As we sat down brainstorming a variety of ideas, a wave of frustration began to cloud over us. My group and I wanted to write on a topic that had not been done before. A story that was creative, distinct, yet aspiring to read. Ideas began to flow through our minds, while we made a few scribbles and jotted down notes here and there, but it did take a few tries to finally solidify the perfect topic.
The main difficulty our group had while choosing a topic was that we wanted to cover a story that would be appealing to a majority of college students. A story that would be enjoyable to read from headline to conclusion.
So we asked ourselves, “what would get college students to stop scrolling through their feeds and click our story link?” Lightbulbs lit up around the group, while each member shared an idea. The three of us combined our creative thoughts and advanced towards an agreement on a story topic: “Celebrity” Students On-Campus.
As we begin to walk you through the journey of how we covered our story, we want you to picture yourself walking through campus, seeing hundreds of unfamiliar faces each day. They may look like average individuals from the outside, but behind each mask there is a face, and behind that a story.
After we decided on our topic, our group began to conduct research and reach out to students who come from well-respected families. Through our research and interview processes, we came to realize that Cal Poly has a variety of students who come from well-recognized families. Whether it’s in the business, acting, television, or sports industries, our campus has students associated with them all. Contacting sources to interview was a bit challenging at first because most individuals are not exactly comfortable talking about their family’s “claim to fame” in a public setting.
While we encountered this obstacle, fellow team member Jayna Dunning was able to come up with a solution that put us to business.
“It’s really important that we look at the way we phrase our messages when contacting sources, especially when contacting an individual that might be nervous about sharing a personal story.”
However, all obstacles vanished after we mastered the correct way to communicate with our potential sources. We were able to get in contact with three sources, all Cal Poly students, who comfortably shared their stories with us. One thing that we noticed while tackling this story topic was our ability to gain our sources’ trust. Reaching out to total strangers in hopes that they will share a piece of their personal story does not always happen smoothly.
As group member Kyla Osburn said, “I feel very accomplished as an individual after interviewing three strangers. I didn’t know anyone before the interviews and now I feel like I know almost everything about them.”
The first source our group interviewed was nutrition fifth year Will Gallo. The E.J. Gallo Winery is a family business that has been around for nearly four generations; a top leader in the U.S. wine industry. Today, Gallo’s immediate family runs the winery, giving him incredible hands-on experience and opportunity for growth before pursuing his career in the business world. Most importantly, Gallo admires the family business because of the close connection it has brought him to all of his family members.
A few wines produced and sold by The E.J. Gallo Winery.
“Gallo Winery has positively impacted my life. From providing for my entire family, job opportunities, and financial stability, the family business has brought us together and given us a feeling of togetherness,” Gallo said.
The family leaders behind the E.J. Gallo Winery.
The second source we interviewed was agricultural business fourth year Sutter Lindberg. He is the son of the CEO of Grocery Outlet, a supermarket company that offers discount, overstocked and closeout products from brand and private label suppliers. The family business began in 1946 when Lindberg’s great grandfather, James Read, bought government surplus food products and sold them in previously vacant stores throughout San Francisco.
Sutter Lindberg and his father Eric Lindberg at the Nasdaq Convention.
Lindberg says that he has been learning about the business since he was a little kid; it’s a passion that runs in his family. Today, he currently works as a stock boy at the Grocery Outlet located off Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo.
“It’s amazing what my family has done but I haven’t had much involvement with it. I am just fortunate to be a part of a family that has access to the resources I have today,” Lindberg said.
Lindberg working as a stock boy at the Grocery Outlet in San Luis Obispo.
As we wrapped up the interview process, the group began to notice a pattern in our sources’ responses. The interviewees did not like to think of themselves as “Celebrity” Students. They discussed that they were fortunate enough to be a part of a family name that had recognition but emphasized that they had no personal contribution to the company.
Tackling this story was challenging yet rewarding in the long run. Not only did we get to meet a group of “Celebrity Students” but we were able to learn about some unfamiliar faces at Cal Poly that we might not have met if it were not for this project. It was really enjoyable to listen to such humble, well-spoken individuals that have come from a family of success and fame. Going back to what we mentioned earlier, behind each mask there is a face, and behind that a story. Remember, wherever you may be, there is always someone around you with a story to tell.