Student’s Investigative Journalism Paper on Homelessness Published in Times-Union
When senior journalism student Carolina Keegan showed up for the first class of the semester-long “Humanities Capstone” course, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She knew the class included a substantial project and required a lot of time and effort. But what she did not know was that the class would make her an author of not one, not two, but five front-page articles published in the Times-Union in Warsaw, Indiana — an accomplishment she never imagined would happen before graduation.
“Through our Humanities Capstone course, students complete an independent, research-based project in their field or discipline,” said Dr. Lauren Rich, chair of the Department of Humanities.
For journalism majors, the paper takes the form of an investigative journalism report on whatever subject the student is interested in. The paper was to be set up as a series of articles on the same subject so that it could be published in a newspaper or magazine as a series.
With these parameters in mind, Keegan began to lean toward a familiar topic.
“Homelessness is something that I’ve always been passionate about,” said Keegan. “I’ve written articles on nationwide homelessness in the past, and I wanted to narrow that down to Kosciusko County.”
When Dr. Paulette Sauders, professor emerita of English and journalism and Keegan’s adviser heard the idea, she immediately supported it.
“Since Carolina is an excellent interviewer and researcher and writer, I encouraged her in her chosen subject — homelessness — to keep it local, so that the local newspaper and/or local magazines might publish the series,” said Sauders.
Once Keegan outlined the articles, she got to work right away, scheduling meetings with residents and directors at local homeless shelters and conducting interviews with skill and sensitivity. She took her investigative journalism project very seriously, knowing that it could be key to landing a job after graduation.
“From the beginning, Dr. Sauders spoke about the value of getting our papers published and about how it looks great on a resume. This is something unique to Grace’s program. There are not many undergraduate programs that have such an in-depth capstone requirement that sets seniors up for career success,” said Keegan.
When Keegan was close to being finished with her final draft, Sauders contacted the managing editor of the Times-Union, David Slone, to ask him if he wanted to see the series for possible publication.
“When Paulette first emailed me about Carolina’s five-part series on homelessness in Kosciusko County, I was interested to see how a college student would tackle such an important issue,” said Slone. “After reading her stories, I felt that it was evident it was an issue she was genuinely interested in. She talked to a variety of sources and hit on a number of important aspects of the issue, from one woman’s personal efforts to overcome her homelessness to how the local homeless shelter came to be. I applaud Paulette for giving her students a very worthwhile assignment and Carolina for her research and writing.”
The first of Keegan’s articles was published in Times-Union on December 6.
“I was walking on air,” said Keegan, unable to recount the story without a smile on her face. “And when I saw that the first article made the front page, I realized that might be the case for the next four — and it was!”
As Keegan looks toward graduation this May, she knows one thing for sure — she wants to keep writing.
“There’s nothing like reading a published article with your own name at the top. The entire process has been really exciting to me, and makes me excited for what is in store after graduation!”
Interested in a career in investigative journalism? Learn more about our journalism program.
Carolina’s capstone project was just the icing on the cake. Her experiential learning has included a wide variety of opportunities:
-Writing for the Sounding Board campus newspaper
-Serving as a PR assistant for the Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams
-Writing for the Grace College Marketing Department
-Editing the Inkspot Literary Magazine