Shelly Guillory



I enrolled in this class to determine whether or not I wanted to be a reporter. On the first day of class, I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea I would cover real issues out in the community. When I learned my class would cover nonprofits on the west side, I felt my heart speed up a little. I hyperventilated. I knew no one and no organizations on the west side. I realized I needed to put aside my insecurities about interviewing sources I didn’t know and strap on some confidence to get the scoop and accurately represent the west side through my writing. It wasn’t easy.

I chose to cover a health beat, so I looked for nonprofits on the west side that provided healthcare services. I found many unique organizations I never knew existed, including the UNP-Hartland Partnership Center and Donated Dental. As a nurse at a substance abuse treatment facility with more than 300 clients, many of whom do not have health insurance, writing about these organizations proved invaluable. Not only do I now have community resources for my clients, I’ve made other uninsured Salt Lake County residents aware that opportunities for healthcare exist.

Driving to and from locations, I have a new appreciation for the west side. I’ve also established contacts in the community and am privileged to have met residents who live on the west side.

Though the workload of the class was difficult, I found the experience crucial in the decision-making process regarding my career. At first, interviews with sources were intimidating, which made me question whether or not journalism would work as a career I wanted to pursue. I worried I wasted people’s time or asked too much from sources when I needed a second (or third) interview to make my story work. But Stephanie Jensen from Donated Dental eased my fears when she sent an email response stating, “No problem! We love the attention,” to a request for a second interview.

I graduate in three weeks, and I’ve made no plans to become a full-time journalist. I’ll probably stick to freelance gigs. But the experience reporting on the west side as well as classroom instruction gave me everything I needed to become a better writer and a better reporter.


I graduated from the University of Utah in 2003 with a degree in nursing and in 2011 with a degree in mass communication-journalism.

I am currently the director of nursing at a substance abuse treatment center in Salt Lake City. When I am not working, I spend my free time writing, taking photographs and looking around for long-term freelance projects. I have a special interest in writing health-related stories and just finished writing seven medical sections in “The Encyclopedia of Eating Disorders.” While in school, I interned at Salt Lake City Weekly for twelve weeks, where I wrote music profiles, news blogs and other stories for online and print. I still do some freelance work for City Weekly.

My work has appeared in Salt Lake City Weekly, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Daily Utah Chronicle and Voices of Utah.

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