Where are they now? Becky Harris: Olympic Journalist

Sep 08, 2016 | Posted by Laura


For most of us, watching the Olympics on television is the closest we’ll ever be to the thousands of athletes from across the globe who arrive to compete. Even if we had the opportunity to attend, the chances of getting up close and personal with the participants would be nearly impossible. For one former IEW student, however, this opportunity became a reality last month at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. We interviewed Becky Harris, who is now a journalist, about her IEW experience.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. I have a younger brother and a twin brother. We were quite competitive, so looking back, I pity my mom as she homeschooled us all the way to high school graduation.

What are you doing now?

I am currently still living in Indy. I did my undergraduate work at IUPUI (Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis) in journalism/Spanish, and after graduation in May continued on to a one-year master’s program in sports journalism.

When did you start using IEW?

I started in 5th grade, so I was about ten. My mom watched Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and incorporated IEW writing principles in every subject possible.

What is your favorite part of IEW?

In a backwards way, what I didn’t like about IEW while growing up—the checklists—became what I love the most and what helped me grow the most as a writer. What once felt forced—adverbial clauses, very short sentences, prepositional sentence openers and the like—became natural through repetition and consistency in methodology. I found myself laughing at a recent story I wrote because I had put in alliteration and didn't notice until my mom pointed it out a few days later. The IEW way of approaching writing has become an ingrained part of my personal style. Andrew Pudewa is an amazing teacher, even via video, and I'm so glad I also had the opportunity to take one of his in-person SAT prep sessions.

Did IEW help you in college? If so, how?

My sophomore and junior year I had a history professor who, if it were even possible, had even stricter writing standards than IEW. We're talking a 40-page handout on the first day of class on how he wanted his outlines structured and his expectations in terms of grammatical accuracy and our level of sophistication. Above all else, he abhorred poor organization. So what I initially disliked the most about IEW, the keyword outlines and checklists, became my saving grace. I can't tell you in how many other classes as a journalism major I put into use all the lessons I'd learned through IEW and how much those outlines proved useful for research papers. I may not stick to a strict three-word outlining system these days, but the basic principles are firmly in place, and I don't think I'll ever stray from them.

How has IEW helped your professional career?

What began with me complaining about every mark on a checklist has turned into a career for me. I love journalism and the media, and I've been fortunate to enjoy several internships. To date, IEW's principles have shown up in my writing (as well as copy I've edited) in the Saturday Evening Post, the Indianapolis Star, and most recently, on TeamUSA.org as I interned with the USOC in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympics. I'm incredibly grateful for having had such a strong writing curriculum to carry me through college and now as I start my professional career.

Becky added that the assignments she most enjoys now are longer feature stories that require more creativity in style and organization than basic news articles. Her IEW training helped equip her with the tools needed to be successful. When we asked what piece of advice she would give to other IEW students, her reply was, “Give IEW a chance. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your writing will improve, and you’ll turn out alright in the end.”

Enjoy a few of the recent stories Becky wrote from the Olympics in Rio de Janiero:

Galloway Wins Taekwondo Bronze for Team USA

Team USA's Olympic Diving Competition

Team USA's First Olympic Sailing Medal Since 2008

Laura House discovered IEW while homeschooling her three children and now enjoys helping other families transform their students' abilities by introducing them to IEW. She serves as the Hybrid Schools Manager and as an exhibitor at homeschool conventions. Laura and her husband, Gary, live in Virginia, close to their three grown children who are also grateful for the skills they learned from IEW.


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