuck at a point where we can only recycle plastics 1 and 2, and on top of that, it needs to be clean.” Many college students don’t understand these changes or what “clean” means, making these requirements extremely difficult to meet.

Recycling is not a lost cause, but we do need to make some essential changes to what we recycle. Aspiration recycling, also known as “wish cycling”, is no longer acceptable. This is when you are not actually sure if your coffee cup or pizza box is recyclable, but you toss it in the blue bin anyways because you care about the planet. James said, “It’s a feel-good thing, but if you put the wrong thing in there it ruins it for everyone.”

Aspirational recycling actually wastes more resources than simply sending it straight to a landfill. The energy consumed taking the trash to a facility, sorting it out as non-recyclable, and then sending it a landfill is wasteful and unnecessary. It can also damage the quality of other recyclable items that it touched, condemning those items to live in a landfill as well. Simply put, when in doubt throw it out.

Quality over quantity is key as recycling is becoming even more relevant for Salt Lake City. Once the Salt Lake Valley Landfill is full, that’s it, so it is increasingly urgent to filter what is necessary to be sent to the landfill. “The majority of our landfill is paper, which ironically is also the most recyclable material,” said Ashlee Yoder, the sustainability manager with Salt Lake County. “Not if, but when this landfill is capped off we will have to start sending our waste to other counties.”

So now what?

Sorting waste into the correct bin, whether it’s compostable, recyclable or just plain trash, is essential to combat excessive waste. But ultimately, it comes down to reducing our consumption. James said, “Stop depending on recycling. Reduce, reuse, recycle is in that order for a reason; recycling is the last resort after you have reduced and reused.”

Buying less is probably the easiest way to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle. Resist the urge to buy trendy clothes and shoes that won’t ever be worn. Stop taking a giant stack of napkins when you only need one. Invest in metal straws and reusable bags and glass containers for leftovers. Both James and Yoder emphasized the need to take responsibility for our trash and consciously think about the choices we are making.

Sophie Morton, a sophomore at the U studying environmental sustainability, adds that every little bit matters. “Some people say that refusing one straw doesn’t make a difference, but if a hundred people or a thousand people start to make little changes we will start to see serious change.”

Comics create common ground in Salt Lake City

Story and photo gallery by GREG HOUSE

It’s Wednesday and for those in the know, that means new editions of their favorite comic books are hitting the shelves at Black Cat Comics, located at 2261 Highland Drive in Salt Lake City.

The walls of Black Cat Comics are brightly colored, seeming to come from the comics that line its shelves. Customers walk in and out throughout the day and Greg Gage — the man behind the operation — greets many of them by name, often with a prearranged stack of new arrivals set aside for the customer to purchase.

Gage grew up reading comic books, but gradually stopped as he got older.

“I kind of got back into them on a whim,” he said. “I picked up a couple of books I used to read and was like ‘God, this is cool,’ and after that, it was over.”

Gage reintroduced himself to comics as a young adult and he saw that the stories being told were not just the shallow, fun superhero romps he remembers from his childhood.

“There’s some real, honest-to-God literature in here,” he said. “It’s not just people jumping around like idiots punching people. There’s more to this than I thought.”

When he decided to open his own comic book store in 2004, he knew that creating a welcoming environment for his customers and hiring employees who understood that were both key ingredients for this business, which celebrated 15 years in business in May 2019.

With such a wide selection to choose from, there are many reasons why fans like Kyle Jackson keep reading comic books.

“I like reading a lot of different titles that show characters who are something to aspire to,” he said. “Not that I think I can learn to have superpowers, but the people underneath the masks are what is great to me.”

Taylor Hoffman used to shop at a different comic book store. But, after feeling like her reading choices were being judged by some of the employees, she started shopping at Black Cat Comics. She said she found the sense of community she was looking for.

“I immediately felt so much better, like I had a place to go,” she said. “After I graduated college, I kept coming by until Greg hired me and started paying me to stick around and talk about comics.”

As an employee at Black Cat Comics for more than five years, Hoffman tries to make sure that even younger readers feel like equal members of the community.

“I just love picking out things for little kids,” she said. “Especially younger girls because I wish I had that when I was a kid.”

