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Ann Devroy Fellows

Andee Erickson: 2016 Devroy Fellow Andee Erickson


Courtney KueppersCourtney Kueppers: 2015 Devroy Fellow

From a Virginia courtroom to a historic blizzard, the three weeks I spent reporting for The Washington Post
as the 18th Ann Devroy Fellow were nothing if not memorable, exhilarating and educational. I feel forever indebted to the many people who made this life
changing opportunity possible and to the editors and reporters at The Post who graciously accepted me as a member of their team.

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

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

Nick Erickson: 2014 Devroy Fellow
Nick Erickson

As I'm sure most other Devroy Scholars experienced, my stomach had butterflies when I was checking in at The Washington Post for my January residency there. But also like the 16 others, I was there because of the hard work and dedication Ann Devroy displayed at all times of her career.

So as I walked up to the security table, I thought of what
that tenacious woman would be feeling if she were in my place. She would have
one mission in mind: to contribute. And that's exactly the approach I adopted. I
wanted to not just represent the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and its journalism program, I wanted to show just how special this department really is.

Seeing the world through free-throw percentages and batting averages, I spent most of my time in the sports desk.

My most rewarding opportunity came when I pitched a feature idea to the sports editor, which he graciously let me pursue. I headed to George Washington University to spend time with a player on the women's basketball team who was born in the Bahamas and came to a different family in the United States to pursue her dream of making it as far as she could in the sport. I felt her story of courage and passion deserved telling, and I think that Ann Devroy would have agreed, because she always practiced journalism with courage and passion.

Of course, this incredible opportunity wouldn't have been possible without the support of so many people. My D.C. hosts from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Craig Gilbert and Carol Guensberg, along with their son Andrew, were wonderful and gracious. All Devroy Fellows are incredibly fortunate to be set up with such a kind family. Of course, the journalism faculty here at UW-Eau Claire sparked my passion for this field. And finally, my family and friends on The Spectator have given me incredible support day in and day out, making even the late-night deadlines memorable and worthwhile.

Rachel Minske: 2013 Devroy Fellow Rachel Minske

On my first day of the Ann Devroy fellowship, I stood in awe of the gigantic newsroom. Coming from a small town in the Midwest and arriving in the vibrant, bustling city of Washington, I felt connected to Ann. I was eager to trace her footsteps and learn more about the woman whose prestigious reporting career has helped to launch the futures of 16 Devroy Scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

I imagined Ann Devroy swiftly typing away at her desk, working to complete yet another story on deadline. I scanned the cubicles of The Washington Post and imagined Ann conversing with colleagues, calling sources and returning from trips to the White House. It was an unforgettable experience to walk the same halls that an extraordinary Blugold once walked only years ago.

I spent the majority of my three weeks at the The Washington Post learning how the newspaper effectively uses video, social media and Web content. I was consistently surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable and skilled journalists in the industry - all of whom were willing to share advice over a cup of coffee.

My host parents, Carol Guensburg and Craig Gilbert, along with their son Andrew, warmly welcomed me to Washington, introducing me to many of the things that make D.C. great: journalism, culture and history. I am forever thankful for their extraordinary hospitality. They truly provided a home away from home.

I left The Washington Post on the last day of the fellowship feeling gloomy that it had come to an end but more determined than ever before to be the best journalist I could. I felt energized by the seeing that the "dying" news industry is in fact being reborn. I can't wait to be a part of it, thanks largely to the Ann Devroy fellowship. It is an amazing experience, and I am grateful for everyone who makes it possible.

Taylor Kuether: 2012 Devroy Fellow Taylor Kuether

It was the first press conference I'd ever been to. I stood among the crowd of reporters in the back of the room, listening as both the Washington D.C. police chief and mayor presented the District's 2012 crime statistics. Then, when Chief Lanier opened the floor for questions, I timidly raised my hand. I was by far the youngest and least experienced reporter in the room.

But asking a question at that press conference led to writing my first story for the Post - on the very first day of my fellowship. The following weeks would include more bylines and even a spot on the inaugural parade route, covering the event as an official reporter for The Washington Post.

