Le Tour Eiffel

Today when I opened up my Facebook News Feed, I was surprised to learn that it had already been three years since I visited a country that changed my life, France. Back in my senior year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France with our French Club, and spend two weeks in the country that many dream of visiting throughout their lifetime. After months of fundraising and preparation, our plane took flight from Minneapolis on a chilly spring evening, and ten of us were off to the foreign land.

The Eiffel Tower, circa 2013. Taken by Brett Mensing

I could write dozens of pages on this experience, but am choosing to center on my visit to the Eiffel Tower for this blog post. The photo that Facebook displayed as a blast from the past was my friends and I standing below the skyscraping Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. After all of the terror attacks that have been taking place in France over the past few months, I have really started to think about my visit once again, and reminisce about all of the life lessons that the two-week visit taught me. I choose to write this entry under the “Things I Remember” page, because I still to this day remember being so surprised about the size of the Eiffel Tower. Growing up watching TV and various movies and taking three years of French in high school, I had seen numerous pictures of the iconic monument, but never really realized just how big the Tower was.

When we arrived for our visit, I was breath taken by the 1,063 foot tower; amazed by the structural aspect of this ginormous attraction. I never realized just how much work it would really take to construct such a monstrous yet beautiful piece of art. The amount and size of the bolts and metal holding it together is something that I will never forget. Never seeing something built like this before, my mind started racing while thinking about the countless hours and lives that were lost while the construction took place. The Eiffel Tower serves as an important part of telecommunications throughout the country of France, but we often forget that it has a true meaning, beyond its glimmering lights that shine and twinkle every night across the City of Love.

This was one of the most memorable experiences from my trip abroad, along with the meal that we ate in the Tower for lunch on that bright yet chilly spring day in the city. The meal consisted of raw tuna for a hors d’oeuvre, calf for our meal, and a delicate chocolate mousse for dessert. The meal was extremely authentic, and not something that I would eat on a daily basis back home. But this was the start of my new beginning, and realization that life is a changing path that we must conform to in order to have fun, and life it to its fullest.

This post has allowed me to reminisce about my past, and think about going back to the City of Paris one day, hopefully for my honeymoon! I believe that after my visit to the Country, there is still a piece of my heart situated back in the land, a piece that will one day be put back in to place. I hope to visit my French family that I stayed with while on my second week of the experience. I recently contacted my French brother, Tom Vezier to interview him for a story I did for UTVS News after the Paris attacks back in November of 2015. It was nice to chat with him once again, but it made me realize that I must work to keep better contact with him, because it is important to have global connections in life.

The Iceman Roger

On Saturday, January 23, I had the chance to begin a new semester of reporting for my COMM 479 course. The opportunity to shoot a story over the weekend came to my mind during the previous week, when I realized that I would be heading up North to spend the weekend in Duluth Minnesota with my boyfriend, Justin. I typically try to shoot my reports (stories) before the day that I report on for UTVS News, which happens to be Tuesday this semester. For the first week of class, I wanted to do something that would be light hearted, fun, and feature-like so that I would have the time to edit it to my greatest ability, and also learn the new software that we are using at UTVS, Adobe Premiere Pro CC. The software was introduced to me during the fall semester, but I was hesitant to learn a new program, finding myself shying away from opening a new chapter in my career, which I now regret. The subject of my Mindings Collage and the publications that will follow from these entry’s is set to center on new beginnings, and taking risks in order to continue down the path of life, and become a better individual not only for myself, but society as a whole. With this in mind, I wish I would have taken the time to give up our old system (Final Cut Pro), and begin using Adobe Premiere Pro CC earlier on. But, with that regret set aside, I am happy to report that I have successfully learned the basics of our new system, which has allowed me to progress in my work with UTVS News, and create the story that I am about to discuss with you in this entry.

