Great Feature Stories from Prof. Tang’s Feature Writing Class

First-Person Story:

Sunday Football in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name: 孔若师)

It was finally the day I’d been waiting years for. The day that I had thought about since I started watching football. The day when one of my biggest wishes was about to come true. A day I thought would never come. Today was the day I was going to finally see the Pittsburgh Steelers play at their home stadium.

The car was packed with my family members on a warm and sunny day. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect Saturday morning. It was time for me to hit the road and make my journey to Pennsylvania.

I left my house at noon in hopes that I could make it to my hotel in Pittsburgh by 10 p.m. that night. I wanted to make sure I had enough time so when I got to my hotel I could go out to the bars and have a few drinks in the city. The destination was up on my GPS and I was on my way.

The first state I passed through was Indiana. You never would’ve thought we were just crossing one state if you were in that car. What was probably only three hours to get across the state felt like six. Being so anxious to get to Pittsburgh was making the drive feel like an eternity. I kept looking at my watch, thinking to myself, “I’m never going to make it.”

Ohio was the next state I had to conquer. The state of Ohio wouldn’t have been bad to go through if it wasn’t for all the tollways. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an IPass and had to stop at every toll I went through on my journey. It didn’t help that the tolls became more and more expensive as I got closer and close to Pittsburgh. My wallet got so thin I was wondering if I was going to be able to buy snacks at the stadium.

I knew my marathon car ride was soon coming to a close when I came across this gigantic bridge that was painted in solid yellow, just like the Steelers colors. As I crossed the bridge, the smile on my face grew wider and wider. The beautiful Pittsburg skyline at night made me feel like I was home.

I checked into my hotel at 10:30 p.m. and got everything to my room as quickly as possible. As soon as I had unpacked my car, I headed straight to the nearest bar. I met some great people there who were also huge Steeler fans. I had some of the best beer in the city. My weekend was off to a great start.

I hastily jumped out of bed at the sound of my alarm. The excitement was electric. After my shower, I quickly jumped into all of my Pittsburgh Steeler gear. First my hat, then my jersey, and finally my towel to wave at the game. I gathered everything I would need for the game and jumped into my car and drove to the stadium.

I pulled up to the massive stadium that I had seen so many times on television, thinking to myself, “I wish I was there.” At long last, I made that dream a reality.

Number Story:

Top Five Places to Go

By Nicholas Ebelhack (Chinese name: 艾懿轩)

From chicken to beef, there’s nothing that you can’t find even with Macomb’s limited dining options. Gastronomist and former Western Illinois University student Kyle Colson has been experienced in the various culinary endeavors around the campus.

“I’d like to think I’m a bit of a food snob,” said Colson, slightly portly but jolly. “I don’t think there is a single place I haven’t been, and I’m always the guy that people go to when they need to figure out what to eat, even though I’m not on the campus.”

Colson has a definitive top five list of his favorite places to go.

Number five is the one of Macomb’s fanciest, Magnolia’s.

“I don’t think anyone would not be excited to go to Magnolia’s, it’s top notch,” Colson said. “I think that the highest class food comes out this place but it is by no means my favorite. Sometimes I’m down for that kind of fancy food, but most of the time I just want to go somewhere where I don’t feel outclassed by everyone around me.”

At number four, Colson rectifies that point by listing El Rancherito.

“El Ranch is a cut above most places at Western, there’s a good menu variety and nobody has better drinks than El Ranch,” Colson said. “I just wish that the wait staff was a bit better, I feel like there are a lot of times where I’m just sitting there waiting for service even when the place isn’t that busy.

For his third pick, Colson decided to go with a hometown favorite that has moved to a new location, Chubby’s.

“Chubby’s is always a good place to go,” Colson said. “It’s gotten a little bit pricier since the move but it was for the best, the new location really does them justice. I highly suggest anything with their tater tots, which have the perfect crunchy outside every single time and are well seasoned.

At the number two slot, Colson was a bit conflicted. While he knew that his number one pick was the best, he could not get over this sleeper pick in the list.