Over the years, Hoffman has seen some of the store’s regular customers come in with their newborn babies and as those babies grow up she starts to recommend comics for them as well as their parents.

The all-ages section of Black Cat Comics is home to books featuring characters from Saturday morning cartoons as well as child-friendly versions of heroes who might otherwise be considered too violent.

“This is my baby,” she said, motioning to the all-ages section of the store. “I try to read all of these so I know how to talk to the kids who come in.”

It isn’t hard to see why a child would enjoy a weekly trip to the comic book store and Hoffman thinks comics can be an educational tool for them as well.

“Comics are such a great medium for younger kids to get into the habit of reading because there’s the picture books without as many words and then they graduate into [books with] more speech bubbles,” she said.

However, comic books are not just a children’s medium any more. A wide variety of heroes means there is a character for everyone, especially with the bigger publishers like Marvel Comics, who are pushing for more diversity in their mainstream lineup of characters.

Whether it is a young woman of color taking over the mantel of Ironman, now Ironheart, or a revelation that the X-Men team member known as Iceman has come out of the closet as a gay man, diversity plays an increasingly important role in today’s comic book landscape.

Sina Grace, who wrote the now concluded Iceman series for Marvel said on a public Instagram story post about writing inclusive stories, “To my knowledge, no publisher puts something out simply cuz it’s LGBTQ friendly,” he wrote. “Even Iceman, the reasoning was: there’s a story to be told about a man dealing with a secret he’s kept for 10+ years, not THAT he’s gay.”

When Gage first opened his store, he wanted to create a place where everyone can feel welcomed, regardless of their identity or background.

“Inclusivity makes more people feel more welcome in this space,” Gage said, “and that’s what I want, both from a business standpoint and a community standpoint.”

Emma Johnson


Traumatizing aftermath of active school shooter drills


For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a special connection to news. I grew up in a home where local and national happenings were a common topic of conversation. In the 6th grade I participated in a program called “Biztown,” a program created for students to help familiarize themselves with the professional workforce. In preparation we had to fill out a questionnaire explaining what we liked doing, our strengths, weaknesses etc.

At the age of 12 most of my friends wanted to be professional dancers, accountants like their fathers or interior designers, all I wanted to do was talk about the news. I finally made the connection that that I could make news my career and I’ve been working at it even since.

My mother always said “If you have a job you love you never work a day in your life.” I love being a journalist, its something I am passionate about and something that challenges me everyday. In Intro to News Writing this semester I was challenged by coming up with sources and topic ideas. I was able to improve my gathering skills and work on mastering my idea focus.

I was able to strengthen my overall writing and story developing this semester. Learning and developing skills that helped me come up with story ideas eased the stress of the class. Discovering some useful sties and places to go for ideas is a skill I have developed that will greatly help me throughout my journalistic career.

ABOUT ME: University of Utah Communications and Journalism student graduating in May. Working as an assignment desk editor at ABC4 News Utah. Lover of news writing dedicated news junkie. After graduation, I plan on staying at ABC4 and working towards my goal of becoming a multi media journalist.

Berklee Hammond


Intermountain Healthcare announces groundbreaking policy that removes pharmaceutical representatives and medication samples from Utah practices and hospitals


I developed my story idea from a close family member who has been affected by Intermountain Healthcare prohibiting samples and representatives. This story intrigued me because these changes could affect this family member’s livelihood. Every year since these changes, people in the pharmaceutical industry have been getting laid off because of Intermountain’s new policies. 

I located my sources by networking with contacts in the pharmaceutical industry. They then referred me to Intermountain Healthcare’s specific contacts. I reviewed websites, as well as documents that were distributed to the pharmaceutical industry.

My sources were knowledgeable and affected by the changes. They all had firsthand knowledge of the timeline and reasons for the new policies. The Intermountain Healthcare contacts were involved in creating the policies and materials that were distributed to representatives during the time of the announcement.

Researching and gathering information for this story was more difficult than I anticipated. Many sources were careful with their words and opinions regarding their feelings about the new policy. Several declined to comment because they were afraid they might receive backlash from their individual company as well as Intermountain. I was able to work around this because they referred me to an official statement about the changes from Intermountain Healthcare.

