During this practicum position, I had no fixed beat and was assigned few stories. Instead, I chased the questions I had about Minneapolis and St. Paul and produced stories that, at the very least, satisfied my curiosity.

I spent a lot of time on one particular piece that investigated the underrepresentation of minority women studying hard sciences at the University of Minnesota. Through a data request on student demographics, I learned that at the institution's two primary colleges of science, a mere 4 percent and 2.17 percent of students self-identify as black. I also found that in engineering programs, male students, on average, outnumber women about three to one, and non-white students tend to make up around a third of the population.

 

At U of M, Muslim students struggle to stick to religious diet

As gluten-free/ vegan/ paleo fever reached a peak, I wondered about people on campus who had religious dietary restrictions. This piece explored the minutae of sticking to a halal diet: figuring out if pork dumplies were fried in the same vat as French fries, whether the same utensil slices sausage and cheese pizza, asking the sandwich shop employee to swap gloves after preparing a ham sub. What I found is that while individual Muslim students cope with halal diets differently, they're overwhelmingly frustrated with the range of options near campus.

 

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The year the light rail came to town 

A series of articles I wrote that fall touched on different aspects of the Twin Cities' brand new light rail system. I broke the news that mere weeks after its debut, ridership was about 15 years ahead of projected pace. Another story featured a local inventor with a solution that would coast the trains riding between St. Paul and Minneapolis on a wave of green lights. And one last one dug into how our light rail cars get wrapped in ads, which nets Metro Transit millions in annual revenue.