On journalism...

By Tracy Swartz
Convicted murderer Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco had three minutes until a lethal injection would permeate his veins. I looked on, determined to squash a sinking, nervous feeling coming from deep within. Itís not every day a 20-year-old college journalist witnesses the death penalty.

I fixated my eyes on the hefty inmate as his time ticked away. I didnít flinch when he winked to his priest. I listened closely as he uttered his last words in a thick Spanish accent. Within a few short seconds his life was over.

At that moment I knew I had chosen the right career path. As a journalist I was determined to convey the life-altering scene to readers.

Few young students have seen what I have seen. Last year, I watched a University of Florida professor scrape bug splats off a Greyhound bus in an attempt to identify that gunk on your car. In July, I investigated a brutal murder and tracked down the victimís and suspectís family members, sometimes beating the police. I have reported on crime scenes, sentencing hearings, city council meetings and memorial services.

Every person I meet Ė from the accident victim to the professor to the murder suspect Ė strengthens my respect for journalism. I see this profession as an opportunity to accurately inform readers while bringing them to the action.

I also know how to break down complex issues for readers. In September, I sifted through 3 inches of legal paperwork and environmental data to report on a potential lawsuit against UF. During my Duluth internship, the courts reporter was unable to cover the fourth day of a murder trial. I had been reading his coverage of the proceedings and was able to take over. Later that month, I wrote a lengthy profile on a murder suspect who refused to be interviewed.

I can offer any newspaper team diverse experience and determination.

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