A gender non-conforming writer and performance artist addresses societal gender constructs

By Nandini Parikh

There is an uprising anti-transgender violence that is happening in society because gender is a construct, according to a gender non-conforming writer and performance artist.

“You have the power to write your own reality,” Alok Vaid-Menon said.

Gender non-conforming writer and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon addressed society’s LGBTQ stigma to seek an inclusive world on UW-Eau Claire’s “Racing Toward Justice” series sponsored by its Center for Racial and Restorative Justice on Oct. 20. They explained that toxic masculinity prevents men from expressing their vulnerability because they’re misguided by societal gender constructs. © 2020 Nandini Parikh

Vaid-Menon spoke on Oct. 20 on the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s “Racing Toward Justice” series which raises awareness for racial and social injustices as part of UW-Eau Claire’s Center for Racial and Restorative Justice program.

Vaid-Menon seeks a world in which LGBTQ communities are not dismissed as unreal for differing from society’s gender stereotypes, they said.

They have first-handedly experienced this disproval from society by social media hate comments judging them for their self-expression through their body hair, as they said on their website note “I am trying very hard.”

The note describes the misjudgment they’ve encountered for wearing “feminine clothing” on their “masculine body,” they said.

Vaid-Menon says in their writing that they’re trying to continue their individualism by teaching society to break the dehumanizing gender constructs that cause LBGTQ communities to internalize their pride.

Anti-transgender violence isn’t existent because LBGTQ communities lack qualities; they’re attacked because they’re living (or celebrating their self-expression), they said. They said that LGTBQ objectors are bothered that transgender individuals escaped the confinements society has created regarding what’s considered feminine or masculine to have freedom.

Society has taught men to hide their feelings because openly expressing them is deemed unmanly as a social construct, they said.

Vaid-Menon explained that transgender individuals should prioritize their well-being over focusing on gender norms to grow into their individualities. This mindset shift builds happiness that is essential to living, they said. They mentioned they live their life to the fullest to ensure that they’ve always lived glamorously because the future is unpredictable.

They shared several tips to become an LGBTQ-friendly activist for individuals who are unaware of LGBTQ communities’ backgrounds to create a more inclusive world:

  • Be accepting of unknowing, but also be accepting of reform.
  • Be active in reaching out to others for help.
  • Be surrounded with diverse people to learn from their differences.

Vaid-Menon shared a historical anecdote of individuals who were prejudiced for their cultural practices to explain racial gender inequalities. Indian individuals were mistreated for their physical appearances by the gender norms white supremacists created, they said. They said that white individuals misidentified Indian men as women for the long hair under their turbans and misidentified Indian women as men for their body hair.

This is a false representation of reality that white individuals projected onto those diverse groups, they said. They described that escaping that projection is shaping own realities that encompass individuality, like living life to the fullest.

They relate to this history because it gives them comfort to see others have previously gone through similar injustices within their race. It also channeled into their poetry work because it’s given them “self-authorship” over their identity, Vaid-Menon said.

“I’m not single. I’m in an intimacy with history,” they said.

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Racing Toward Justice with Trans Indian-American Alok Vaid-Menon

By Timika Miner

A gender-nonconforming writer and performance artist joined UWEC’s Racing Toward Justice series on Tuesday evening to explore themes of gender, race, trauma, and belonging in an oppressive society.

“I want to dedicate this event tonight to the creation of vocabulary, infrastructure, empathy, imagination and care to create a world where there’s no longer violence for trans and gender non-conforming people,” said Alok Vaid-Menon. They emphasized that if trans and gender non-conforming people fail to have power in this society, they won’t have a voice to articulate violation and resistance. Vaid-Menon believes that violation and resistance is important to fully exist.

Alok Vaid-Menon spoke as part of the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire’s Racing Toward Justice series. Vaid-Menon is a non-conforming writer and performance artist. They draw from their personal experiences of being transgender and Indian-American to explain a complicated reality. According to their website Vaid-Menon is also a published author and “honored as one of NBC’s Pride 50 and Out Magazine’s OUT 100.” To learn more about Alok Vaid-Menon, you can visit his website at https://www.alokvmenon.com/. Vaid-Menon uses poetry, prose, and comedy to express their message.