“Number two would have to be Jackson Street Pub,” Colson said. “Honestly it isn’t too special, it’s dark and the food isn’t as good as at El Ranch or Chubby’s, but it’s got a real home-grown atmosphere. I’m always served quick; the waiter knows my name and I will always come back for more when I come back to town.”

Finally, Colson said there was no question that Chick’s on the Square would be the number one pick on his list.

“Chick’s is by far Macomb’s best eatery, everything there is done ten times better than what you would normally expect for the dish,” Colson said. “I’m not even a big fan of buffalo chicken, but they tone it down with a bit of butter and it’s the perfect combination to the ranch chicken and other dressing they put on their dishes.

Chicks’ according to Colson, is Macomb’s best, and most students would agree. The last five years it has been rated the “Best of Macomb” in The Western Courier’s annual survey.

“Don’t be a chicken, eat one at Chick’s,” Colson said with a giggle.

Final Story:

Ode to Higgins Hall

By Tabi Jozwick (Chinese name: 江桃雨)

July 1, 2017, also known as the day when my old home away from home where I lived for three years when I worked on my first bachelor degree at Western Illinois University came down. Yep, Higgins Hall went crashing down into a pile of rubble.

I first became acquainted with Higgins Hall in August 2001, just a few days before my 20th birthday during move in day. I don’t remember much about that move in day, but I remember my mom making a comment about living on the 18th floor during my first year living at Higgins. Living at the 18th floor during my first year made it very convenient for me to go to work at my primary on-campus job at the Higgins Dining Center, which was one floor up. I lived there during the 2001-2002 school year and the calendar years of 2003 and 2007 with staying at home in between my stays at Higgins.

Several memories of my time at Higgins include 9/11, where I first heard of the news from a girl on my floor, and watching the 2003 National League Championship series in the lounge on the first floor with the big TV. I was disappointed when the Chicago Cubs didn’t make it to the World Series when they were so close. Despite some of my memories occurred between 2001-2003, I barely had any photographs to remember those events. Many of my Higgins memories that were documented through my use of photography was during 2007, when I won a digital camera during the Higgins Gold Auction, which I eyeballed during the auction.

In case anyone was wondering about Higgins Gold, it was a point system where Higgins residents earned points from attending events and organization meetings. At the end of the semester, residents used their points to “bid” on items through the Higgins Gold auction. One semester, I dominated the auction and bid quite a bit on several items, even gave my sister Angela one of the Western hoodies that I won as a Christmas gift.

One of my favorite Higgins memories was when one of the new members of my sorority Sigma Lambda Sigma called me up on the phone and asked me if I was able to help her with a history test. I said ok and told my roommate that I am helping a sorority sister with a history test.

I went into my sorority sister’s car and ask her about the test, not realizing what was really going on. My sorority sister said that the history test was about the American colonial period, which I was thinking, sweet, I love American history. That was until I saw a few other of the new members went out of hiding and I realize what was going on.

It turned out that the “history test” was nothing more than a ruse to get me out to join them for the active steal. I did hint about it wanting to participate it because during my new member period, I was sick during my pledge class’s active steal. The other active that was “kidnapped” for the active steal got tricked when someone called her and ask her if she wanted to go to Walmart.

Rest of the night, watched Friends, some other show and E.R. before the steal was over. When I went back to my room, my roommate figured out that it was the active steal, not the history test tutoring that I thought I was going to do when I got the call.

Memories of these were the reason why people had emotional attachments to the places that they lived. When they moved out, it felt like they said goodbye to a friend. When that place came down, it was more like attending a friend’s funeral, knowing that one will not see their old home again.

Well, several weeks before Higgins came crashing down, Western Illinois University’s Facilities Management created a Facebook event where people shared their stories about their times at Higgins. Some shared their stories about how they met their spouses, others where they met their best friends. Of course, people posted photos, myself included.

Well, back to the implosion story.

The day before Higgins came down, there were two alumni events: the cookout by Thompson Hall and the social at Sports Corner. I didn’t go to the cookout, but I made an unplanned stop to Sports Corner after I went to Hy-Vee to pick up some cheese because my husband Marshall had a craving for cheese.