The document released by Intermountain Healthcare called “Removal of Pharmaceutical Representatives and Medication Samples from Intermountain Clinics” helped me decide my focus. There were so many angles that I could take with the overall topic with the changes in the last 10 years regarding Big Pharma guidelines. There were changes happening around the time of my story and that is how I decided my focus. I wanted my story to be news-worthy and time relevant. 

The writing process was overwhelming at first. I made an outline and thought through my process and this helped it become manageable. I thought I would be more intimidated to speak to my sources, but I developed my questions and the interviews came naturally. I felt like I asked insightful questions.

It surprised me learning about the amount of work that the doctors are going to have to put in because of this policy change. I know how much training my family member had to go through so they were able to educate physicians on certain drugs. Intermountain is the largest healthcare provider in the state and this change is going to affect a lot of people.


A goal should scare you a little, and excite you a lot. — Joe Vitale

I have set many goals in life, some are scary and all are exciting. However, obtaining my degree in Communication and a career in marketing and public relations is on the top of my list.

I am a junior at the University of Utah working toward my degree in Strategic Communication. I have been adding important and useful skills and knowledge to my arsenal in preparation for “real life” upon graduation.

I have enjoyed my time at the U as a student and collegiate cheerleader. I love traveling and visiting different stadiums during football season. My experience has also been growing through knowledge gained in various internship opportunities.

When I’m not on campus I enjoy spending time with my dog Stormie, going to the gym, reading, traveling and anything outdoors. 

Natalie Freeze



When considering topics for my enterprise story, I was inspired by Grist, a non-profit news organization that devotes time and attention to covering environmental policies and explaining complicated issues. I love watching their videos and reading their daily newsletter. This is where I got a lot of my foundational information to craft my story.

I chose to write about the revised recycling standards because it is something so relevant and important, yet I didn’t see many articles written about it. Once I had completed some background research about the recycling issues in the United States, I turned to my interview sources. This helped me narrow my focus from a national issue to a state issue and finally to a campus concern.

I also knew that I wanted to get a student perspective as well as professional opinions. For my influential interviews, I talked to Ashlee Yoder who works directly with the sustainability department of the Salt Lake Valley Landfill. She was a great resource because every day she sees the consequences of not recycling. I hadn’t thought about this before, but those who work with the landfill are some of the biggest advocates for proper recycling.

Josh James was also a great contact because he oversees recycling on campus. He gave me great insight into what the University of Utah is currently doing to improve the waste management system on campus and how China’s restrictions have impacted it’s policies and procedures.

I also interviewed a student studying environmental sustainability at the U. Sophie Morton was helpful because we were able to talk about what challenges we see with recycling on campus. A student’s perspective was important because they are the ones who are making daily decisions about recycling and she was also able to direct me to some great articles about this topic.

A challenge for me was coordinating the landfill tour because it took communicating weeks in advance about dates and times that could work and then finding a friend who was willing to drive us there as I do not have access to a car. Overcoming these challenges was well worth it in the end, and seeing the Salt Lake Valley Landfill in person was so interesting and different from what I expected. I was surprised that it did not smell bad at all!

Finally, after researching about recycling and interviewing my three sources, I was ready to write. I wanted to keep it as clear and simple as possible, so that anyone reading my story could understand the issue, why it matters, and what they can do to make a difference. Keeping this framework in mind, I made sure that I concluded my story with action steps and optimism.


Growing up, I had this strange dream of being a pharmacist. But only if I could work at Walgreens. It all began in the back seat of a mini-van, waiting in the drive-thru lane of Walgreens picking up a prescription with my mom. The line was taking forever, and my mom was not satisfied with their speed of service. She was frustrated that there was only one pharmacist working. So naturally, I decided right then and there to become a pharmacist. But not just any pharmacist, a Walgreens pharmacist.

Thirteen years later, and sorry mom, but I don’t think that is the plan anymore. After graduating from Lone Peak High School in Highland, Utah; I chose to further my education by joining the Honors College at the University of Utah. Freshmen year, I had no idea what I wanted to spend the next four years of my life studying, but I knew that I had a passion for humanities. From world geography to art history, I wanted to focus on human interactions and connections.

