Wapello teacher makes duck calls by hand

While on my internship at the Quad City Times, I was able to visit small town Wapello, Iowa to talk to a local teacher who hand makes duck calls. Brandon Brown is no ordinary school teacher. He works seven days a week at home inside his garage, where he works closely with his work equipments. My story got picked up by the Associated Press wire and was distributed nationwide. The Des Moines Register was one of the newspapers that shared my article.

Here is the full story : The Des Moines Register

photo credit: Beth Van Zandt/Muscatine Journal

Stacey Murray Feature Story

By: Anis Shakirah Mohd Muslimin


Small town girl, big dreams.

Stacey Murray grew up in Hopkinton, Iowa — a small town with a population of 628 people, and just about over an hour away from Iowa City.

With a graduating class of just 68 people, the transition from home to the University of Iowa was not going to be easy for Murray.

Four years later, and she is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the The Daily Iowan.


Besides being the head of the student newspaper, Murray also has to carry the weight of being the first from her family to go to college.

She was awarded the Bill Mertens Memorial Daily Iowan Scholarship — a program for outstanding high school journalists — after she graduated from high school.

Along with the monetary value from the award, Murray also received direct admissions into the UI’s prestigious journalism program, but in return, she had to work at the student publication outlet for the entirety of her college career.


“It’s really interesting because I don’t think about the phrase first in my family to go to college a lot because it seems pretty natural,” Murray said. “It’s not been so much of an absence to me because it has felt natural that people had followed other paths.”

Murray, a senior majoring in Journalism and minoring in Political Science at the UI, graduated top of her class in high school and said she had always felt that college was her natural and expected path.

She is now aiming to get into Law School after she graduates from the UI in May 2016.

“People like to talk about first generation students and the fact that their disadvantaged, but it’s really hard to measure that disadvantage,” she said.

Reflecting on her first generation status, Murray said, she has never felt disadvantaged for being the first in her family to go to college.

However, she said, being a first-generation student did mean that her parents had a different way of thinking about money compared to other students whose parents went to college.

“I don’t think you’re going to find a first generation student whose parents think it is a good idea to drop 20 or 30 thousand dollars to go travel in Europe for a semester,” she said. “I cannot imagine pitching that to my parents.”





In this article, I sat down with Malaysian author Nisah Haron to talk about her experiences as a writer. Haron, a former lawyer, left the world of legal affairs to pursue a full-time career in writing and storytelling in 2006. She was a member of the University of Iowa International Writing Program. She was just 17 when her literary career began with the publication of her first work, Di Sebalik Wajahmu, Aries [Aries’ Masquerade]. Her popular works include Cinta Sangkuriang Rindu Oedipus [Sangkuriang’s Love, Oedipus’ Longing], a collection of short stories published in 2006 that has been translated into English, and Lemang Nan Sebatang [The Lemang Soliloquy], which earned her the Ujana Malaysia Premier Literary Award. Here is the link for the full story: The Daily Iowan Link




Breaking Asian Stereotypes

An avid fan of writing about social issues, I have a particular interest in covering and understanding racism and why it happens. I wrote this article about a local campaign to counter xenophobia on the University of Iowa campus, especially after international and Asian American students at the UI were targets of xenophobic messages mostly on Yik Yak, I broke that news too. Here is the link: The Daily Iowan Link


As part of the Daily Iowan special edition that focused solely on drugs, I wrote about how international students at the University of Iowa had different perceptions and views of drugs compared to local students.

Data from the UI 2015 National College Health Assessment report shows international students consistently say they have never taken drugs. According to the data, 91.5 percent of international students have never used marijuana, 97.2 percent have never used cocaine, and 88.3 percent have never used synthetic marijuana.

For domestic students, those numbers are much lower. According to the same study, 54.1 percent of domestic students have reported to have never used marijuana; 90.2 percent have never used cocaine, and 85.4 percent have never used synthetic marijuana.

Here is the full story: Daily Iowan Link