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Journalism major looks forward to international and national immersion experiences

October 30, 2012
Taylor Kuether

Taylor Kuether, a senior journalism major, will be part of a UW-Eau Claire delegation to China in November and then will spend three weeks as a fellow in The Washington Post newsroom in January.

Read Kuether's blog sharing details of the UW-Eau Claire delegation's trip to China.

EAU CLAIRE — When Taylor Kuether arrived on campus four years ago, she brought with her a dream that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire would help her go places.

But never did she imagine that her dreams would come true in a very literal way.

The senior journalism major from Grafton will leave in early November for China, where she will spend two weeks as part of a UW-Eau Claire delegation charged with helping the university strengthen existing partnerships and establish new relationships with universities, businesses and alumni in China, including Hong Kong, Hangzhou and Shanghai. (Read Kuether's blog sharing details of the trip.)

Shortly after she returns, Kuether will go to Washington, D.C., where she will spend three weeks as a student fellow in The Washington Post's newsroom.

"I never thought that in my lifetime I would go to China or work in The Washington Post's large and prestigious newsroom," Kuether said. "It's incredible to me that I'll be doing both of these things in the next few months. This is all like a dream."

While UW-Eau Claire prides itself on providing students with life-changing domestic and international immersion experiences, having one student participate in two of these experiences in just a couple of months is incredible, said Interim Chancellor Gilles Bousquet.

"Clearly, Taylor is an exceptionally talented and ambitious student," Bousquet said. "But equally impressive is UW-Eau Claire's commitment to creating these kinds of meaningful experiences for its students here and abroad."

In China, Kuether will use her journalism and communications skills to chronicle the UW-Eau Claire delegation's work through blogs, photos, stories and interviews with alumni and others. Her work will appear in The Spectator, UW-Eau Claire's student newspaper, as well as in other university publications and on university websites.

"One of my goals is to help demystify China for students on our campus," Kuether said. "I want to help students here understand that while geographically China is far away, in reality our world today is very small."

Kuether will return from China in late November, and UW-Eau Claire's newest Ann Devroy Memorial Fellow then will begin preparing for her three-week residency at The Washington Post in January 2013. The fellowship is presented annually to a UW-Eau Claire journalism student who shows exceptional promise and ability.

Both experiences, Kuether said, will allow her to enhance her journalism skills and gain confidence in her ability to live and work in settings far outside of her comfort zone.

"I'm so fortunate that in China and in Washington, D.C., I will have seasoned professionals guiding me through what I am sure will be life-changing experiences," Kuether said. "It's reassuring that campus leaders who know China well will help me navigate a culture that is so different from my own. And in Washington, D.C., I will have established journalists mentoring me."

UW-Eau Claire is an internationally minded campus that sends many students abroad to study, do research and participate in service projects, said Bousquet, who will lead the seven-person delegation to China.

Including a student in UW-Eau Claire's official delegation to China fits well with the university's effort to provide more students with international experiences, Bousquet said. Choosing a journalism major as the student delegate made sense since much of the delegation's focus will be on sharing information and building relationships, he said.

Kuether's strong communication skills will be an asset as the delegation works to raise UW-Eau Claire's profile among Chinese university leaders and students, and help UW-Eau Claire students better understand opportunities available to them in Asia, Bousquet said.

Through Kuether's blog, photos and stories, UW-Eau Claire students will learn about a part of the world that is of growing importance to American-based businesses, industries and other organizations, Bousquet said. Hopefully, she will inspire more UW-Eau Claire students to live, learn, do research or pursue internships in China, he said.

"Including Taylor in this delegation is a win for everyone," Bousquet said. "She's already a talented writer, but this will give her an opportunity to use her journalism skills in a place where English is not the first language. This experience will make her more globally aware and more globally competent, which will help her grow as a person and as a journalist."

The China trip also will likely make her more confident when she walks into The Washington Post newsroom a few weeks later, Kuether said, noting that if she can share and gather information in a country where the language and culture is so different, navigating a newsroom in the nation's capital should seem less intimidating.

As part of the 15th Ann Devroy Memorial Fellowship, Kuether receives a three-week residency at The Washington Post, a $2,000 scholarship to offset the costs of the residency and a paid summer internship at a Wisconsin newspaper. She will be at The Post during her winter break in January 2013.

Kuether was named the Devroy Fellow last spring during the Ann Devroy Memorial Forum. Each spring the forum event features award-winning journalists who worked with Ann Devroy during her prestigious journalism career.

Devroy, a 1970 graduate of UW-Eau Claire, was a White House correspondent for more than 15 years. She joined The Post staff in 1985 and died of cancer in 1997. Family, friends and colleagues honored her by establishing a fellowship and forum in her name at UW-Eau Claire through the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

The China and Washington, D.C., experiences will add to Kuether's already impressive resume, which includes writing and editing for the student newspaper, The Spectator; hosting the weekly Local Independence radio program at the campus radio station, WUEC; writing for the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram; and writing for Volume One, an arts publication based in Eau Claire. Also, she currently is serving as master of ceremonies at the Backstage Concert Series at the State Theatre in Eau Claire.

For more information, contact Taylor Kuether at kuethete@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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