After taking a major exploration course last fall, I discovered my passion for the field of communication. I am currently finishing my sophomore year here at the U, and I am looking forward to studying abroad this summer in Patagonia, Argentina. I am planning to graduate in the spring of 2021 with a major in Health Science Environment and Risk Communication and the Ecology and Legacy Integrated minor. I hope to either continue my education in grad school or start a career working with a nonprofit or some sort of social marketing agency.

Nic Nielsen


Students turn to piracy in face of high textbook prices


I will admit that I had a difficult time when tasked with coming up with a story idea. It wasn’t until I saw a student pull up a PDF of his textbook in class that I realized I wanted to write on the trend of pirating textbooks. I instantly began doing research on textbooks and was shocked to see just how much new textbook prices have increased in the last decade. I knew this was something students would care about, so I began to ask around campus at the University of Utah.

I interviewed a handful of students, but the topic was sensitive. After all, downloading PDFs of copyrighted textbooks is illegal, so no one would want to go on record saying they’ve actually done it. When I met Olivia Gonzales in the campus library, she was very open about how her friends and even previous teachers have been pirating textbooks. While she wouldn’t give any names, I knew this was going to be the best on-record source about the popularity of the trend.

I came across Thomas Young on a UTA TRAX Red Line train and was instantly intrigued by the stack of textbooks in his hands. He allowed me to interview him, and he provided an interesting point of view on the subject of my story. I was surprised to learn that, although he was unhappy about the price increase, he still preferred to have a physical copy. Because his views differed from everyone else that I interviewed, I knew he was an important source for my story.

Shane Girton was also a fantastic source due to his knowledge of textbooks and his position at the U’s campus store. He provided great information on the process of selling books back to the store, something I originally wanted to discuss in my story, but I decided not to include it because it took away from the focus of pirating textbooks. 

The biggest surprise for me was learning from Girton that publishers set the prices of textbooks at the bookstore. Many of the students I interviewed were under the impression that the bookstore chose the prices, as was I, so this information felt important to share.

Once I had the statistics and quotes that I planned to use, putting the story together was easy. Doing the research first was extremely helpful because if I didn’t know about the textbook price increase or the statistics about students choosing to not purchase textbooks, the quality of my interviews would not have been as high. Through writing this story I learned a lot, and I hope readers will too.


Nic Nielsen is a communication major at the University of Utah following a strategic communication sequence. He is expecting to graduate in December 2019 and plans to pursue a career in marketing and advertising. Currently, he works as a marketing consultant and as a marketing intern for Intermountain Healthcare. In the future, he hopes to help small businesses grow by creating marketing strategies and working with them to build stronger social media presences. Ultimately, his goal is to start his own business by opening a restaurant in Southern California.

In his spare time, Nic works as an actor, something he has been passionate about his whole life. He has worked on local productions, commercials for companies such as Amazon Audible and Klymit, shows such as Disney’s “Andi Mack,” and the A24 horror film “Hereditary.” Along with acting, Nic also enjoys screenwriting and has written a 10-episode season for a half-hour comedy that he hopes to get produced. His other hobbies include surfing, hiking, running, and anything else that keeps him on his feet and moving. Due to his love for the ocean, he actively promotes ocean conservation and is a member of the Surfrider Foundation. 

Jenna S. O’Dell


Tayler Lacey talks new EP and journey to being a musician


Live performances has always been my favorite way to listen to music. The combination of musicians’ energy, multiple musicians and instruments playing together and stage lighting, creates something so magical and captivating. Because I go to so many concerts, I’ve considered writing a music blog about my experiences. 

I’ve known Tayler Lacey for over a year. I’ve been to many of his shows and we’ve had many discussions about different ways for him to promote his music. When presented with this project I thought this would be a great way for me to get started on music writing and reviews and for him to get some exposure. 

Initially I was afraid that I wouldn’t have been able to complete this story. At the time he wasn’t performing as frequently as I had remembered. Fortunately there was one performance just a few days before the first deadline.

Lacey was a lot of fun to interview. Seeing Tayler perform was the first time I’ve been to an acoustic show in a few years. He was super eager to meet with me and talk to me about his new EP. He was happy to share information with me and was detailed about his songwriting process and story.


I am a University of Utah junior studying Strategic Communication. I’m originally from a small town in Connecticut where I received my Associate of Arts in Marketing and Sales from Northwestern Connecticut Community College. 

I’ve been involved in the performing arts since I was 4 years old, studying dance, music and theater and I had an internship opportunity working in the marketing department of The Warner Theatre in Torrington, Connecticut. With the performing arts being a big part of my life, I was inspired to work toward a career in the music industry.

Pamela Smith


New marketing strategies help a local business grow


Coming up with an idea for an enterprise story ideas was difficult. I had to think about the things I was interested in and if others would be interested in them as well. I finally settled on how local businesses are marketing themselves to stay competitive. I used businesses that I knew about and have frequently visited. Locating my sources was easy since I had been there before.

I found it difficult to set up interviews with all three of my originally planned sources and in the end I only interviewed one of the owners about her business, one of her customers, and an employee.

Speaking with the owner of this company gave me insight on how to take a small business and make it grow. When i had first talked to her about doing an interview she made it clear that I may not like the answers she gave me, but I proceeded with the interview anyway. I found it easy to connect with her and have a conversation openly and without feeling awkward. During the interview, there were no distractions and we were able to talk about the business and her personal life as if we had known each other for awhile.

After reading over my notes I had written, I tried to put them in a storyboard order so that I could show my audience about her marketing strategies and give insight on her business. I tried to incorporate quotes when necessary that really emphasized what she talked about.

Throughout the writing process I kept having to reword things and try to remember not to add my opinion into it. I learned that I am not the best journalistic writer because I do have a lot of opinions on things and it is difficult for me to not include them. Writing my whole enterprise story was a learning experience for me because I had to learn to write in AP, cite sources in-text, and not include my opinion.

Just remember that when you are writing, write about something that you find interesting and make sure to write it in a new perspective not written about before.


I am a junior at the University of Utah, getting my degree in strategic communication with an emphasis in marketing. I received my associate degree from Dixie State University in spring 2016 and then continued going for my bachelors for a couple more semesters. After deciding that Dixie was not the school for me I moved back to Salt Lake City. I took a year off to work and travel and then started at the U in fall 2018.

I love attending the University of Utah because of its diverse culture and its access to all the mountains. I am super passionate about any outdoor activity such as hiking, climbing, camping, and boating, just to name a few. Living so close to campus has helped me interact with the unique culture of campus and surrounding Salt Lake area and grow into a more open independent person.

I have been working for the U for about two years in facilities management. I started as an assistant buyer and recently took a job as an administrative assistant. I also work weekends for The 5K Color Run. With this job, I get to travel to various states inside the U.S. and help put this event on for thousands of people. Both of these jobs have given me experience with managing inventory, money, and people and given me the opportunity to go to school and travel.

Isabella Buoscio


Mental Health Help for College Students


This story came to me because of my own experience in college with anxiety and depression. I have found that, in college, what were previously manageable disorders have become more of a burden. I went through a very dark period that led me to transfer schools from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3,000 miles from home, to the University of Utah, 30 miles from home. Therapy and talking about my own issues have taught me to cope with these experiences and led me to want to help others accept their own plights and do the same.

One source I went to is a person whom I talked to many times when I first transferred home to the University of Utah. Annmarie Flock is a trusted source I could go to when I needed help. I knew she was knowledgeable about what goes on during sessions and what practices are put into play to deal with disorders. I knew she would add to my story by giving readers facts from a trusted source.

My next two sources are two people whom I know currently attend therapy. One is a friend of a friend and the other happens to be one of my closest friends. I knew Zoe Baukman slightly in high school. She was a grade younger than me. I also knew her significant other, whom I did not enjoy. When I heard about her struggle, I knew she would be a good person to talk to about why therapy can help. Addi Poddska and I talk at length about why everyone should go to therapy and how people should accept that everyone is a little messed up. I went to her first when my story idea came to me. She offered to do an interview right away. I thought she would be a good source because she is more of the typical anxiety/depression case, where multiple things add up in college giving her stress.