Knowing Ann Devroy had a penchant for crime reporting, as her widower Mark Mathews told me when we met for lunch a week later, made that crime report story all the more meaningful. Every single step I took during my time in that city, I knew I owed to Ann. Receiving this fellowship in her honor has changed and continues to change my career as a journalist in wonderful ways.

Because of Ann Devroy, I am a better journalist. We all are. Ann's talent and love for her profession enabled her to work in one of the best newsrooms in the world - and because of her, I and 14 fellows before me have had that same experience. "Gratitude" is not strong enough a word for the appreciation I feel for this opportunity.

Because of Ann, I lived my dream. When I tried to express my gratitude to Mr. Mathews, he said, "Every single one of the Devroy fellows has been a tribute to her."

I could not be more proud.

Frank Pellegrino: 2011 Devroy Fellow Frank Pellegrino

Spending my winter break in Washington D.C. as part of the Devroy Fellowship was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. I feel so fortunate to have had this opportunity and can't even begin to thank everyone enough who helped make it possible.

I was able to grow not only as a journalist, but also as a person, and was pleased to come away with a new sense of optimism about this supposedly 'dying' profession.

It was after my first day that I realized just how much of a role multimedia was going to play in the field moving forward. The Washington Post believed in it so much that they rearranged their newsroom to have the people who ran the mobile site and different forms of social media literally at the center of it.

It was then I knew that journalism wasn't going anywhere - it was changing for good, and for the better. Getting to sit in and watch some of the most talented journalists at such a revolutionary time was an invaluable experience that I'll never forget. I am so thankful to Ann Devroy for making such a lasting impression throughout her career and ultimately making this opportunity possible. She is not only one of the greatest journalists to graduate from UW-Eau Claire, but one of the greatest people to have. I am sincerely grateful to my host family, the Gilbert's, for graciously welcoming me into their home and making me feel like a part of their family. Without them, this experience wouldn't have been the same.

I'd also like to thank The Washington Post and all of their reporters who took the time to share their wisdom with me, the UW-Eau Claire foundation for setting up the fellowship, and anyone else who helped make things possible.

Breann Schossow: 2010 Devroy Fellow Breann Schossow

Immediately after the13th Ann Devroy Forum ended, I was juggling my laptop (which was used to send tweets about the event for an assignment) while receiving hugs and well wishes, glowing with excitement. A man approached me, and held out his hand, introducing himself as a family member of Ann's. I'll never forget what he said to me.

"I see Ann in you."

And then he stepped out of line, letting the next person step up to greet me.

That, in itself, is what makes this Fellowship so fantastic. Ann was simply amazing. Knowing that her legacy, determination and thirst for the truth live on in each of the fellows is good for our profession. It is an immense honor to be named as an Ann Devroy Fellow.

With that in mind, I headed to The Washington Post  January 2011.

Spending three weeks there has left me with an unquenchable thirst for this profession. I had the chance to learn the ins and outs of the newsroom, while shadowing some of the most remarkable reporters I have ever met. People who, like Ann, strive to be even better than is possible to do their jobs.

From my day in the Supreme Court to sitting in on the beginning of the health care repeal debate in the House to helping a reporter interview neighbors of a young mother dead before her time, I have changed. I am not the same journalist I was, because learning more about the profession I love has made me better. I will strive to be better than my very best to carry on Ann Devroy's legacy, determination and thirst for the truth.

It's an amazing way to begin a journalism career, and something that I'm indescribably grateful for. Thank you.

McLean Bennett: 2009 Devroy Fellow McLean Bennett

I think the biggest lesson I learned while staying in Washington, D.C. is this: Journalism is all about details.

As one Washington Post staff writer told me: Take note of the type of shoes your sources wear and the type of cigarette they smoke; and always ask them where they grew up and what their parents do for a living. The essence of good journalism, that reporter told me, lies in asking not just the obvious questions, but in asking the unexpected ones and rooting up facts most other reporters overlook.

There were a lot of other things I learned in D.C., though: I discovered that Facebook is much more than a a social networking tool to keep me connected with friends and family -- it can be an invaluable tool to help track down leads and sources; and Twitter, in the right hands, can be a rich wellspring of hidden news tips.