I saw a few people there that I knew: Janine, JB, Joe, David and his now wife Beth and I catch up with them about what was going on with me and vice versa. I asked Joe how Rocky was doing and he said that he was fine and if he would be at the implosion tomorrow, which Joe said no because he had too many things to do during the implosion.

I also believed that Rocky would not be able to come was because dogs’ hearing was very sensitive. My Shih Tzu Sammie barked at nearly every outside noise that he heard, the only exception was trains because I was able to tell him that specific noise was

On the day of the implosion itself, both Marshall and I got up early so that we won’t miss it. I wanted to see Higgins coming down because it was my old home away from home and had some emotional attachment to it. Marshall just wanted to see a building come down using dynamite.

I took lots of photos, including two very crappy selfies, even spent some time talking with Jared and Chris from the McDonough Voice. There were lots of news organizations there to cover Higgins’s implosion and to even photograph and record the moment when Higgins came down.

While Marshall and I waited for Higgins to come down, several people next to us asked one of the demolition crew members about how Higgins was going to come down. The demolition crew member said that Higgins would fall from the south end, work towards the west and east wings and finally with the north wing collapsing on top. The rubble would fill a 20-foot hole and be 60 feet tall, taking about 6 months to clean up.

Marshall and I watched the implosion itself from at the caution tape in front of Waggoner Hall. It was a good spot to see it, I even record a video on my phone and later posted it on YouTube, so I would have that memory. Several other people recorded Higgins coming down on their phones and posted their videos on YouTube as well. As of right now, my Higgins implosion video had about 163 views on YouTube. I even showed it to my brother a few days later during the family’s Fourth of July cookout.

The bad part of seeing the implosion up-close was the dust, which Marshall said that it reminded him of the dust when the World Trade Center came down during 9/11.

Some deer was near the implosion and ran when it got loud.

“It scared away the deer,” Marshall said.

Business Story:
The Study: New Coffee Shop in Town

By Tabitha Jozwick (Chinese name: 江桃雨)

Nearly a month ago, a new coffeeshop opened just off the square on West Jackson Street, in a long and skinny building with an industrial look inside. The patrons enjoyed their beverages and talked among themselves.

The owner, a young tattooed Vietnamese-American man from Seattle, is no stranger to local businesses, as his family also own the nail salon downtown. He thought it is a good idea to bring something unique to Macomb.

“We do not wish to disrupt any other businesses whether it be food or a local bar, but we do allow students another place to hang out and work on their assignments or to sit and relax and speak to one another,” said Jim Nguyen, the owner of The Study, located at 116 W. Jackson St.

Nguyen wanted The Study to be just like any coffeeshop, a nice, cozy place to be while enjoying their drinks and/or food, whatever it is the common coffeeshop fare or the specialized bubble teas that are more in common in Seattle than in Macomb.

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese beverage that have tapioca pearls of tea at the bottom of a fruit and milk based beverage. In a way, it combines the tastes of tea and a smoothie together into one drink. Other bubble teas are more of a fruit-flavored tea, not as a fruit and milk beverage mixed into one drink.

The Study is not the only Macomb coffeeshop that had bubble tea. The former coffeeshop Little Java House on West Jackson Street also served bubble tea until it closed several years ago.

Inside The Study, the menu is on laminated menu cards, like at a restaurant, not posted on the wall as it is like at other coffeeshops. The food is made fresh in the back, not on display as you might see at another coffeeshop, whatever it is Sullivan Taylor or Starbucks. Instead of couches to give the cozy feel of home, high industrial tables allowed the patrons to socialize and catch up on their studies.

“We are hoping that we would never have to convince anyone to come to The Study,” Nguyen said. “We are hoping that the flavoring and quality will spread by itself and when someone is thirsty they would think, ‘hey let’s go to The Study’.”

Nguyen hopes to make The Study a better coffeeshop for the Macomb community with its unique menu items ranging from coffee and tea drinks to the food items sold at The Study.

“Our menu is different, we are trying to bring and assorted mixture of taste with our different selections of tea drinks and high-quality espresso,” Nguyen said.

