Shaantai Leary

Photo by Tauna Lynne Price


I have never taken my major, mass communication/journalism, seriously — until now. I picked communication because I wanted to write; I love to write. The feeling I get when my pen meets the paper for the initial takeoff, to the final period at the end of a story, is magical, and for me the whole experience is stress-relieving and makes me feel powerful.

With the sole purpose of pleasing my family, I have been furthering my education by attending the University of Utah. My family wanted me to experience college life. I do not blame them; it is an experience worth taking and I see that now. This class and this beat have made me realize my true passion. I felt right at home interviewing sushi chefs at Yellowfinn and The Flying Sumo, and I didn’t want to stop talking with the staff at The Kura Door, who were always making certain that I was comfortable.

I am now taking things more seriously. I have always loved talking with people, so that was never a challenge. I think my biggest challenges were figuring out how to get started with a story and deciding which direction to go with it. Professor Mangun has been there for me from the very beginning. If ever I had a question I would get almost an immediate response.

Honestly, I did not take my first two stories as seriously as I would have hoped because my epiphany did not occur until I was putting together my enterprise memo. It was at that moment that I realized I could write what I wanted to write and I could publish it for the world to see. No longer was my work personal; I could share it with the world. What a great profession journalism is: I’ve been able to share my experiences with an audience who is intrigued by the idea that I wrote on their favorite sushi restaurant or I wrote about a day spa that sounds soothing to the mind and body.

My favorite quote in high school was, “Things don’t have to be beautiful to be extraordinary. The ordinary can be just as beautiful.” Josh Hartnett said this in the movie, “Wicker Park.” It means so much more to me now than it ever did. I want my readers to experience the extraordinary through something most people would see as average and ordinary. I want to give a new perspective and a vision to people who struggle with envisioning beauty.


At 22 years old, I am in my final semesters at the University of Utah, majoring in mass communication with an emphasis in journalism. My passions are writing, dancing and photography. Ever since I was a little girl I have always loved all of these things.

I currently work at Olympus Gymnastics as the dance coach and I am hoping to start up some freelance writing by next year, potentially to get a job with Travel and Leisure Magazine. I am also pondering taking some French classes and traveling to France as soon as I graduate (at this rate it may take 10 years, only joking of course). My next big investment, other than my time, will be to get a better digital camera. I would like one with interchangeable lenses; currently, I am looking into the Sony α NEX-5.

The true love of my life is my dog Kedo. He is a Siberian husky with one blue eye and one brown. My goal is to be able to have him travel the world with me, as I write and take photographs of different hotels, food and spas around the world.

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