Student Bloggers Help Tell the UNK Story

Kyle Petersen
Student Staff Writer

Student BloggersMuch like historians read the journals of Lewis and Clark to get a picture of what their expedition was like, prospective students can now understand the UNK college adventure, thanks to a group of online bloggers.

Six UNK students have been selected as the second group of online bloggers to record and write blogs about their college life for the University Web site. The online writers are part of the UNK marketing plan to attract new students.

Brian Spradlin, UNK Web designer and editor of the online blogs, said the bloggers were selected after a five-week application time period. Applicants were asked to submit their class standing, their on or off campus living status and two writing samples.

After collecting the applications, Spradlin, along with Vice Chancellor of University Relations Curt Carlson and Admissions Director Dusty Newton, filtered down the candidates to eight finalists. After one-on-one interviews, the six online bloggers were chosen.

Spradlin said that the bloggers were picked to be representative of the UNK student body. He said the finalists were spread over different grades, majors, extra-curricular activities and gender. “We tried to get the best mix we could,” Spradlin said.

The previous group of online bloggers was comprised of a group of four students, so the larger panel of writers this year includes more perspectives and insights pertaining to the UNK experience.

Kelli Cavenah, a freshman psychobiology major from Rapid City, S.D., is one of the new online bloggers. No stranger to the writing world, Cavenah was the yearbook editor for her high school.

A member of the Health Science Club, First Year Program, Honors Program and director of career and personal development for the Chi Omega sorority, Cavenah said her out-of-state background and involvement in Greek living will add a unique viewpoint to her blogging.

Complementing Cavenah for the freshmen point of view is Lawrence “Larry” Perez, a criminal justice major from Topeka, Kan., who is a member of the UNK wrestling team.

According to Perez, the most important thing that readers can learn from the online bloggers is not academics or sports, but rather the personal growing and maturing one experiences as a college student.

“I feel that students can learn from my blogs that college is not only about school, but also about finding who you are. College has changed my life in so many ways. I hope they can find out what a true person I really am through my blogs,” Perez said.

The junior online bloggers are Cory Helie of North Platte, Melissa Hinkley of Lincoln and Astrid Garcia of Grand Island.

A journalism major, Helie said readers can learn from the UNK online bloggers about “how small town, Midwestern Nebraska can be just as fun and exciting as any place on the East or West Coast.”

As a veteran in campus media, Helie said readers can expect “entertainment and humor” in his blogging, and those who prefer audio over text may find his entries particularly interesting, because he hopes to produce podcasts and audio files to accompany some of his blogs.

A journalism major who is a member of both the UNK women’s basketball team and softball team, Hinkley said the most important thing that readers can learn from the UNK online bloggers is that college may be hectic, but it is rewarding if you take the time to get to know your fellow students as well as the class material.

“College entails much more then just opening a textbook and reading a few chapters. It’s about building relationships and preparing yourself for your future,” Hinkley said.

Garcia, an elementary education major born in Guatemala, is the president of the Hispanic Student Association and a student senator for the College of Education. She said her experience as a first-generation college student and a minority sets her apart from a traditional student on campus, but she doesn’t view herself as an atypical student.

“I live in the dorms. I have a roommate. I eat at Chartwells. I go to classes. I struggle with homework and procrastination. I drink coffee. And I sometimes go to class in my pajamas,” Garcia said.

The sixth online blogger is Siobhan Duffy, a senior organizational communications major from Omaha.

According to Duffy, a critical element of college life that readers can learn about from the UNK online bloggers is the campus environment.

“When a student takes a tour of the campus, they really only see one side of it. By reading the blogs, the students can see what UNK classes are like, what there is to do around town, as well as the different organizations that are available to join,” Duffy said.

To view any of these online bloggers’ entries, log-on to, and click the “online student journals” photo at the top-left corner of the UNK homepage.

Picture: New group of UNK bloggers (shown clockwise from the left) are: Kelli Cavenah of Rapid City, S.D.; Cory Helie of North Platte, Melissa Hinkley of Lincoln, Larry Perez of Topeka, Kan., Astrid Garcia of Grand Island and Siobhan Duffy of Omaha.