“The Study is still fairly new, and we are constantly trying to bring someone new and different all the time,” Nguyen said. “We will continue to care and accommodate the community best we can.”

Business Story:

Getting the Most Out of Your Employees

By Ryan Mumma (Chinese name: 牧马人)

Have you ever had a boss that was both the nicest person and also the meanest? Well believe it or not there is someone that is just that.

Bill is a supervisor of a major copier company called Ricoh that has one of its locations in Bolingbrook where Bill works. He has been working for Ricoh for over 10 years and ever since taking over at the supervisor position the companies numbers have sky rocketed. “I like it here, the people I work with are good people and my employees are easy to manage,” says Bill as he is walking the warehouse floor.

Picture this, Bill is a big six foot one guy that has arms as big as your face. When you look at his face it is clean and shaved and usually has stern look on it that will make you want to stop what you’re doing and start working.

He is the supervisor of the receiving end of the warehouse. He is in charge of making sure all the copiers come in the warehouse nice and clean with no damages. Bill then has his employees put the product they received in the right location for the other areas of the warehouse to process and do what they do.

Getting the most out of his employees was something Bill had to work for. “When I first took over I didn’t get much respect. I had to show my employees that I meant business. I first was nice and showed them I was someone they could come to, but if they messed up then they know it and I would go off.”

This is a form of good cop bad cop that Bill uses except he is the only cop. “If my employee messes up a lot they are on my hit list in a sense that I make them do the hard work for the week. If an employee is working hard and I see it I usually let them go home early on Friday with pay.”

By using this method of getting the most out of his employees Bill has provided the company with some of the best numbers they have ever seen. When the big bosses come to inspected the Bolingbrook building all the bosses look at how Bill runs his department, and most of the time take his way of doing things and make other departments do the same.

Ricoh is a top 10-printer company with competitors like Canon and HP. They distribute copiers all over the world. Bill is just one guy that runs the receiving department at the warehouse in Bolingbrook, but what Bill does at that warehouse has impacted one of the worlds top printer companies.

All it took was a stern look, A simple good cop bad cop method that has made his employees respect and work hard for Bill, and last but not least it took the drive to want to be the best in the business.

Business Story:

The Life of A Traveling Business Man

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name:孔若师)

It’s hard for someone to support a family of four by themselves today. Trying to make ends meet so that their wife can stay at home and watch the kids, and not have to work. Traveling around the United States on business trips where you’re away from your home and family for several days at a time. Coming back home and staying for just a few days till you have to leave out on another business trip. This is everything one man does to support the family he has and loves dearly.

Meet 47-year-old Mark Bayr, who is a Sales Manager for Graphic Packaging International. Mark travels at least once a week for business, and is roughly gone three to four days a week. “Traveling for me has become second nature,” said Mark with a humorous smile. “I basically live at the airport when I’m not home.”

Although Mark loves what he does, and enjoys supporting his loving wife and kids, he often gets upset he doesn’t get to see his family often. “I hate that I miss out on a lot of family time, so I always try to make it up to them when I’m home.”

Mark’s wife, Tina Bay, hasn’t worked in over 15 years. For Mark, he likes not having his wife work so she can stay at home with their 10-year-old daughter, Sheridan, and 13-year-old son Austin. “I like knowing that my kids at least have one of their parents always around, it makes me feel a little less guilty about traveling all the time,” Mark said with a sad look on his face as he folded his hands.

Even though Mark has missed a lot of birthdays and some holidays, he tries to make it up to his kids and wife the most when he’s home. “Usually when I come back from a business trip we will all go out to eat and then go do something fun for the kids,” said Bayr. Mark says that he often buys his kids presents when he’s out of town, but there’s a reasoning behind him always buying them gifts. “I wouldn’t say I try to “buy their love” but I definitely do feel bad that they don’t get to see their dad as much as other kids do,” said Bayr with a big smile. “So I like to let them know I’m always thinking about them when I get them a present to bring back home to them. I also spoil my wife a lot when I’m home too, and she knows it.”

