Catey Traylor interviews a homeless man who now travels the nation with an organization called the Vet Hunters, which works to prevent veteran homelessness. 

Online journalism major Catey Traylor believes her work on the Carnegie-Knight News21 project at Arizona State University has given her connections that will last throughout her professional life.

“The connections you make, you can’t make anywhere else,” Traylor said. “I would never have had that opportunity if it had not been for News21.”

Traylor, a South Lyon senior, was one of 24 college journalists from across the nation chosen to work on the project, titled “Back Home: The Enduring Battles Facing Post-9/11 Veterans.” ​The multimedia project details the issues veterans face as they “negotiate a federal bureaucracy that is often overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with them,” according to a project press release.

The Department of Journalism faculty nominated Traylor and committed $10,000 for her to participate in the project.

“It was such a big honor to be chosen,” Traylor said. “It was a huge honor to represent CMU and get our name out there.”

Department of Journalism Chair Dr. Maria Marron said Traylor was nominated because she has a strong academic background and the faculty thought she would be a great fit for the program.

“She has the sort on enquiring mind and the professional dynamo that made her a great candidate for this particular program,” Marron said.           

Traylor began work on the project in January with weekly seminars via Skype. In May, she moved to Phoenix and worked on the project until the beginning of August. She traveled to San Antonio, New York City, Boston, Hartford, Conn., and New Haven, Conn., to interview between 50 and 60 people for her story on homeless veterans.

She said she gathered so much information from her interviews that she had to use much of it as background information.

“I had so much information, that I would still be writing now,” Traylor said.

She said her editor, Pulitzer Prize winner Jacquee Petchel, taught her how important patience is in the newsroom.

“The story isn’t going to just spring up,” Traylor said. “You have to keep working and wait for it.”

She said her education at CMU, specifically her knowledge of AP Style, her JRN 202 class, and her experiences on Central Michigan Life and Grand Central magazine prepared her for the project.

“I wouldn’t know how to be the journalist I am without CM Life and Grand Central,” Traylor said.

The networking she was able to do while working on the project gives Traylor confidence that she will have no problem finding a job after graduation.

“I want to thank Dr. Marron and my professors for the opportunity and for believing in me,” she said.