Kissinger is in residence this academic year at the Diederich College of Communication and collaborating with Marquette University students as she pursues a series of investigative and explanatory stories focusing on mental health. My Digital Journalism II students had been assigned to review Kissinger's impressive "Imminent Danger" package for the Journal Sentinel – as well as these two stories: "Can Adult Siblings Connect When Mental Illness is Part of Mix" and "At Death's Door, But Living Life to the Fullest" – before her class visit on October 24.
Nearly all of the 16 students wrote their assigned weekly blog posts about what Kissinger revealed about her life, family and career while sitting at the conference table with them and chatting for more than an hour. "Let me just say this: I love Meg Kissinger," began the post by Monique Collins, one of three students who shared how mental health or a serious medical condition has touched their own families. "Meg Kissinger could have spoken to our class for another two hours and I don't think anyone in the room would have complained," Alexandra Whittaker wrote.
"What really struck me about Kissinger was her positive energy," Stephanie Graham offered. David Tukesbrey wrote in his post: "She's somebody that all journalists can aspire to be. When she sits down and talks to you, she looks you in the eye. Although she's a great journalist, more importantly she's a great person." Students also described Kissinger as vibrant, charming, witty, personable, funny, knowledgable, smart, hardworking and passionate.
Caitlin Miller echoed everyone in the class when she wrote that "I am really excited" about the course's final project – in which Kissinger and I aim to dispatch them as teams of two into Milwaukee County to interview people who impact or are impacted by mental health: advocate, family member, judge/court commissioner, nurse, patient, police officer, psychiatrist and social worker. The projects will be similar to those the class are producing for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service this fall. If all goes well, the Journal Sentinel will publish the mental health projects.