After packing up my camera equipment and making the trek up North to Duluth, I settled in to my boyfriend’s apartment, and prepared myself for the following day. I scheduled an interview with a man known as Iceman Roger for that Saturday, and was excited to meet him, once again! While on winter break, I spent a day helping out at WDIO-TV Eyewitness News in Duluth, shadowing reporter Baihly Warfield. When I arrived on that chilly Tuesday, I was excited to learn that we would be heading to Superior Wisconsin, just across the bridge from Duluth, to interview Iceman Roger about his Ice Project that he is creating once again in preparation for the Lake Superior Ice Festival. I had heard about Iceman Roger last winter while watching Eyewitness News, and was thrilled to have the chance to meet him, and find out all the details about his newest creation this year. The City of Superior asked Roger, originally from Big Lake Minnesota, to construct his ice sculptures for the City of Superior over the next three years. Using advanced technology, the retired computer engineer works countless hours programming and developing new technology systems that pump and spray water continuously on a structure that begins as a few poles and tents set up to structure the piece of work. Last year, Roger was working to set the World Record with his project, but to his dismay, the 60-foot mass of ice tumbled to the ground, never reaching the record setting height that he had anticipated. This year, Roger is back at it again, constructing a European Castle out of ice, using the same technology as before. What amazes me is that he develops everything by himself, and leaves his wife and family back home in Big Lake to spend the winter in Superior working on the project that he is so passionate about. His passion truly resonates on camera, and I am thankful that he was willing to speak with me once again for my report that aired on UTVS News this evening.

I was more excited about shooting and editing this story, because over the weekend, Justin was able to come with me during the interview, and had the chance to see just how I do my work, and how passionate I am about telling people’s stories to the public. I have had the chance to see him working with his class at Piedmont Elementary in Duluth, so it was fun to have him along for the ride as I conducted my interview with the Iceman, and shot video after.

Airing the Iceman Roger story on UTVS News. Photo by Brett Mensing

Ever since doing the story with Baihly Warfield for Eyewitness News, I have been keeping a close eye on the comments Roger is receiving on social media. These comments make me sad, because people are truly filled with courageous hate over the computer, and have said many hurtful and uncalled for things regarding the purpose of Rogers work. Getting paid to construct this by the City of Superior, many residents are unhappy with the way that their tourism dollars are being spent in the city, but they never seem to realize that this has nothing to do with him, and it truly is an issue that the Mayor of Superior should be considering. With that said, I wanted to focus on Roger himself, and his passion for turning his interest in geothermal technology into a hobby. And that I did with my story, creating a package that I personally feel told a great story of who Iceman Roger really is, and why he does what he does. This isn’t something that happens overnight, and the amount of time and dedication to this work amazes me. I loved telling Iceman Roger’s story, because he gave me hope and courage that even if people are hurtful and negative toward me in my career as a broadcast journalist one day, I will still work to be the best I can possibly be, and follow my dreams and aspirations in life. This is very important as I grow older, and get closer to developing a career in the public eye. Roger told me that he loves the attention and praise he receives from doing this project every year, but mostly enjoys putting his knowledge and dreams to use. I enjoyed doing this entry, because it allowed me to think deeper into the mind of Roger, and see that no matter what others say to try and bring me down one day, that I will prevail to become the best I can be in my life, and continue turning my passion into a profession.

Lights, Camera, Action! (and report!)

Once again, I am writing this entry to my blog late at night, due to an event that took place that I wanted to share. Tonight, I attended my 6th UTVS General Meeting in Stewart Hall. This is a meeting where all members and those who are interested in joining UTVS gather for a social hour, share a meal together, and are presented with a short explanation of all the programs that air on the UTVS channel. After the meeting, everyone is given the chance to try out for a talent position for UTVS News, which now airs Monday through Thursday at 5p.m. and 6p.m. I can still remember my first meeting, three years ago. My friend Emilio Ramos De Jesus ran into me at my apartment building where we both lived. He knew that I was attending St. Cloud State University for Mass Communications with a broadcasting emphasis. I was honored that Emilio invited me, so attended the meeting on that chilly fall night in 2013.

Flash forward to 2016, and I am auditioning once again to hold a talent position once again! Having the opportunity to be so involved with UTVS News over the past three years has been something I will always remember once I begin my career, and never forget as I move on to bigger and more intense obstacles in my career. As I prepared to try out this evening, a sense of calmness filled my body, a feeling that I have never felt while trying out. I told myself that whether or not I got a spot, that I can still be just as involved with UTVS News as I would be while anchoring.

