Long, strange road
Paula Rausch, left, and Aimee Westcott teamed up to cover a girls' shelter run by a nongovernmental organization in San Marcos, Nicaragua. (Photo by Matt Marriott)
How they got here and where are they now?
The 2004 Florida FlyIns students’ academic and professional journeys have been as interesting as the stories they produced about Nicaragua’s Carazo region:
Melanie Marquez, JM 2005, enrolled in
the Florida FlyIns course in 2004 as a public relations major. Her tasks
included publicizing the group’s online magazine and Reitz Union exhibit.
By the time the group traveled to Nicaragua’s Carazo region in October 2004, Marquez had changed her major to journalism. Although she continued to play the public relations role for the group, she also participated as a journalist, writing a story about Nicaragua’s Jewish community. Today, she’s a city government reporter at The Bradenton Herald.
Photojournalism senior Matt Marriott, who plans to graduate in December, studied anthropology at the University of Kentucky for one year before discovering photography in the Navy.
After he finished his four-year service, he came to UF to study photojournalism. “I
used to spend 12 hours a day on
the aircraft and then four or five hours in the photo lab,” said Marriott, who’s been assisting on Sports Illustrated shoots the past couple of years.
Kelly-Anne Suarez, JM 2006, picked her major out of the UF course-book. She had thought about becoming a cardiologist “like on Chicago Hope,” she said, “but I don’t like science. So I thought I’d become a lawyer, but I’m not passionate about the law.” She also considered theater and English before settling on journalism.
“I love it,” said Suarez, an apprentice at the LA Times who joins The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) staff in January. “It’s perfect.”
Lauren Russell, JM 2002, was writing for Men’s
Health magazine when she signed up for the FlyIns course as a graduate
student in Latin American Studies. One of her main challenges at the time
was dealing with her living situation: A tree crashed through her roof
during a September hurricane, forcing her to move mid-semester.
Today, she lives in New York City, where she continues to freelance for Men’s Health and Women’s Health.
Daron Dean, JM 2004, faced even bigger problems. He was recuperating from serious auto accident injuries he suffered driving back from his summer Anchorage Daily News photo internship in Alaska.
Dean, who recently completed an internship at the Dallas Morning News and joined the staff at the Bellingham Herald in Washington, remained in the course as a photo editor. But he had to give up going to Nicaragua.
That opened the door for Liza Shurik, JM 2005, who had been shooting for less than a year at that point and was on a waiting list.
Shurik had several majors before she settled on photojournalism, a few months before the FlyIns class started. She ended up graduating with a double major: Photojournalism and Russian Studies. Today, she serves as senior Program Advisor for Proposal Development and Grant Writing at AIDS Foundation East-West in Moscow.
Katie Reid, JM 2004, is also working overseas. She’s an editor with the Editors’ Group in Sydney, Australia.
David Zentz, MAMC 2005, who did internships at the Chicago Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times, is a staff photographer at the Peoria Journal-Star in Illinois.
Danny Ghitis, JM 2006, just completed a summer internship at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and started a fall internship at the St. Petersburg Times.
History senior Claudia Adrien, who did a summer internship at Newsweek in New York, plans to graduate in May 2007.
Laura Fiorilli, MAMC 2006, is an editor and blogger at TBO.com, which runs content from The Tampa Tribune and WFLA.
Paula Rausch, MAMC 2006, entered the College’s science/health doctoral program this semester.
Erica Brough interviews Lino Flores inside his makeshift home in Nicaragua's Carazo region. (Photo by Boaz Dvir)
Erica Brough, JM 2005, is a staff photographer at the Ocala Star-Banner.
A few years ago, Brough met with a career counselor who suggested photojournalism. Although it had never crossed her mind, it immediately appealed to her. “I ask what it’s about,” Brough recalled. “When she told me, I thought it sounded great – creative, non-routine, you travel.” She recently used the skills she picked up in Nicaragua when she covered Ocala missionaries in the Dominican Republic for the Star-Banner.
“It felt really great using all that I learned in the Florida FlyIns to produce an entire story on my own,” she said. “The proposal, the descriptive writing, the Español! I interviewed the mayor and the governor’s assistant entirely in Spanish!”
Aimee Westcott, JM 2004, is a commercial photographer in San Diego. “I often think of our time in Nicaragua and the people and the culture and how much they taught me,” she said. During her week in Carazo, she had an “overwhelming feeling for the first time that I was a photojournalist.”