“2020 has been the most deadly year on record for anti-trans violence,” said Vaid-Menon. “As of this moment there has been 33 reported murders of trans people in the united states. This is higher than the previous record at 31 in 2017.”

Vaid-Menon talking about the violence against trans people in 2020.

Vaid-Menon shared how they hope people will leave the forum thinking critically about how gender and trans-justice is an extension of racial justice. Discrimination against trans and gender non-conforming people takes many facets. It happens through the denial of public accommodation like bathrooms, the denial of suitable healthcare and treatment. Vaid-Menon believes that all these denials come from a logics and calculations. History has created the basis of rights people believe we have today.

“Trans people are attacked not because we lack but because we live. What I mean by that is, we actually show what it means to be alive, not what it means to just merely exist,” Vaid-Menon said. “And the difference between being alive and existing is the difference between prioritizing your own joy, your own pleasure, your own becoming, your own personality, your own spirit, over the stereotypes that you should be.”

Vaid-Menon explained that a lot of people attack or shame trans and non-gender conforming people simply because they are living their lives to the absolute fullest. They believe that others are taught to fear the things that have the most potential to make them happy. Trans and non-binary people demystify gender and sex, provoking change in the structure of reality. What people have learned about the world is not universal or set-in-stone, and being different can change a narrative. Vaid-Menon emphasized that “you have the power to write your own reality.”

“They say that it’s human nature for there to be two genders and sexes and that’s what it’s always been but go outside, look at the sun, watch it move. Go outside, watch the wind move, watch the water move. Nothing about nature is fixed,” Vaid-Menon said.

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Racing Toward Justice: In Conversation with Alok Vaid-Menon

By Michael Koehler

Blending together different mediums to create a unique voice to expose and challenge the way society operates, and the gender views that have been implemented into many people for hundreds of years is how this activist uses their voice to help generate change.

“Nothing is unprecedented when you look at history.” Alok Vaid-Menon said. This was a common theme throughout Vaid-Menon’s presentation. Vaid-Menon is a non-gender conforming artist, who sheds light on the history for why gender norms exist and challenges the way the world views gender.

Vaid-Menon spoke virtually to people in attendance at the 2nd event of the Racing Toward Justice series put on by the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Vaid-Menon spoke to help illustrate some historical findings they have learned, and took that knowledge to the present in hopes of challenging the minds of other people, so they too can learn from the history of its ancestors, and make the world notice other people’s perspectives.

In this forum, Vaid-Menon started by asking the audience to join him in a moment of silence for all affected by anti-trans non-gender conforming violence. Then Vaid-Menon challenges the audience to take advantage of newly presented information that they may hear throughout the presentation. Vaid-Menon started by outlining some current equality rights against trans non-gender conforming people. Twenty-four states have restrictions placed against these people in ways like denying proper healthcare, denying participation in athletics, and denying bathroom use.

“Trans justice fundamentally challenges the white gender binary” Vaid-Menon said. This was used during a section of their presentation that broke down stereotypical masculinity and femininity. Vaid-Menon went on to say that these stereotypes affect everyone, and they express this through the view that men are meant for their mind, while women are meant for their body. This was expressed through western gender ideals, but Vaid-Menon argues that the structure of these ideals is harmful for everyone.

“Trans and non-gender conforming people show living, not existing,” said Vaid-Menon. “They show Joy over the stereotypes of what they should be.” This idea was stated in relation to separation from gender normality. The idea of men wearing a dress and having long hair has been around for centuries and is a big part to why indigenous people were viewed as not human. Vaid-Menon connects the idea of racial discrimination with gender discrimination often throughout the presentation.

“Racial control taught us to dress up in uniform to accommodate society’s expectations, when in reality, trans is so powerful that it had to be extinguished, because It challenges all of reality” Vaid-Menon said. “What you’ve been told is not universal, there are millions of ways to view the world.” Vaid-Menon makes a point to express the relation between race and gender throughout the presentation. Vaid-Menon believes that gender only has meaning because of race, this is because both were used in the same way to oppress creativity and the idea of being unique through fake science that was used as a way to promote white supremacy.