But the overall experience of living and working in D.C. was just as important and beneficial as were the lessons I learned there. I remember remarking to my dad after returning home that my trip had been one of the best experiences of my life -- the people I met (whether in the newsroom or in a taxi cab) and the lessons I learned were immeasurably beneficial to me as a professional and as a student.

I cannot thank enough the professional reporters and editors who took me under their wing that January and showed me what made their jobs and The Washington Post so amazing. The lessons I learned, and the experience as a whole, will not be soon forgotten.

Janie Boschma: 2008 Devroy Fellow Janie Boschma

After returning from Washington, it's been hard to answer the questions: How was Washington? How was the inauguration? What was it like?

Well, I'd ask, how much time do you have? I still can't pinpoint the highlight because there were so many of them! Following reporters around at the inauguration and the Supreme Court, spending the day at Capitol Hill sitting in on press conferences and listening to Vice President Biden's farewell speech to the Senate, witnessing Obama mania, talking about journalism almost nonstop with Mark Matthews, Craig, Carol and the boys, and meeting so many talented individuals… they all stand out to me. It really felt like a dream for me, to spend so much consecutive time doing and learning about what I love. Most of all, though, I enjoyed hearing from Ann's colleagues stories about her and the tremendous impact she had on The Washington Post newsroom and the overall political climate. I was reading about her on the ride back to Arlington after a late night with the Post and was so engrossed that I missed the metro stop, only to wait another half-hour for the next train.

Being there in Ann's honor was sometimes a bit overwhelming. I've never felt so humble and empowered at the same time. I know one thing for sure, though. Whatever shape journalism takes in the next few decades, I want to be part of it. It's tempting to be discouraged in today's tumult, but the world needs strong journalists now more than ever. If we can't individually match Ann's legacy, we can together as solid, determined reporters. Thank you, everyone, for making this opportunity possible.

Nicholas Halter: 2007 Devroy Fellow Nick Halter

Much as the other Devroy fellows will tell you, this opportunity has already had a huge impact on my career and life. The things I learned at The Washington Post have been so valuable to me and equally important to The Spectator. Being able to take some of the skills I learned and apply them to the paper will hopefully leave it in better shape than before I went to D.C.

On top of that, I will be heading to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this summer, which will do wonders for my career. I'm sure I don't speak alone when I say thank you to Ann Devroy and everyone who made this fellowship possible.

Sara Boyd: 2006 Devroy Fellow Sara Boyd

Having the opportunity to participate in a fellowship in the memory of Ann Devroy has been a great honor. The people I've met through working at The Washington Post have made this experience invaluable and have fueled my passion for journalism.

Dennis J. (D.J.) Slater: 2005 Devroy Fellow DJ Slater

Words do not do justice to the significance the Ann Devroy Fellowship has had on my life. It sent me on a journey very few can walk this early in their careers, and it's provided me with a perspective I will never forget.

Ann Devroy set a high, yet brilliant standard in journalism, and I'm humbled to have been honored with the award named for her. With the Devroy Fellowship, I've been able to make impressive strides in my young career. No matter how far I advance, I will always remember the lessons from this honor.

Devroy made a lasting impression in the field because she always stayed determined and worked beyond the limitations of her abilities. I hope to leave a similar impression as I walk in the footsteps of Ann Devroy, and possibly, leave a few of my own along the way.

Gina Duwe: 2004 Devroy Fellow Gina Duwe

I am still amazed at how much knowledge and confidence I gained in such a short time during my internships. The Devroy Fellowship offered many opportunities - from reporting at President Bush's second inauguration for The Washington Post to writing lead stories for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

My experiences cemented my passion for reporting and gave me a solid foundation as I entered the profession. Topped with inspiring stories about Ann Devroy's talent and determination, her career has been the perfect example as I begin my own as a reporter at the Janesville Gazette.

Kelly McBride: 2003 Devroy Fellow Kelly McBride

My experience as a Devroy fellow has served me well in my early career as a journalist. Spending time at The Washington Post, I was able to learn from the best reporters in the business, gaining from not only their wealth of experience, but also from their stories about the legendary Ann Devroy. My time in Washington - the people I met, places I saw and what I experienced - was positively indescribable.