One obstacle I encountered was figuring out how much of Zoe’s story to put in. I wanted the readers to know what she had gone through, but I also wanted to respect Zoe’s privacy. For this reason, I had to sort through her interview and make sure I was wording things to protect Zoe.

I knew my focus of the story was going to be why and where you can receive therapy at the University of Utah. I do not think enough students utilize this service. It is much less expensive than a private therapist and the therapists all have experience with students. They are equipped to help. From there I knew I needed a ‘why’, so I wanted to find sources readers could relate to and maybe take inspiration from.

I learned that I write best when I outline everything I am going to say. I also freak out about the assignment until it is actually done, part of my anxiety coming into play. I often need to dump everything in my brain on a page and leave it for a couple of days then come back to the story and clean it up. It takes LOTS of cleaning up.


Isabella Buoscio grew up in Park City, Utah, before attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison for freshman year of college. She started off studying dance but felt more drawn to other forms of creative art, such as film and writing. During this year she learned a lot about mental health and how her peers handled it. During the summer between freshman and sophomore year, she decided to transfer home to the University of Utah to benefit her own mental health. Since then she has become passionate about helping others who are struggling and coaxing them to try therapy.  She is studying communication arts, specifically video production and marketing.

She would love to run a large-scale campaign on mental health awareness in college one day. For now, she will continue taking classes and spending her free time hanging out with friends in the beautiful state of Utah.

Greg House


Comics create common ground in Salt Lake City


Comic books are something I have been interested in for a while now. Near the end of 2018, I wrote a paper on inclusivity and representation in the medium. Research for that paper led me to be more curious about the communities of people who read and bond over comic books.

After establishing myself as a regular presence at my local comic book store, Black Cat Comics, I got to know Greg Gage, the owner, and Taylor Hoffman, his employee. The three of us had a few conversations over a couple of weeks about different stories I could write about the community as a whole, but through the lens of one store.

Hoffman and Gage were the best people I could have talked to for this story because, while they both have a vested interest in keeping the store running, they are also huge fans of comics themselves. Our interviews often got sidetracked into mutual tangents about what makes one character so great or why a particular writer did so well with a franchise. Those tangents were what allowed me to get the best quotes that I used for my story.

One anecdote that didn’t make it into my story has stuck out in my mind. Hoffman told a story about how a particular issue of a Superman comic spoke to her on a personal level and it is something that she revisits regularly when she hits hard times. Part of the reason that didn’t make it to the final draft was that she told me this after the main interview had taken place and I wasn’t recording her anymore.

The focus wasn’t super clear until after I spoke with Greg about the story and went home to sit on it for a while. I wanted it to be more than an advertisement for a local shop and something that people who don’t read comic books could enjoy and understand as well.


Growing up, I always wanted to be a comedian. Telling stories and making people happy have always made me feel good about myself. 

Shortly after I graduated high school, I enlisted in the US Navy and spent five years as a mass communication specialist. It was a great job that had me working with cameras, radio studios, and in various public affairs settings. While in the Navy, I was stationed in Japan and Guam. While those duty stations are as different as two places can be, I was able to travel all around Southeast Asia, which sparked a love of travel in me. Since getting out of the military, I have traveled to Morocco, Spain, Portugal, and England. 

After my contract with the Navy ended, I moved to Salt Lake City. As soon as I moved here, I started my education as an education major at Salt Lake Community College before transferring to the U as a Strategic Communication Major.

After I finish my degree, I’d like to work as a public affairs specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs while doing documentary work on the side.

Camille Aglaure


The most sustainable and ethical diet for people and the planet


For my story, I knew immediately that I wanted it to pertain to health. I figured that any new information I could gain would only fuel the fiery passion I have for nutrition, holistic medicine, and environmental health. 

After some debate, I finally settled on the specific question of what kind of diet is the most sustainable? I’ll be honest, I initially went in with some bias. As someone who follows a mostly vegan diet, I have become increasingly aware of the damaging effects animal products have on the human body, as well as on the environment. Because of this, I was sure that, while likely enlightening, any interviews I conducted with my sources were probably going to confirm my current opinions. I felt as though I could write the story without even consulting any outside, professional sources. Well, after my interviews, I quickly discovered how wrong I was in my assumption.