Vaid-Menon makes a point about how white people would portray other races as closer to animals then human, and that white people believed that they were the furthest evolved out of all races. This led to the annihilation of any other people’s rights and set the groundwork that these people have had to dismantle ever since.

I asked the question “To what extent has poetry helped you express yourself and what made you decide to use poetry as one of your preferred platforms?”

“You get to decide what the words mean, and it’s all about self-creation,” Vaid-Menon said. “Live a poetic life, speak and live like you will die tomorrow.” Vaid-Menon talks about remembering the feeling that poetry provides, not the words. In many ways’ poetry is reality based, not delusional. Poetry notices everything, and it’s about bearing witness to everything around you.  

Vaid-Menon uses their vast knowledge of history to express the ideals they laid out in this presentation. Opening people’s minds is the goal they strive for, but for enough people to honestly make the change that Vaid-Menon reaches for, they believe it will take the unity and openness of all.

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Breaking the Binary

By Rosa Gómez

Alok Vaid-Menon speaks with Dorothy Chan during the question and answer portion of an online forum with the UW-Eau Claire community for the “Racing Towards Justice” series, sponsored by the Center for Restorative Justice.  © 2020 Rosa Gómez

Activist and artist, uses their platform to challenge western gender and heteronormative stereotypes, in order to allow society to break its bounds to the gender binary system and find joy and possibility within ones self.

“We know what it means to be alive, not just exist,” Alok Vaid-Menon said. “We are part of the world we are trying to manifest.”

Vaid-Menon spoke to students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as a part of the “Racing Toward Justice” series, sponsored by the Center for Racial and Restorative Justice. The Center was created to give students a place to learn, advocate and prepare them for a life centered around equity within society. 

On Oct. 20, the series continued with “In Conversation with Alok Vaid-Menon.” Vaid-Menon is a gender non-conforming performace artist who examines concepts of race and gender beyond an intersectional perspective. 

Vaid-Menon told the audience to challenge themselves to view this social movement as not intersectional because rather than it being an intersection of race and gender, the two cannot actually exist without the other.

“Gender is fundamentally a racial construct,” Vaid-Menon said. “Gender and sex only have a meaning because of racism.”

They explain that because of this binary system, it belittles the concept of femininity and masculinity to machinery; that people only exist as men and women to fill a role in society.

Vaid-Menon says that, “femininity and masculinity became a way to erase people’s creativity.” 

They explain that breaking through this binary system, or simply challenging society’s pre-disposed roles for people, gives them an opportunity to explore life as an artist. They encourage existing in this life as a poet because the author has control and has the ability to create whatever their imagination may present.

“The greatest poem I am ever authoring in my life, is my existence.” 

They said that to live a poetic life is to question every action and to truly interrogate each moment in life to see if it brings genuine happiness or if it is part of a routine brought by social constraints. 

“The entire world is your art gallery and your stage, and every conversation is your microphone and to navigate the world with that kind of artistry means you’re going to be punished because this western, secular world wants to discipline art,” Vaid-Menon said . “What stands the test of time is poetry.” 

They explain that poets recognize that what people are going to remember is how they make people feel, not their specific words. These feelings are what encourages people to live an individualized life that brings them joy.  

Vaid-Menon said, “The greatest joy in the world comes from making something with your own hands that you don’t recognize with your own eyes. It’s beautiful to be a vessel for something.” 

Vaid-Menon said they believe the only connection the West has with being a vessel, is in relation to submission. They explain that in order to break through the binary of either good or bad that comes with submission, vulnerability is key. 

They explore how vulnerability comes with honesty and a true, raw and joyful relationship with oneself. 

“I’m going to write my own damn story,” said Vaid-Menon. “It’s a vulnerable thing to say I’m going to write my own damn story in a world that has already scripted you into a character.”

They shared how living a creative life, by writing one’s own story, opens the door up to a community of people who have lived the same experience. It creates a community of love, friendship, and family. 

Vaid-Menon called on the audience to interrupt during conversions that deprecate the lives of transgender and gender non-comforming individuals. They said that advocacy for these people is an amplification of racial justice and key in creating a society that is separated from the binds of a Western society.

The next event in the “Racing Toward Justice” series will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 and features Kim TallBear, a Native American author, professor and activist. 

https://www.alokvmenon.com/about

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Hella Buchheim- Raised in the Shadow of the Holocaust

By Samantha Geiger

The horror, the pain and the stories that come from, The Holocaust.

Photographer and daughter of parents who survived the Holocaust, Hella Buccheim digs deep into her parent’s painful past.

Hella Buchheim spoke as part of UWEC-Barron series, Thursdays at the U via Blue Jeans, on October 15th saying that her parents stories were an everyday part of her life as a child.

Hella Buchheim, a photographer and personal Historian, speaks at Thursdays at the U through the app Blue Jeans for the Eau Claire Campus. ©2020 Samantha Geiger.

“Arbeit Macht Frei and for those who don’t speak German, it means working makes you free, which is unfortunate because most didn’t make it to freedom,” Buchheim said.

Her father left Germany and fled to South America at 18-years-old, settling down in Bolivia where he had to learn to speak the native languages of Quechua and Aymara. He survived, Buccheim said.

Lore Buccheim, Hella Buchheims’ mother, was just a little girl when things started. She was 8 years old when Hitler stole her childhood away from her, Buchheim said.

Hella Buccheim read her mothers’ journal of the day-to-day experiences of what she lived through.

The men and women were separated in the train cars. Families were torn apart. The train cars were stuffed as full as humanly possible, no water, no food, for bathroom. Most of the time men and women would use the bathroom in the corner of the train car, Buchheim said.

“’We had selected days and times where we got to go up top and get fresh air, then we had to return to the horrific smell of human feces,’” Buccheim said.

Her mother was placed in the Riga, Latvia working camp as well as Stutthof, East Germany. During that time, her mother at the age of 15 experienced 24,000 Latvian Jews being murdered in Riga.

Her mother along with the rest of the working camp was transported to the Stutthof working camp at the age of 15.

Then at the age 17, after being transported to Stutthof, her mother experienced 50,000 Jews being murdered, Buchheim said.

The housing situations at Stutthof were described by Buccheim as awful. Her mother went to work in rags, wore rags on her feet because they didn’t have shoes, clothes, or even underwear. Her mother slept in three story high bunks, with no pillows or blankets.

In 1945, her mother was 19 years old, finally being liberated by the Russians.

Buchheim said her mother was free and alone. She had no idea if her family was still alive or not.

When Buchheim was growing up, she said “I felt like I had been there myself from the stories my mother told me.”

If Buchheim had misbehaved in some way her mother would say that she didn’t have parents to teach her how to be a parent.

It wasn’t medically diagnosed, but was suspected by Buchheim that her mother had experienced PTSD from the Holocaust, yet her mother was always giving back to the community, nonprofits, neighbors, etc. Buchheim said.

Buchheim said that their house was always open for people to stay there, whether it was long periods of time or short. Her mother would house travelers, different survivors from other tragedies.

While her childhood and family were taken away from her. Her mother always gave back.

Years later, Buchheim and her mother went to go visit the Holocaust Museum, spent the entire day there. Most workers who work at the museum are survivors themselves. While going through the museum, her mother and a worker struke up a conversation. Learning that they both were survivors and went to the same camps.

Turns out her mother and the worker were good friends during the Holocaust, they lost contact with each other after getting separated. Nearly 50 years later they met again, to celebrate the fact that they both survived.

*Information was found in the speakers powerpoint, link is above*

Tweets: “Hella Buchheim- Raised in the shadow of the Holocaust, begins with photography from the Holocaust museum and her mother’s survival story”

“Hella Buchheim- read the famous sign ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ which means working makes you free, Buchheim said. Which is unfortunate because most didn’t make it to freedom, she said.”

“Hella Buchheim- Timeline of the ages Buchheims’ mother was at different times of the war” “’We had to return to the horrific smell of human feces,’ Lore Buchheim said. The above quote was written in her journal”

“Events happening, corresponding to the previous picture of Buchheims’ mothers ages”

“Hella Buchheim and her mother, Lore Buchheim, took a trip to the Holocaust Museum, where Lore Buchheim met with a friend she met, lost contact with, and re-met at the museum. Both went to the same camps, Riga and Stutthof. Almost 50 years later.”

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Job Shadow: Theresa Gómez, Public Health Manager

By Rosa Gómez

“Great childhoods begin at home,” said Theresa Gómez when she was describing the significance of the pinwheel in her profession. It symbolizes the home visiting model her program uses. Gómez is the Public Health Manager of Dakota County in Minnesota and works as a macro-practitioner in the social work field. She heads the program “Metro Alliance for Healthy Families,” an evidence-based home visiting program for new parents. This program works to improve parent-child relationships, and their work has been proven to prevent child abuse and neglect. Her program is in collaboration with nine counties and serves up to 500 families. Gómez has been affiliated with this program for almost twenty years.

Gómez obtained both a Bachelor of the Arts and Masters degree in Social Work. In addition, she is licensed as a professional social worker in the state of Minnesota. Gómez explained that she always knew that she wanted to go into a “helping profession.” She began as a volunteer as a lay missionary in Houston, Texas for two years and worked with professionals in the education and social service field. From there, she was able to grow in experience that helped start her official journey into the profession of social work. 

A specific aspect that guided Gómez into this line of work is the preventative nature and ability to make a true difference in the lives of vulnerable families. This is something she finds most rewarding about her profession. Along with prevention, she also finds joy in working with other professionals who expand her worldview everyday. 

Having a willingness to gain a greater worldview is similar to advice she would have given her younger self when entering into this profession: there is always more to learn. A guiding principle in the Social Work Code of Ethics is social justice; there are always ways to further educate ourselves about how to best serve the needs of a diverse group of people. 

Gómez shared that being guided by this social justice platform continuously shapes her point of view. This, combined with her faith, has led her to view her career as her vocation. Gómez attested that this line of work can be emotionally draining due to the amount of disheartening statistics and information they come across, her faith is what helps her through it.

This mentally draining facet in conjunction with the politics that come with her position pose as some of the challenges Gómez faces. Working in an administrative position on such a large scale has allowed her to work alongside many legislators on a national scale. In addition to creating policy, Gómez is also responsible for program funding. She admits that attaining funding can be tricky as they are not a legally mandated program. Because of this, her program goes through a rigorous accreditation process in order to maintain high standards of accountability.

Despite the unpredictability of her work, Gómez still maintains that her career in social work is her dream job. She advises those looking into a similar profession to have a passion for helping others and an eagerness to learn each and every day.

Theresa Gómez works on the Covid-19 hotline as a part of her extra duties as a public health manager during the pandemic. © 2020 Rosa Gómez
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Job shadow: Andee Erickson, news reporter on Duluth News Tribune

Andee Erickson, a current breaking news and Higher Education reporter for the Duluth News Tribune, sits on the ground while reporting on her very first stories at the tribune.

By Evelyn Nelson

“One of the best things about being an introverted and sometimes shy, journalist with reticent curiosity and a vested interest in the lives of others is being forced to speak up and reach to learn the ways of the world. Then share the story,” publication writer, Andee Erickson, wrote for the Pine Journal of Carlton County in 2018.

Andee Erickson, a current breaking news and Higher Education reporter for the Duluth News Tribune, continues to uphold these values towards the field of journalism: writing words and telling stories.

Erickson graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2018, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in both Journalism and Geography.

“I think journalism is a discipline that really requires another minor or major,” Erickson said when interviewed about her profession. “In journalism, you are learning how to do something. You’re not learning something. Being able to bring some other discipline into (the field) I think is very good.”

Even in the beginnings of her university career, her passion towards journalism took off within publications both on and off campus. Her list of previous organizations and positions include; staff writer and editor on the Spectator newspaper, contributor for the Leader Telegram and multiple summer internships, from Manti, Utah to Duluth, Minnesota — where she resides now as a reporter.

In 2016, Erickson was awarded as the 19th Ann Devroy Fellow through the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. This fellowship is a stepping stone for up and coming journalists, who get to experience guided mentorship at the Washington Post and release content alongside leaders of the publication.

“When we think of the New York Times or the Washington Post, we just think they are so driven,“ Erickson said. “But, (the reporters) bring a lot of humanity to the job and they want to treat people with respect. I learned a lot from that and how to treat people as a journalist. The idea there was to be a sponge, just absorb everything that it can be.”

After graduation, she began reporting at the Pine Journal — a weekly publication within the Cloquet area of Carlton County, Minnesota. There, she published one of her most formative stories to date: “When climate change hits home.”

This story provided Erickson with both the improved understanding of triangulation within publication writing, in addition to sharing the pressing needs and concerns of the community she served. Within a subject that was not often addressed at the time, climate change.

“Locally we aren’t talking about climate change as much as we should,” Erickson said. “I was frustrated that we are not talking about this thing and how it has impacting us locally. When I’ve been able to spend more time on building a relationship with sources, the story is very strongly triangulated.”

Now, as a current reporter at the Duluth News Tribune, her days revolve around covering breaking news content in the city and continuing her passion of sharing stories of important community members.

For Erickson’s most recent content, visit her staff profile at the Duluth News Tribune website.

 

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Job Shadow: Claudine Galloway, Corporate Communications Manager

By Nandini Parikh

Humans cause food waste, global starvation and greenhouse pollutants that deteriorate agricultural processes. Claudine Galloway, a corporate communications manager at General Mills, improves those areas through philanthropy.

Claudine Galloway, a corporate communicate manager at General Mills, increases awareness regarding food security and regenerative agriculture processes to support hometown and global communities. © 2020 Sydney Galloway.

Galloway is an alum from the University of North Dakota (UND) with bachelor’s degrees in communications with a public relations (PR) emphasis, Spanish and international studies.

She became interested in communications by participating in her college’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) program and UND Alumni Association which promotes campus events.

Galloway interned/worked with agencies in healthcare, pet, technology, and global airline fields for 18 years before entering the corporate world at General Mills.

Her past PR experiences enhance her skills on her current corporate side because General Mills is a client of PR agencies. Galloway described that this makes her exceptional in providing the feedback PR agencies require to maintain mutually beneficial work.

Her PR skills in media relations, project management, and account management freshly transferred to General Mills, she said.

The company implemented her influencer campaign idea, where high-profile bloggers promote General Mills’ good work to increase pride in audiences for purchasing items from a charitable company.

General Mills encompasses much more than manufacturing America’s favorite cereals; it also secures food stability for consumers worldwide — who are otherwise deprived from food resources — by introducing environmentally effective ways to do this.

The company funded $1 million in 2017 to Feeding America, a food bank company, that developed the MealConnect app that Galloway details on General Mills’ blog site. The app’s goal is connecting donators like grocery stores/restaurants with surplus food to local food programs which then distribute it to shelters.

General Mills also works across the globe. It funded FareShare (another food bank company in the United Kingdom) for them to achieve a similar system.

Galloway noted that these partnerships put nutritious food on plates to grow communities because her stories highlight General Mills’ charitable work.

She explained that it promotes General Mills’ employee and costumer/consumer loyalty because it makes them delighted for changing impoverished lives and support General Mills over competitors.

Galloway’s enthusiasm for philanthropy makes this possible. “That passion really shines through in the work that I do, and people can really feel it in the stories that I tell,” she said.

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Job Shadow: Zach Brunner, FlurrySports

By Michael Koehler

Zach Brunner is a fantasy football and sports betting writer who created the platform of FlurrySports. Brunner created this website because he was upset with how mainstream sports media was operating, and he wanted to share his passion and techniques for analyzing sports. He’s confident in the fact that he writes what he believes and thinks that plays a large part in the success that he has seen.  

Zach Brunner along with two other writers from FlurrySports © 2020 FlurrySports

Originally from Elk Mound Wisconsin, Zach Brunner furthered his education at The University of Wisconsin Superior where he studied business and history. He remembers sitting in his dorm asking himself what he genuinely wanted to do with his life. Sports writing is what jumped out most, so he created a twitter and started to gain a following. Eventually he was able to create a website and he’s been writing about sports ever since.

Brunner’s reason for choosing sports as his medium was the easy part. Brunner described his passion for sports as always present throughout his life. After an injury, he had to look at football in a different way and he took it in stride. He’s coached for the Chippewa Valley Predators, and he enjoyed blending a business aspect to sports through his writing. Brunner likes to stay connected with his audience, so he’s always willing to talk sports through email and twitter. This is great for keeping people loyal to your content and helps create a relationship to his readers.  

Twitter had a huge impact on building FlurrySports. Brunner did not use other media platforms outside of twitter, mostly because he never needed to. He wanted to create a platform where he could do his own thing and write his opinion, but he also knew the importance of backing up his opinion with facts. That’s where Brunner says his history minor has helped him in his career. Learning how to analyze documents and implementing the right facts in your writing help make it as strong and believable as possible. Both are crucial when writing sports, especially when the content is unique in comparison to the mainstream.

FlurrySports is currently 3 years old and growing strong. Brunner says that setting yourself apart from everybody else and staying original is everything. Outside of finding your voice, Brunner highlighted the phrase SEO. This stands for search engine optimization, People pay google to be the first website to pop up when people google certain things, so finding a way to play that algorithm is important to keeping traffic on your site. Using terms and headlines that are relevant to the type of media you are writing will increase the amount of people that find your website. Brunner has put no money investment toward his website, just a ton of his time. Brunner has built a website that he’s proud of, and he was able to do it through his vast knowledge of not only sports, but business, writing, and history as well. Brunner can definitely see a larger company buying FlurrySports in the future.

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Job Shadow: Briquelle Neyens, Digital Content Creator

By Timika Miner

Briquelle Neyens graduated from UW-Eau Claire with a degree in Integrated Strategic Communications, Public Relations, and a minor in Psychology in May of 2018. Before pursuing a professional career, Briquelle had a great amount of on campus involvement such as PRSSA, and the position of secretary and community service coordinator for the E-board. She completed 2 internships throughout her time as a student, including a Public Affairs internship for Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire where she wrote articles for their newsletter, and a Marketing and Events Internship with Country Jam and Blue Ox Music Festivals operating promotional events.

In this picture, Briquelle is writing a blog post for Skyline Exhibits on her tablet. © 2019 Kate Morris

Briquelle landed her first professional job as a Creative Marketing Assistant for Skyline Exhibits in February of 2019. Since getting that job, she has relocated to Gilbert, Arizona and was given the opportunity to continue as a Digital Content Creator on a contract with Skyline Exhibits. Through this contract, Briquelle is expected to create blog posts and social media posts on a set schedule for the company. She has also gained 2 additional clients through different connections that she has made throughout her time in the field.

Briquelle works from home, where she essentially serves as her own boss. A typical day of work for Briquelle consists of writing blog content for her 3 clients. She offers different content ideas and topics for each client, and researches information to put into educational and informational content for their websites. Other than writing blog posts, each one of her client’s needs vary. Besides creating content for Skyline Exhibits, Briquelle has a client who owns a home goods business where she engages with potential targeted buyers on Instagram and writes website copies for her new products. She is also in charge of writing her email content throughout the week. Her other client is a fireplace company who helps people transfer from wood to gas fireplaces. Briquelle does extensive research on gas fireplaces and why it is beneficial to switch so she is able to write about it in her blog posts and social media posts. “I’m definitely learning a lot about each topic with the clients I have,” shared Briquelle, “It’s kind of cool learning as I go, and as I write about them more and more it gets easier.”

One of Briquelle’s biggest achievements thus far in her career is being able to be her own boss and make her own hours. She believes that because she made her own website to display her abilities and skills, she has put herself out there to get what she wanted. She also says that on-boarding 2 new clients in less than a year is another huge accomplishment to her. Knowing that she has clients who not only trust in her work and creativity, but also receive results from it is extremely rewarding. Briquelle gives one important piece of advice to anyone who pursues a career like hers, and that is to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and learn new things.

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