In addition to three wonderful weeks at The Post, the summer internship I earned literally helped launch my career. I spent three months as an intern at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, where I am currently employed as the paper's education reporter. It's given me a great start.

Tim Ruzek: 2002 Devroy Fellow Tim Rusek

Excitement and anxiety filled me on my way to D.C. I was a small-town, southern Minnesotan heading to a three-week venture in a major U.S. city to work at one of the nation's biggest newspapers.

My fellowship was amazing and unforgettable thanks to my hosts and The Post staff. It was a journalism and history geek's dream come true, seeing famous D.C. sites, big-wig reporters and journalists and President Bush at the White House.

I think about my time there quite often. With snow and frigid temps, though, you could say I'm still bitter I didn't have the so-called mild D.C. winter for my walk to the subway and work. But, in seriousness, I always will be grateful to UW-Eau Claire, The Post and Ann Devroy's family for the opportunity.

Leah Thorsen: 2001 Devroy Fellow Leah Thorsen

During my fellowship at The Washington Post, I got my first taste of reporting on crime. I spent several days with two talented criminal justice reporters who not only let me tag along with them, but who took the time to talk about their work and answer my questions. It made me realize that this was the kind of reporting that I wanted to do. My seven months at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also part of the Ann Devroy Fellowship program, further cemented that notion.

Today I cover 16 police departments and a bustling criminal courts system as a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. I'm grateful for the experience the Ann Devroy Fellowship gave me.

Lori Kurtzman: 2000 Devroy Fellow Lori Kurstman

I got the letter junior year. Congratulations, it said. You've won the Ann Devroy Fellowship. And I remember standing there, my hands shaking, thinking: How will I ever prove I'm worthy of this? Well, here I am, seven years later, still trying.

What the Devroy award meant to me was a chance to learn more about a great journalist, to explore the power and impact of newspapers, to sit amid the energy and cluttered desks of a professional newsroom and understand what this business of digesting and sharing information was all about.

It got me hooked. I left for Washington with a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do. I came back without a doubt in my mind. My time at my internship in Madison only reinforced it: Yeah, journalism was definitely for me.

In the time since, I've written hundreds of stories at three different newspapers, covering the big issues and the small ones, always looking for what's important, always trying to tell it in a way that matters. This journalism bug - what I picked up at the Spectator and what became inflamed in Washington and Madison - has stubbornly failed to respond to treatment. I sit at a cluttered desk in the Cincinnati Enquirer newsroom just loving this. But am I worthy yet of the Ann Devroy Fellowship? No way. Check back in another seven years.

Steve Hyden: 1999 Devroy Fellow Steve Hyden

Winning the Devroy Fellowship was sort of like being asked to tour with The Beatles. Every single reporter and editor at The Washington Post was like a rock star to me. I sat next to Howard Kurtz in the newsroom. I ate in the lunchroom with David Broder. I talked shop with Len Downie. To call it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity doesn't go far enough - most journalists will live their whole lives and never get the chance to be part of one of the world's great news organizations, if only for a month.

Chris Carr: 1998 Devroy Fellow Chris Carr

The Ann Devroy Fellowship has had the impact on me and on my journalism career that I hoped it would, if not more. It's a treat now to look back and think about the fellowship. What journalism student at UW-Eau Claire would not dream of being invited to start his post- college newspaper career at The Washington Post? Who would not want to receive the fellowship carrying the name of one of his school's most respected professionals? It didn't seem real then, but it's easy to see now what a gift the fellowship was to me and continues to be for our journalism department. The fellowship was more than a once-in-a-career opportunity - it was motivation, it was the good kind of pressure, and it was a career head start unlike any other in journalism.

I arrived in Washington ready to be a sponge and a workaholic and with a strong desire to live up to the expectations of Devroy's former coworkers. I left with a much better understanding of how a daily newspaper operation works and a good idea about how the best in the business got to be just that. My experiences in Washington and later in Milwaukee prepared me well for a career in print journalism. Today, nine years later, I have a job I love for the paper where I always wanted to work. Would I have arrived at this place without the Ann Devroy Fellowship experience? It's a question I've raised to myself plenty of times, and the only conclusion I come up with is thank goodness I didn't have to find out.