Kayla Dunn
NonDoc 2020 fall intern Kayla Dunn snowmobiled to Two Top peak in West Yellowstone, Idaho, while visiting family on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. (Provided)

STILLWATER — My childhood taught me how to be a professional tourist. By my freshman year of high school, we had packed up and moved across the country 10 times, chasing college towns. Somewhere between Washington’s peninsula and Mississippi’s backwoods, I learned the art of embracing a culture and listening for its story. In a roundabout way, that is what has brought me to NonDoc for a reporting internship this fall.

As a child, I took mental notes of the differences in belief systems, values and daily activities around the nation in order to understand others. The U.S. is an eclectic mix of cultures and communities, and I became enamored with experiencing them. As a young adult, I set my sights on studying journalism and Spanish in order share people’s stories.

Of all the college towns I’ve been to, Stillwater is my favorite (which is saying something as a person who has only lived in college towns). Oklahoma State offers a community that encouraged me to grow, and in four years I have a lot. I ran for Student Government Senate, fostered an international student through Cowboy Cousins, studied abroad in Costa Rica and joined a sorority.

But my collegiate career was largely defined by experiences in journalism.

It was in Stillwater that I published my first piece in The O’Colly, OSU’s student newspaper. From my debut in sports writing to feature-work on the Equal Rights Amendment and Oklahoma lawmakers, I started my career between the baby blue walls of Paul Miller, Room 108.

The summer after my junior year, I drove 1,100 miles to Tucson, Arizona. I wanted to write about “the border crisis” from the perspective of those experiencing it. Working for NBC affiliate KVOA, fellow reporters and I covered court cases about immigration issues and breaking news on the border in Nogales. Sitting in the shadows of the black metal wall defining the Arizona and Mexico border, I knew I ultimately wanted to pursue foreign correspondence.

Back in Stillwater, I served as the 2019-2020 editor in chief of The O’Colly. Running a newspaper can be grueling, but running a student paper during a global pandemic while campus is shut down? Unprecedented, to say the least.

Our ticket to the future

I, like so many others, have felt like 2020 swept the rug from under my feet. Originally, I planned to graduate in May and begin my career in Tulsa. Now, I’m staying in Stillwater for one more semester, the final stretch, to pursue a dual degree.

As a perpetual tourist, I’ve learned how to adapt to change, roll with the punches and fit into new realities. We might not have control of where this year has taken us, but as a democracy, we have control of who represents us. Who leads us into the future.


Wendy Weitzel

Important lessons from journalism school: Always check the weather by Wendy Weitzel

I applied to NonDoc because I believe in journalism and in the nondoctrinaire work being produced here.

My journalistic goal is to provide the resources for citizens to educate themselves and offer avenues for people to understand one another. All U.S. citizens cannot move to Arizona to work with refugees, but I can do my absolute best to bring that information within a Google search. Not all Oklahomans will be able to attend local Senate and House district events to choose who to cast their ballot for this November, but I can do my best to provide unbiased information for them to make educated decisions.

I am honored to report on the local election issues that will shape the daily lives of my fellow Oklahomans, and I am incredibly excited to grow as a journalist with the help of NonDoc.

I hope to empower citizens to make confident, educated decisions this fall.

Cheers to the 2020 election cycle and our ticket to the future.