In my first interviews with Dr. Thunder Jalili, Ph.D., and Anne P. Taylor, registered dietitian, I was enlightened on the fact that although the average western diet should drastically reduce intake of animal-based products, it is not necessary to cut it out entirely. Already, with that detail alone, my perspective was forced to shift if I wanted to be as accurate to my sources as possible. 

My most significant interview to shift my perspective, though, was the one I conducted with Christy Clay, Ph.D., on the ecology and ethics of a universal diet. I chose to interview Dr. Clay because of her background in the study of local agriculture, ecology, and environmental studies. About five minutes into the interview, I knew that my question was entirely wrong. She enlightened me on how damaging the implementation of any universal behavior can be to regions and cultures. She explained to me the importance of diets being bio-regional, instead of universally the same. 

Were it not for the interviews, I would have written a completely different story that would have never touched on the ecology of food systems, how damaged our current food system is, or how we, as members of our community, can potentially restore it to one that is ultimately most sustainable for everyone.


I grew up in Park City, Utah my whole life until 2014 when I moved to Salt Lake City. Although I would consider myself much better suited for warm weather, I’ve developed an incredible adoration for the snow-capped mountains, diverse landscapes, and varied seasons in which I was enveloped my entire life.  

When I first started attending the University of Utah, I was pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. After completing a couple semesters, my passion for what I was studying had faded and had changed its course toward subjects that would allow me to better explore creative and colorful aspects of my mind. 

With a passion for sociology and marketing inherited to me by my parents in similar professions, I dove into a Communications major the day before the deadline to drop classes. Two days into my entirely new schedule of classes, I knew that I had made the right decision. 

What I found so immediately fascinating about Communications studies was how much I found it to be a demonstration that human beings are incredibly complex yet predictable. I found it beautiful that Communications highlights the fact that we are all connected to one another through human experience and the similar ways we perceive things. 

Currently, my passions include – but are not limited to – cooking, health & nutrition, holistic medicine, mental health, sociology, and being in nature as much as possible. 

As I embark on my career journey, I hope to be able to apply my passions to the work I do while simultaneously finding a way to make my work meaningful to myself and other people. To me, the most important way to be fulfilled in what I do for a profession is to know that I am able to help make other people’s lives better and potentially make the world a better place. 

Isabelle Curran



My story idea came from a long term interest in social media and the things I’ve noticed while living in Utah for the past two years. I had noticed a correlation between media success and users in Utah before I had even lived here, so my fascination only grew once I was in the middle of it all. I had high hopes of reaching out and connecting with people I really wanted to talk to, but it wasn’t as easy as that. As can be expected, many of the popular Utah social media users whom I was hoping to interview were very busy with their work, which entails lots of travel and tight scheduling.

Even though it was hard to get interviews, I was able to recognize how their travels are their jobs, so it makes sense that they are busy. The interviews I did hold were contacts made through networking. I got a lot of suggestions of people to reach out to from other people I had contacted, which was very helpful. The three sources I ended up with were very interesting and helped to develop my story. I was able to get multiple different perspectives and learn something new from each of them as well. Since I struggled to get sources, the focus was the biggest issue I had after that. My original format wasn’t going to work with the interviews I had then acquired. So to refine my story, I sifted through the information I had gathered and made sure to keep considering the two major themes of Utah and social media.

Once I had enough information, writing came pretty easily. I knew what I wanted to say and what quotes and interview material I planned on including. This article process gave me a lot of respect for reporters and journalists because articles aren’t easy tasks, especially doing multiple stories under tight deadlines. I now have a new ice cream place to enjoy and know where to get new home decor. I’m really glad I stuck with my story idea as I feel like I learned a lot about new people and their businesses in Utah.


I am currently a sophomore at the University studying Strategic Communications. I was born and raised in California, which I love and miss everyday when I am away from it. However, I have been visiting Utah for the past fifteen years, so I do consider it my second home.

I have always loved the creative arts. Photography and dance have been passions of mine ever since I was little. As I got older I became well versed in social media very quickly and like to use it to show my photos and designs. I hope to use this interest and my schooling to pursue a career in media marketing and content creation. Some dream positions would be working for a sports team or a media company such as GoPro or Havas Media Group.