It’s not easy to leave your family every week for three to four days at a time, but it’s what Mark does to support the family he loves. What makes Mark’s job easier for him is knowing he has the support from his family when he’s away, and knowing that they’re always happy. “I’m glad I have the job that can support my family the way I do,” said Bayr. “Eventually I want to take a step down from the business and not travel as much. I want to have more dad time with my children and husband time with my beautiful wife.”

Commemorative Story:

The Phone Call

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name:孔若师)

His cell phone started to ring in his pocket. Without hesitation, Kyle answers the phone call from his mother. This was an unusual phone call, not anything Kyle was prepared for. This would be the saddest phone call Kyle would receive in his young 21 years. Kyle’s world was shattered when he was told one of his closest friends had committed suicide.

Meet 24-year-old Kyle Lawson, who was born and raised in Monroe Center, Ill. It’s been almost three years since Kyle received the phone call that one of his best friends, Avery Lovgren, had committed suicide in the upstairs of his parent’s attic.

“I still remember that day like it was yesterday,” said Lawson while rubbing his hands with his head hung. “I sat on my kitchen floor with tears rolling down my face and just asking “why” over and over to myself.”

This was the first close to home death Kyle had experienced. “I would’ve never imagined the first person close to me to die was going to be one of my friends,” said Laswon with a serious and sad tone. “You almost expect your friends to live as long as you do.”

Kyle and Avery went to high school for four years together. They both played on the high school baseball and golf team. “We did a lot together,” said Lawson. “Even outside of school we hung out almost every weekend at either his or my house.”

To this day Kyle still goes to see Avery’s parents and Avery’s younger siblings. When asked what it’s like to still go over there today, Kyle looked away in sadness and said “it’s still tough to go them even though it was over two years ago. Every time I see his Dad or little brother I see Avery, so it never makes it easier going over there.”

Even after they were in high school, Kyle and Avery went to the same junior college at Kishwuakee in Dekalb, Ill. They both rented an apartment together close by their college. Kyle played on the baseball team at his time at Kishwuakee, and Avery worked at the local golf course by their school while he attended Kishwuakee as well.

“We spent every day together when we were at community college,” said Lawson with a bittersweet smile. “We would sometimes end up staying up all night long playing on the Xbox360 after we both got home for the day from class or work.”

Kyle tries to keep in touch with everyone he is still close to from high school. He tries to talk to his closest friends at least two or three times a week, making sure they’re doing good and always letting his friends know they can talk to him about anything.

“I let everyone that’s close to me know that I’m always available to talk to if they need to get something of their chest,” said Lawson. “I just wish I would have known what was bothering Avery the day he did that. I wish I would have been the one to talk him out of it that day.”

Explanatory Story:

Preparing for The Big Test

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name:孔若师)

Are you one of those students who struggles on tests? Do you find it hard to remember what you studied the next day after staying up half the night hitting the books? Are you tired of studying the same way for every test and it not paying off for you? Maybe this is a sign that you need to change your study habits and find one that best fits you.

Meet Erin Lee, a senior studying science here at WIU. Erin is someone who has tried many different tactics when it comes to studying for her tests and quizzes during her high school and college years. “I used to struggle with finding a successful way to study,” said Lee. “And it would really upset me when I was preparing for a big test I had later that week.” Today, Erin uses just two different ways to study for her upcoming test and quizzes.

The first technique Erin shared was rewriting all the notes you have to study. “I like to rewrite a page of my notes at a time and then study those notes till I 100 percent memorize everything on that single page, and then move on to rewrite the next set of notes and study those till I’m confident I know it,” said Erin as she twirled her brown hair around her fingertips. Even though this may seem like it would take a lot of time to study for your test, Erin finds this method to be the most useful if you really want to put the time and effort into studying. “It’s never failed me when studying for a test,” said Lee. It’s not the most fun way to study but I promise you it works.”

