The West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer
I’m currently a staff writer at The West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer, covering everything from the arts beat to commission meetings in West Orange County.
Ashton Allen was born at 23 weeks, the youngest surviving baby at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. He carries on the legacy of his brother, Brandon, who died before the brothers could meet outside the womb.
A new movie theater is opening in the Hamlin community. I talked to Cinepolis USA to see what residents could expect when the theater open.
The largest mass shooting in recent U.S. history occurred in an Orlando nightclub, less than 30 minutes from our coverage area. Less than 20 hours before our paper went to press, I found out one of the victims was an Ocoee resident. I reached the family and interviewed them in hopes of writing a story to honor his memory. It was one of the most challenging stories I’ve written.
Ever tried to break a Guinness World Record? Horizon West resident Ben Hess is — with his collection of gift cards.
I wrote this story in tribute of a beloved elementary school P.E. coach who died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was well-loved during his 18-year tenure at the school.
Pull out the tissues. This woman endured a life-threatening surgery to save her husband’s life. It was the closest I’ve ever come to crying in an interview.
For the right buyer, this homeowner is selling 17.51 acres of land.
This artist dances as she paints the windows in downtown Winter Garden.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
I spent summer 2015 interning at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, a daily newspaper in Sarasota, Fla.
On Memorial Day, I covered a parade that lined downtown Sarasota’s Main Street. The parade had a strong turnout. While I was there, I met two couples who had participated in the parade for years. One couple met on Memorial Day weekend 20 years ago, and this year they planned to get married a few days after the parade. The story was featured as the centerpiece of the local section.
I found people in Sarasota who using drones for a photography business. Then, I researched law regarding commercial use of drones–which is more complicated than most people realize. The article was one of the most-read stories on heraldtribune.com the day it was published.
I spent time with a group of Latinas at their weekly self-empowerment meeting. They talked about how the group supported them in their business ventures as well as in life.
I covered a precision machining program at a technical college in Sarasota. This program has had a 100 percent success rate when finding their students jobs.
I talked to several entrepreneurs who benefited from Sarasota’s Community Entrepreneur Opportunity program. The program is designed to help North Sarasota residents who are interested in starting their own business.
The number of visitors at Sarasota’s Celery Fields grew during 2015 bird migration season, and the number is expected to keep growing when the Sarasota Audubon Nature Center opens in October.
Unravel is the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s new web-based platform, which seeks to boil news down in a catchy, fun-to-read way.
I did a Q&A with new business owners in downtown Sarasota.
I did a round-up on commercial drones and FAA regulations for Unravel readers.
Tampa Bay Times:
During the summer in 2014, I spent time in the Midtown area of St. Petersburg. I found out a business incubator was being planned along 22nd St. S. I talked to planners and local entrepreneurs who would benefit from an incubator. The story was ultimately picked up the Tampa Bay Times:
The Crow’s Nest:
The Crow’s Nest is the student-run newspaper at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. I was hired in May 2013 as the assistant news editor, and by May 2014, I was promoted to editor in chief.
During my time as editor in chief, I requested that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education rate the speech codes at USF St. Petersburg. The FIRE is a nationally-known organization that analyzes and rates speech codes at universities across America, in order to protect the freedom of speech of students, faculty and staff at these institutions.
The FIRE rated USF St. Petersburg and assigned a red-light to the university–meaning that one or more codes severely inhibit freedom of speech. I reported on the rating in this article:
Following this article, a group at the university organized a campus discussion around this topic. Three months later, the USF system revised some of the red-light speech codes. The campus’s codes still receive a red light from the FIRE, but there is now only one red-light code that remains. My article is here:
During the spring 2015 semester, USF St. Petersburg’s website was hacked briefly by the “Indonesian Cyber Freedom Hackers.” While the website was likely not targeted by the group, the hack came at a time when hacks of websites and social media accounts were making national headlines on a regular basis. Here is my article:
I continued to follow up with university administrators regarding the hack, and although they were unable to say what happened, they were willing to speak with me. The follow up article is here:
After threatening a couple of students on the street with a knife, a man entered Residence Hall One, the largest residence hall at USF St. Petersburg. As a resident in that hall, I could not leave my room. Ultimately, the man was arrested by St. Petersburg police. The next morning, I went to the police office and got the report on what happened.
I was on campus when I overheard the dean of the college of arts and sciences talking about his study-abroad trip to Vietnam. He took a senior citizen auditor (in Florida, anyone 60 or older can audit classes at a public university for free). This auditor fought in the Vietnam war, and during his study abroad trip, he returned to places he bombed in the war.
I had the opportunity to interview Jared Fogle, better known as Jared the Subway guy.
Neighborhood News Bureau:
I took a class during the summer of 2014 called Neighborhood News Bureau. The class functioned as a newsroom, covering the Midtown area of St. Petersburg. During the class, I wrote a story that appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. In addition, I had the opportunity to shadow a Tampa Bay Times reporter and ride along with a St. Petersburg police officer in District 1, an area that includes Midtown.
I shadowed Kameel Stanley, the City Hall reporter at the Tampa Bay Times. She covered a St. Petersburg City Council meeting that lasted 11 hours. My story reflects her process throughout the meeting. She tweeted updates constantly during the day. I compiled her City Hall-related Tweets using a program called Storify. The Storify, along with my story about the day, is here:
I shadowed Gina Hartzig, a police officer in the St. Petersburg force. My story focused on Hartzig’s relationships with her co-workers. The officers grew close and enjoy lots of laughs, despite the dangers of their job. Here is my story: