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Carly Washebek Story Behind the Story

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This is Carly Washebek's "Story Behind the Story" in which she tells her story about working on the War: Through Their Eyes, Vol. 3, Warriors and Students multimedia project.

Hundreds of soldiers form a human wall to intimidate the insurgents before trudging through the muddy swamp that separates them from the opposition. Muscular men dressed in matching green uniforms work together to complete one mission: eliminate the enemy. Human blood, brains and flesh begin to cover the battlefield. One man dodging bullets trips over a fallen soldier and realizes it’s his best friend. He wants to leave, he wants to be home, he wants this nightmare to be over.

Kathrine McCard completely changed my perspective of being in the military. She is a Navy veteran, and although her role was very important, she never fought in a war or served on the frontline. She never killed anyone; no one tried to kill her. She taught me to open my mind up to all the behind-the-scene work done in the military. I learned from her to never assume you know someone based on a certain group they belong to.

I’m a journalism student at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and I’ve been here for three years. This semester I’m working as a reporter for the school’s newspaper, the Advance Titan. Each week I’m assigned one or two articles. The articles need at least three sources and have to be about 500 words. Similar to Grace Lim’s class, Long Form Journalism in the Digital Age, all of this must be completed on my own time.

On top of taking 12 credits and writing for the Advance Titan, I work part-time for Eastbay. For 25 hours a week, I’m a customer service representative helping people worldwide to get the best sporting equipment on the market. For the other 143 hours of my week, I sleep, eat, and breathe school. An average day for me consists of five hours of work followed by three hours of class, and then another four hours at the library. By the time I make it home, I’m using all my energy just to drag myself up the stairs to my bed. It’s been an exhausting semester. I can easily says it’s been the most challenging one yet. Running between work, class, reporting and studying, I barely find time to catch my breath.

When I first heard about the War: Through Their Eyes, Warriors and Students, I really didn’t know what to think. Before the semester started, Grace sent out a survey via email asking the class if we have smartphones. Right off the bat I felt like I wasn’t ready for the class because I wasn’t as technologically advanced as I should be. I’m the type of person to overthink everything, and in turn overreact to everything, so I started getting really nervous about the course. My first thought was to look Grace up on ratemyprofessor.com, and when I did, I started to get a lot more excited for the course. I remember one entry in particular saying if you didn’t like her class, you’re probably bad at journalism. After reading students' feedback, I realized Grace is an up-to-date professor with real world experience that would be beneficial for me to learn about.

As we discussed the project assignment during the first day of class, butterflies flew around my stomach crashing into each other throughout the two hour long class. I’ve never been expected to do so much. By the end of the semester we are required to have: three completed audio podcasts, at least ten journal entries, this first person essay as well as the feature story on my veteran. How will I be able to pull this off on top of all my other responsibilities? Should I just drop the course? I’m sure something else would be easier. The idea crossed my mind, but it left as fast as it came. I decided that night, I’m going to college and majoring in journalism to become a successful journalist. I’m not paying thousands of dollars a semester to take the easy way out and not gain any experience along the way. I knew this course was going to be the key I needed to open the door into real world journalism experience. I don’t regret it for a second.

Getting together with Kathrine McCard was as easy as jumping into a moving taxi going 65 miles per hour down the highway with its doors closed. We were never on the same schedule. I wasn’t able to get ahold of her for the first two weeks of the semester, and I felt like I was being lapped in a race with my classmates to get the most information we could. I did eventually get together with Kat, and we managed to find additional times to record enough information for my story. If I was available, she was sick. If she was available, she would get a call from her son’s school that he wet his pants and needed new ones. Finally, when we thought nothing else could go wrong - I got sick. During spring break, I graduated to a grade-A stalker because I plugged Kat’s home address into my GPS and drove more than a half hour to get the interview I needed.

This class taught me that I am capable of doing so much more than I ever thought possible. In the beginning of the semester, I never thought I would be able to complete all of the assignments for the course as well as balance all my other responsibilities. I’m glad I took this journalism course as a junior because now I’m going to think every other class is a piece of cake. Kathrine McCard opened up my eyes to a whole new idea of the military. I realize now that there are so many people who serve that may not be acknowledged since they didn’t fight on the frontline. Kathrine’s dedication to the military has inspired me to share her story and give credit to each and every person who serves.

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