IU newsroom project highlights 10 students making an impact on campus

The 10 IU students featured in "Tried and True."

The 10 IU Bloomington students featured in “Tried and True.” Top row, from left to right: Eddie Mony, John McHugh, Evelyn Bai, Priya Vanka and Eric West Jr. Bottom row: Elena Navarro, Eric Gu, Samantha Strong, Dana Khabbaz and Miguel Yáñez | Photo by IU Communications

Four months ago, the Indiana University newsroom set out on a journey: to create a longform, multimedia project that would highlight IU Bloomington students and the journeys they embark upon when becoming a Hoosier.

We knew it wasn’t going to be easy — not only are these types of projects time consuming, but with more than 40,000 students on campus, our topic was broad and provided unlimited possibilities.

But having spent this academic year creating content for the new Student Experience blog, we knew the experiences, stories and thoughts of our students run much deeper than what might be perceived at first glance. Some students face enough challenges trying to make their way to college. Then they are faced with the sometimes daunting transition from living at home to living on their own for the first time, trying to figure out who they are and what that means to the outside world.

Although we knew there were stories to tell, first we had to find them. We reached out to schools, departments and individual faculty and staff members for recommendations of students who have interesting stories to tell and who are making an impact on campus.

We were inundated with recommendations. In fact, pulling off a project this size in such a short time wasn’t the most challenging part — it was narrowing the list of students we would highlight. We eventually decided on 10 amazing, diverse students from multiple disciplines — Eric Gu, John McHugh, Eddie Mony, Evelyn Bai, Miguel Yáñez, Priya Vanka, Dana Khabbaz, Samantha Strong, Eric West Jr. and Elena Navarro.

When we first starting pitching the idea of this project to others, one question kept popping up: How are you going to connect all of the students? But as storytellers, we in the newsroom have the unique experience of meeting and talking to individuals on a daily basis. So while we see the uniqueness of individuals and their stories, we also have the vantage point of seeing that we as people tend to have more in common than not.

We knew, before even interviewing these students, that although they came to IU from all over the world and that their backgrounds were different, in the end they are all Hoosiers and they are all going through this journey together.

That belief was justified during our interviews with the students when, no matter their starting point, they all talked about the experiences IU has provided them and how far they’ve come as young adults navigating a new world. It was even more evident when we gathered the 10 students for a group photo. Although a few already knew each other, they all quickly became familiar with one another.

We as a newsroom could not be more proud of this project — “Tried and True” — and of the students we had the pleasure of getting to know over the past couple of months. In the end, we not only hope this project highlights the amazing achievements of some of IU’s outstanding undergraduate population, but we hope it serves as an example that we as human beings are more connected than we sometimes take time to realize — and that, no matter where you are from or where you are going, we are all taking this journey together.

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