Erin’s next technique is simply using flashcards. “I know it seems like a such a girly way to study, because you never really see a guy using flashcards to study with, but maybe that’s why girls are smarter,” Erin said jokingly as she smiled widely and laughed. When asking her when she likes to use her flashcard technique, she responded, “I like to study my notecards before my next class while I’m waiting or when I’m watching TV and a commercial comes on. I will pick them up and start flipping through them to pass time.” This is a very effective technique when you have free time. You can just grab a few of the note cards at a time to study during a commercial break or in between your classes.

Studying for a test can be a pain, especially when the test is on something you’re not highly educated on. So, if you’re someone who struggles studying for upcoming test, try one of these two ways or maybe use them both like Erin. You don’t want to keep using that same old technique that keeps getting you C’s do you? You would be surprised on how much Erin’s studying techniques could really do for you.

Unfamiliar Visitor Story:

Coming to America

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name:孔若师)

Imagine growing up and spending your whole life in Malaysia, and then at the age of 19 leaving everyone there to go over 11 thousand miles away and start a whole new life. Doesn’t seem very easy to do, does it?

Meet the 22-year-old man, William Turkington, who has now been living in America for just over three years. Turkington is currently a senior at Western Illinois University, in which he is majoring in sports broadcasting and minoring in journalism. When asked what made him want to come to America, Turkington simply smiled and said, “I loved American sports growing up, because it is the biggest industry of sports in the world.” Growing up playing sports in his younger days, Turkington developed a love for one particular sport, basketball. “Growing up watching basketball made me want to come to America and be a sports broadcaster,” he said has he took a drink from his coffee mug.

In Malaysia, basketball isn’t a popular sport. “A lot of my friends liked to play basketball and watch American basketball, and I was the same” said Turkington. Going to school for sports broadcasting in Malaysia is not something popular at all. To achieve that goal, Turkington headed to the sports capital of the world.

When asked what it’s like to leave his mother behind in Malaysia, Turkington said, “it’s definitely hard being away from her while I’m here in America. I’ve only been back to Malaysia twice in my three years here, and one time was only for a week when I came back for my brother.” Fortunately, Turkington’s dad lives in Aurora, Illinois. This is where Turkington spends his time when school is not in session for the summer or on breaks like Thanksgiving and Christmas. “It’s nice to have one of my parents here in the states, oh and I guess my brother Randy,” Turkington said with a smile and laugh. Randy also attends Western Illinois University, and is currently a junior studying psychology and broadcasting.

With it being William’s last year at WIU, he is hoping he can quickly get a job as either a broadcaster for basketball, or become a basketball beat writer. “I am currently one of the two broadcasters for the men’s team here.” This is Turkington’s second year as the color commentator for the WIU men’s team.

It’s not easy to just up and leave your mother and all your friends you grew up with for 19 years, but it’s something this young man did to peruse a dream he’d had since first playing the sport at the age of five. William wants to be the first recongnized broadcaster to come from Malaysia, and also influence others over there who love sports like he does, to come here and have to same great experience he has had in his three years in America.

Profile Story:

Tyler Borgen

By Ross Gunther (Chinese name:孔若师)

When starting to talk about his parent’s long life of drug addiction, he stops midsentence and wipes away the tear falling down his cheek. You can immediately hear the pain in his voice when he speaks. It wasn’t an easily life at all for him growing up, but that’s what turned the young boy at the time into the man he is today.

It’s rare to find someone who lived the same life as Tyler Borgen, now 22 years of age, did grow up. As a middle schooler, waking up early and making his two siblings lunch, while also getting them up and ready for the school bus was just one of the many responsibilities Tyler filled for his drug addicted parents. Even when the parents did come home after not being there for a week, sometimes more, they were only there to gather things they could sell and buy more cocaine with.

“I never realized how messed up of a life I was living, because it seemed normal to me at the time”, Tyler said when asked if he felt different from the kids at school. He talks about how he would go see his dad, who was often arrested, at the jail that was 20 miles away from their home. “Having to see him through a tiny television, while talking on a phone, was hard for me to do, because I knew that meant he was going to be there for a while.”

