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Rookie reporter starts job at Journal

Katrina Styx has been hired as this summer's news intern at the River Falls Journal.

And as such, Styx joins a growing list of past interns who have gone on into the "real world" of journalism and now work for various publications, some even owned by the Journal's parent company, Forum Communications.

Area readers can look for stories written by the recent UW-River Falls graduate in this issue and in more to come during the next three months.

In getting to know the 21-year-old Styx, if you ask her where she's from, Styx answers, "All over the place."

She attributes that answer to the several locations she's lived in the United States, being the youngest child and only daughter of a church pastor and nurse practitioner.

"I was born in Coos Bay, Ore.," begins Styx. Then she goes on to list the other cities and towns where her father was called to minister to Lutheran congregations, with wife, three sons and daughter in tow. That list includes Seattle, Wash., East Sheboygan in Wisconsin, and most recently Sturgeon Bay.

Now Styx adds River Falls to that list, having lived here for the last four years while attending UW-River Falls.

Why did Styx choose UW-RF?

Surprisingly she said, "Because I love horses." It was that love and the university's reputation of having a great animal science program that made her move across the state.

It was her dream to someday work with animals, horses especially, and earn a living in that field. She had already had some experience working with animals during part-time jobs she had held during high school.

However, that dream turned into a nightmare once her university studies began. She wanted out right from the start and felt she had made a wrong choice.

"Horse people are a different breed," Styx said.

She found her and "horse people's" personalities and temperaments to be polar opposites.

"I just couldn't see myself working with them," Styx explained. "Their attitudes and mentalities didn't agree with me."

But Styx did have a back-up plan. She would "switch horses in mid-stream" and go for a degree in English, another area of interest almost as intense as her love of horses.

"I had written silly little stories starting in the sixth or seventh grade," Styx said. "They were mostly fantasy stories, with a good vs. evil (storyline).

"And I like to read a lot. I could spend hours reading and writing," she added.

Styx says she's already written a 300- to 400-page novel she'd like to publish some day and has more ideas about other stories written on Post-It notes all over her desk at home.

"Post-It notes are my favorite thing ever," she says jokingly.

Anne McCaffrey and Orson Scott Card are two of Styx's favorite fantasy authors. She said it was one of McCaffrey's works, "Dragon Riders of Pern," that got her interested in that genre in the first place.

A minor in journalism came about as Styx proceeded with her English major studies.

"I was looking for something to complement English," she said. She thought about an international studies minor, a business writing minor, but when she took her first couple of journalism courses, she knew she had hit pay dirt.

"I love it," said an enthusiastic Styx. She could picture herself in magazine publishing or maybe in an editing position. An assistant editor, a page editor, a text editor: Any of those jobs might suite her well.

All that possible opportunity led Styx to apply for the Journal's intern position. Though it isn't a requirement for her major, Styx wanted to get first-hand experience working in journalism. And what better way than to begin with a small hometown newspaper?

Switching majors hadn't set well with Styx's mother. According to Styx, her concerned mother reportedly asked, "What can you do with an English major?"

Styx's reply: "What can't I do?"

She reasoned that a person with an English major background could be hired in almost any field of work with companies needing people with a good command of the language to write press releases, manuals, policies and procedures, human resource documents and more.

As the Journal's news intern Styx hopes to immerse herself into the complexities of the journalistic process.

"I want to learn all about the industry, what makes it work, learn its whole process, explore the entire field. I'm in sort of a testing stage right now."

She thinks a weekly paper is the perfect place to begin.

"There's no true personal connection with real people in a daily paper like there is with a weekly," Styx said.

Styx says she'd also like to look into novel or magazine publishing and perhaps work in a beginning editorial position in either area.

Graduate school is also a future possibility for the budding writer. She says the University of Minnesota -- Duluth reportedly has a good graduate program that's attracted her attention.

For now, however, she'll complete her duties as the Journal's "rookie" reporter until the end of August. To reach Styx, call her direct line, 426-1079, or send her an e-mail at