Shaun Ajay



I am writer, that much is a given to someone like myself. I speculate, make suggestions, theorize and begin the deep excavation for stories around me. I am a conversationalist, that much is a given to anyone who talks to me. I love bringing new ideas to the table, debating, agreeing with another. I am a journalist, that much is a given, to someone who has gone through this course and came out of it as a stronger, independent writer.

I walked into class with no expectations. I was an open book, you could say. I knew that there were some political tensions within the Latinx community in the U.S but I felt this wasn’t something I should cover. There was sense of deeper understanding of the community that needed to be heard of. But I struggled to find a topic to cover initially, because I was so unfamiliar with the dynamics of the different communities in this country.

My first story is about the stigma of immigration with the Latinx community. It was something I’ve never heard or read about before, and it prompted to look further into it. When I posted the story on my Twitter, a lot of people had retweeted and liked the story. One person had commented that it was a great piece on an important topic. This propelled me to pursue writing stories of unheard voices or dispelling misconceptions about this particular group of people.

For my second story, I knew I wanted to write an article on culture. And I thought food would be a good way to start a conversation on the diversity of Latin American countries. It also helped me connect with my sources more as we shared food, ideas, and pleasant exchanges of what reminds us of home. There wasn’t a disconnect and tension that I felt from my first story, but more of a mutual understanding with my sources by our love for food. As a Filipino, I found comfort in recognizing the similarities of our culture, like I was hearing the experiences of some extended family of mine.

My final story draws on the experiences of Afro-Latinas. It’s a more interpersonal story that talks about social issues within the Latinx community such as colorism and struggling to identify with either communities in the U.S. One of my sources had thanked me for doing a story on this because she felt it was important that people know about this. It really got me thinking, “my work has impact.” Actual tangible impact that possibly affect real-life people. I was getting to the bottom of something here, but the more I researched, the more I felt I was just scratching the surface of this community. My words aren’t taken in face-value as another student assignment, but a life-lesson for myself and my readers too.

My journey through this course has been a thorough learning experience, not just in my experience as a journalist, but also social issues that needed to be addressed. There were countless struggles I went through, scurrying for sources to interview, or scheduling them and having it postponed till my due date. It taught me to value time, and consider being flexible and resourceful.

More than anything, this course has taught me a great deal about a distant but familiar community. I enjoyed bouncing ideas off with my colleagues, sharing, and critiquing their work. Their work collects real-life problems and participates in this continuous conversation on the Latinx community.

Not only did this class leave me with invaluable skills in the world of news, journalists, editors and the press. It also connected me to different people, sparked a new sense of social justice, and recultivated my love for writing. I am a writer, that much is a given.


IMG_3605I had my first love at 8 years old, when I read a book called “The Book of Everything.” It’s the story of Thomas, a boy much like myself, who saw all things good and bad, but never said anything about it. Instead he wrote it down. And in that book there’s a quote that Thomas always used to say — “When I grow up, I am going to be happy.” And I still hope for it to this day.  

As a University of Utah graduate, I was able to explore my interests and learn holistically about many things from fake news to the cultural language of yoga. As this chapter of my life closes, what I hope for in the next few years in my career is cultivation. I believe there is much room for me to grow in all aspects, from my writing and content creation to communication and leadership skills. Personally, I hope to learn more about my own culture and ethnic identity of both India and the Philippines. Perhaps, this chapter of education is never its own end, but a means to a good future.


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