Anchoring with Danielle Maroney, back in 2015. Photo by Lyanne Valdez

Nearly three hours after trying out, I received an email that included the attachment with final results regarding talent position for this spring semester. I was enthusiastic when reading the attachment! I was listed as an anchor for Thursday newscasts, alongside my friend and colleague Danielle Maroney. This will be the 4th semester that we have been anchoring together, and I don’t think I could be blessed with a better person to co-anchor with. We spend much time together outside of our Newsroom lives, so have what I believe to be a good chemistry together when we are on air. Danielle and I are both very passionate about what we do, so I enjoy working with her because we realize how hard things can be, but more importantly how much strength and courage it takes to produce and anchor a good newscast. I am excited to begin the new semester on Monday, January 25th. I will also be busy with reporting for UTVS News on Tuesday’s this semester, which I am excited to do as well!

Tonight on UTVS News…

As I prepare to begin a new week on this Sunday evening, I can’t help but think about what the weeks ahead will hold for my involvement with UTVS News on our campus. I have been involved with UTVS News since the fall of 2013, when I first attended SCSU as a freshman. I knew I wanted to come to St. Cloud for one reason, and one reason only; the hands-on learning experience that SCSU has to offer for Mass Communications majors with our real-life television equipment and studio to learn with. I toured UTVS during my campus orientation and tour day two months prior to moving in that fall. I was amazed by the equipment and guidance that I witnessed during my tour, and the profound list of alumni that was listed on the brochure I was handed by Derrick Silvestri, the TV Studio Manager and Advisor. Many of the names listed on the brochure were familiar, seeing them on the news back in the Northland from time-to-time. After my tour, I was very thrilled to begin a new adventure, and thoughts of working with the organization one day began filling my mind as we drove home.



Flash forward three years later, and I am a member of UTVS, and currently hold numerous positions under my belt that I have worked hard for, and earned with my dedication and trustworthiness to the organization. During my visit to UTVS News before moving to St. Cloud, I never imagined or believed that this student run organization would become such a large part in my life. I am extremely fortunate and thankful to have begun anchoring during my second semester at St. Cloud State and reporting over the past two semesters. I currently am the Managing Editor for UTVS News, working closely with our producers to ensure that each and every broadcast is unique and the best that it can possibly be, judging by my previous years of experience at UTVS, and my internship with WDIO in Duluth. I watch numerous news stations from across the Metro, and back up north in the Duluth area to learn new tricks and gain ideas that can be incorporated into our broadcasts right here in St. Cloud. I have a passion for what I am going to school for, and wake up every day with the hope of spreading that passion along to other talented students who I work with every day in our Newsroom. I plan to try out once again this semester for an anchor position, and am currently enrolled in the second reporting course that we are required to take. Each time I try out for an anchor position, I am filled with the same amount of adrenaline and nervousness that I experienced during my freshman year. The thrill is still in my blood, because I know just how competitive this career is in the real world.

I am very excited and full of anticipation for the new things that we want to try at UTVS this semester. After only having one broadcast per day (5:00p.m. broadcast) last semester, we at UTVS are thankful to be bringing back out 6:00p.m. show after realizing that one just wasn’t enough after all of the hard work and dedication that we put into each show as a team. I get to work with some of the coolest people at UTVS, and we all have one thing in common which happens to be story telling, and being public servants to our community.

Reporting is one of my biggest passions in life, and something that I am thrilled to continue doing with UTVS News once again over the next four months. I enjoy getting out in the Granite City and surrounding communities, and sharing the stories of people and places that have messages to be heard across the region. Every day that I wake up and prepare to head in to the Newsroom, sunshine brushes across my face, and paints a smile inside and out.

Eastyn Rayce

Today I am thinking a lot about the past, three years, and how lucky I am to be an Uncle to one of the sweetest little dudes I know. I have one brother, whom happens to be 13 years older than myself. The age difference has never really affected our relationship as siblings. Brandon has been married to my sister-in-law Heather for the past eight years, and I love her dearly. She is a very smart, caring, quiet and loving person. My brother and his wife have been together since high school, and love each other very much. They have always wanted to have a family, but as many couples experience, the difficulty to conceive their own child was always a struggle.

Three years ago, after trying multiple years to become parents the natural way and also filling out endless adoption papers after giving up hope to have one of their own, Brandon and Heather surprised our family with the best news of all, they were expecting a baby! I could not contain my excitement over the next nine months, buying clothes and toys for the little baby boy that I would meet in just a short amount of time. Little did I know that this little baby boy would change my life so much.