“I never knew how much he went through on a daily basis in junior high. You never would have guessed, he always had a smile on his face,” said Clay Kruger, one of Tyler’s close friends since kindergarten. It wasn’t till high school that Tyler finally had opened up to Clay about his parent’s drug addiction and what he went through in middle school. “When Tyler first told me everything about his situation I right away thought “how did none of us know about this”. Knowing what he went through in junior high, I tried to picture myself in his shoes but I couldn’t. I wouldn’t have been capable of looking after myself, let alone my siblings.”

Living in such a small town like Stillman Valley, you would have thought that everyone knew about Tyler’s situation. When a rumor spreads in a small town almost everyone and their mother hears about it, but no one had heard of the life Tyler was living with his cocaine addicted parents.

“Tyler and I played junior tackle football together, and I would always wonder why he would walk home after practice. No one really knew where Tyler lived so we just figured he wasn’t far from the practice field, but really he had to walk nearly seven miles to get back home,” said Pat Cusak, who played junior tackle football with Tyler. “I wish I could go back and save him from all those times he walked home, and find a way to help him out with his situation at home.”

“He was such a good boy growing up, always pleasant to me when I would see him around,” Said Tracy Cusak, the mom of Pat Cusak. “I would have been more than willing to take Tyler and his sibling into my home and take care of them as if they were my own children.”

Finally, in 8th grade Tyler’s mom and dad decided it was time for both of them to check into rehab. This meant that Tyler and his two younger siblings had to go live with their grandparents, which is a small town in Iowa. “I hated how I had to leave my friends in Stillman Valley, but I knew I had no other option. I only hoped that when both my parents came out of rehab they would actually stay clean, and that it wasn’t all for nothing.”

At last, the time had come where Tyler’s mom and dad were going to be released from the rehab center they stayed at. It had been a whole summer that Tyler had not seen his mom or dad. It was now he would be able to see if his mom and dad had actually bettered themselves in rehab, or if they will go right back to their old drug addiction ways. “I remember thinking on the car ride back home to see my parents “if this didn’t work I’m going to end up back in Iowa for the rest of my life,” said Tyler, with a worried voice.

Thankfully all that time Tyler’s parents spent in rehab had paid off. It may have took the two parents a while to finally get help, but it couldn’t have come at a better time, a time where Tyler was really starting to need them.

Still today, both the mom and dad of Tyler are sober and better than ever, and are coming up on nine years sober. Tyler’s mom and dad even go to church a few miles away from their home every Sunday morning since rehab. When being around the whole family now today, you would see nothing but smiles from the whole family. The way they are today one might say they fit the picture of “the perfect family”.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I did to my children. I can’t explain how grateful I am to still have my kids after everything I did to them,” said Boyd Borgen, the now better father of Tyler Borgen. “I’m beyond lucky to have Tyler as my son, he was always the real man of the house, not me.”



Feature stories above are selected from student work for my BC&J330 (Magazine and Newspaper Feature Writing) class in the this past fall semester.

The stories are published here with minor edits.

In BC&J330, Students are expected to report and write the following feature stories:

Business feature story

Commemorative feature story

Explanatory feature story

First person feature story

Historical feature story

Hobbyist feature story

How-to feature story

Number feature story

Odd-occupation feature story

Overview feature story

Participatory feature story

Profile feature story

Unfamiliar visitor feature story

Final paper expanded from one of the stories above


Not all journalism stories must adhere to the famed inverted pyramid theory—which states that a news story must begin with its most important elements followed by less essential aspects. An exception to this rule is feature writing in newspapers and magazines. Feature writing is, basically, a newspaper or magazine article that takes an original angle on a subject and often uses descriptive writing and fiction techniques to tell the story in an original way. That doesn’t mean it isn’t journalism—a feature story must still follow all the rules of accuracy and truthfulness that apply to a news story. But a feature story is different in that the writer can be more creative and less formulaic in crafting his or her article.

While this class is primarily designed as a writing workshop, there will also be regular reading assignments from the text. I’d like to leave you with some advice from Janet Fullwood, former travel editor of the Sacramento Bee: “Read, read, read. Write, write, write—on any topic. Most people have to get a lot of mediocre articles under their belt before they can start paying attention to theme, technique and style.”


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