Eastyn Rayce Goutermont was born on September 12, 2012. I will never forget driving down with my parents to meet him for the first time at the hospital in Duluth. My Mom and I cried the over the one hour drive, filled with excitement and happy emotions, thanking God for the miracle that finally arrived into our quaint little family. Holding the small little miracle in my arms for the first time brought tears to my eyes, as I began to imagine a future with this little guy. Babies are born every day, but it truly meant more to our family, because we didn’t know if my brother and his wife would ever be able to have their own children, and the reality had finally set in.

Over the past three years, being an Uncle has changed who I am as a person, and allowed me to show who I truly am and make myself a better person. Being nearly four hours away from him while in school isn’t easy some days, and that is why I chose to write about this story today in my blog. I think a lot about my family as I finish my weeks, and slide into the weekends. We are fortunate to have technology at the touch of our fingertips in today’s world, and that has proven to be a wonderful perk in my life. I try to FaceTime with my nephew as much as I can. Recently, he has become more emotionally attached to many of us in the family, and loves to chat with me, even over the computer. Although his attention span is smaller than a puppy’s, he likes to say hello to me, and tell me about his toys and what he has been doing in his everyday life. I cherish every minute that I get to spend with the little dude, and always will as we both continue to grow. Eastyn has one other Uncle, and I find myself in competition with him for the Best Uncle award! Over the winter break, I was thankful to spend a lot of time with him, having a sleepover at my parents, sledding down our big hill, and opening presents over the Christmas holiday. It is hard for me to believe just how quickly he has changed and grown over the past three years. I am excited to graduate college, and hopefully find a job in Duluth, so I am closer to him as he begins school, and becomes involved with activities and friends. This post has helped me with my emotions today, as I sit and think about the little bundle of joy that came into my life three years ago! I hope  you enjoy this insight into my life!

Beginning a New Chapter

To begin my blog, I want to discuss something that recently began to blaze over the Holiday break, but truly sparked nearly three months prior. Back in September, my iPhone buzzed with a new notification from my Facebook app. Glancing down quickly, I noticed it was a friend request, but not from anyone that was familiar in my life. Now with all flashiness and egotistic thoughts set aside, I am a nice, kind person that happens to work in the public service industry (television broadcast with UTVS News) and tend to get new friend requests from time to time from folks that I don’t personally know. Let me move on with a little kindling background information about myself before we set fire to the rain. I am in my Junior Year at St. Cloud State University working toward my undergraduate degree in Mass Communications with emphasis in broadcasting, 20 years old, and a proud member of the LGBT community. With the most important sticks laid out and ready to spark a flame, we can now get to the part about me settling into the present moment.

Over the past year, I have been a single guy, working to strengthen myself as a strong independent person, and enjoying life one day at a time while setting long-term goals. However, my relationship status quickly changed during the week of December 22. Back to the result of the Facebook friend request that you have probably been wondering about since previously discussed. Well, I accepted, and began talking to Mr. Justin Chumich. He seemed like a very handsome man, living in Duluth Minnesota (one hour away from my hometown of Silver Bay Minnesota), teaching kindergarten and enjoying life with wonderful friends and family. We began small chatting, asking about how we both were doing, and extending the conversation to a few flirtatious messages back and forth. However, as quick as the conversation sparked up, it was extinguished like a candle trying to survive in the wind. For the next three/four months, I did not communicate back and forth with Justin. Not having the faith in myself to commit to someone at the time, I stayed singe, and unhappy with that status once again as the holiday season began to shine so bright.

First photo with Justin, after becoming “official!” Taken by Brett Mensing

With the semester wrapping up, and finals coming to an end, I had many hours of free time to check my social media applications. As I was scrolling through one fine day, I noticed a picture that was posted of this Justin Chumich guy once again. Being an avid dog lover, I was immediately drawn to the image of Justin sleeping peacefully on a black leather couch with a Pitbull puppy on his chest. This image has been the spark of a new beginning, and a dog that will go down in history as my new relationship begins to shine bright inthe present.

The photo of Justin that sparked my interest! Taken by Megan Polling

Since seeing the image and messaging Justin back with a flirtatious chat about loving dogs, and how cute the picture was, we have been chatting and spending time together for the past four weeks. Justin recently asked me to be his boyfriend on January 11th, 2016. With tear filled eyes, I graciously accepted his offer, looking forward to the commitment and fun to be had as we continue to spend time together, day-by-day. Throughout my blog, I will continue to discuss bits and pieces of this new adventure, but must sign off for now, as I continue to settle in to the present moment.