Kevin Foster Cox

Kevin Foster Cox

Student Success Stories

Melissa Alexander got a TV job without any help from me. But I'll take the credit for making her newsroom-ready. One of rewarding parts about teaching is following the careers of your former students, then pestering them for bios. With the Internet, it wasn't hard to find Melissa. Plus, you gotta like the way she used an internship to get started on her career. [Top]

Nasreen Atassi had already graduated from San Francisco State when she took Journalism 200 from me during the fall 2008 semester. Contact her on Facebook. Her culminating assignment in the class made the cover of San Diego Reader. You'll find the link below the pirate flag, one column over. Enjoy her article, which display her delightful sense of humor, and that killer narrative voice. [Top]

Peter Beck took what he learned in my journalism class and moved to Hollywood. He's already the award-winning production designer for "In Velvet," directed by Joseph Bolten in 2008. Contacts are important in the movie industry and you can find Peter on Facebook. He shows how he's adapted his writing style for a career that doesn't include traditional reporting for a news outlet. [Top]

Lexi Bondar has a very sarcastic wit, on full display in her writing. I'd say it's almost a survival skill for aspiring journalists in today's marketplace. Networking is also crucial. So Lexi has extra contact information: Facebook, MySpace or San Francisco State University. Like everybody else on my list of former students, Lexi has the agility that's needed in a rapidly changing media marketplace. [Top]

Evan Bradshaw had a can't-miss idea for a cover story in the Reader: his life as a professional gamer. Find his article listed in the column to the right. If you're interested in hearing more about his experiences, contact Evan on Facebook. He's still working in the gaming industry, which makes him the ongoing insider. [Top]

Siobhan Braun is easily my most accomplished writer, with 13 Reader covers in three years. Her first one is in the column to the right, under the pirate flag. Siobhan's style has a certain jaded Midwestern charm, which she uses to full effect in her narratives. Siobhan wrote another story for the Reader when she left my my journalism class, plus her second, third, fourth and fifth covers. Her latest feat is eight covers in eight months! Here are her sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelveth and thirteenth stories out front. I've edited about half of the drafts before publication, but Siobhan doesn't need my help to find and shape commercially viable narratives. I marvel at her talent, along with the rest of San Diego. Contact her on Facebook and check out her blog, which is more proof of her passion to create. [Top]

David Burleson is working toward a career in public radio, and he's off to a sensational start. Check out his cover story in the Reader, one column over. David creates those cinematic moments with his narrative voice. His writing style is reminiscent of The Los Angeles Diaries, but the best part is that he's not finished with his story. We look forward to new installments. [Top]

Adam Case is one of my most dedicated former students. When his culminating assignment in my journalism class wasn't published by the Reader, did he give up? No. Adam kept at it, visiting me during office hours and working up another story. That one got rejected, too. Did he quit? Hell, no. On his third attempt, he made a sale. Read Adam's cover. His work has also appeared In These Times, a national publication. Contact Adam on MySpace to learn more about his fascinating travels. [Top]

Remington Cox wants to be a travel writer, and he's producing more content. Even though he's my kid, I can objectively evaluate his work. His Reader story (one column to the right) is pretty good, and he's been out doing more creative non-fiction from the road, plus recording his own songs and using them to make music videos. Check out his website. The kid has potential. [Top]

Cammy Duong took full advantage of my journalism class, even though she doesn't want to be a reporter. She got all the required work done early, so we used the extra time during writing workshops to revise her curriculum vitae and a cover letter. Contact her on Facebook. As a marketing professional, she's got her pitch ready. [Top]

Shiva Hanifi is another former student who applied her journalism skills to a career outside the mainstream media. Contact Shiva on Facebook. She's redirected herself to the entertainment industry. She's an inspiration to those who don't want to be reporters and may wonder about the relevance of my class. [Top]

David Krueger brought his skills as a professional woodworker to my journalism class: muscling bulky paragraphs, sanding unnecessary words and polishing prose for a brilliant finish. The result was a published article in the Reader, one column over. Dave is a non-traditional student with a story to tell, because he knows what it’s like to work for a living. Find him on Facebook. [Top]

Megan Looney really paid attention in my journalism class. Not only did she score an internship at a magazine, but her culminating assignment in Journalism 200 won a big award. Read the article, entitled Women: Fighting Back on the Field and in the Courtroom. Not bad for one semester. Contact Megan on Facebook. She is another one of my former students with a distinctive narrative voice and a growing list of accomplishments. [Top]

Erica Malouf is one of my former students who already had an undergraduate degree when she took my class. I still managed to teach her something about journalism. Her culminating assignment for J200 was published in the March 12, 2009 issue of San Diego Weekly Reader. Contact her on Linkedin. Her career history, wich includes 20th Century Fox, is typical of the wide range of experience that my former students have. [Top]

Tijana Martinovic's life should be made into a movie. Describing herself as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia only hints at what's contained in the rest of her incredible biography. To get more details or just say hello, contact her on Linkedin or read her upcoming memoir. She'll have to finish law school first, but I'm urging her to write that book. [Top]

Mary Montgomery was an excellent student. She didn't need my help to launch a promising career. But I'll take credit for all the good things she's done. Her Reader article is listed in the column to the right. Contact her on MySpace. She's another former student who adapted her journalism skills for a career in PR. [Top]

Richard McKeethen was a refugee from the hi-tech industry when he took the second journalism class I ever taught during the Fall 2002 semester. You can find him on Linkedin. Richard offers a unique perspective; he has a journalism degree from San Francisco State, but decided not to become a reporter. [Top]

Jeff Nau proved one of my favorite theories: stories written for my journalism class, which based on verifiable facts, should also incorporate the indelible descriptive writing style and vivid dialogue of great fiction. Jeff entered his culminating assignment in my J200 class in a creative-writing contest and won an award. So, he wrote non-fiction, which all the limitations represented by those stubborn facts, and competed successfully with the fiction writers. That's an indication of his tremendous talent. At UCLA, he wrote another award-winner. [Top]

Laurence Neal bopped over from UCSD to take my journalism class at Mesa. He went back to, ahem, the university with a cover story in the Reader. Smart lad. Not boasting or anything, but is there any other college course in San Diego with this level of accomplishment in the real world? Hmmm? [Top]

Justin Nevling is one of my favorite former students. Of course, professors aren't supposed to say such things, and I would strenuously deny it (oh, there's evidence, in writing? Never mind). Justin is a non-traditional student, which means he had to survive some heavy turbulence before he took my class. That's why his narrative is so good. [Top]

Holly Newton took one of my classes during her first semester in college. While I could have irreparably damaged her academic career, it seems I had the opposite effect. Holly also introduced me to a networking Web site. Contact her on Linkedin. Holly's is yet another example of how to use my journalism class for a career outside of a traditional newsroom. [Top]

Kayla Nicolais survived my first intersession course--a four-week torture session that crammed an entire semester into the month of January. She's another former student who didn't pursue a traditional reporting career. She's a big-time PR operator on the East Coast. I wish I could take all the credit for Kayla's success, but I just got her started. [Top]

Casey Pratt was destined for the big time. It's no surprise that he became a TV producer in San Francisco, one of the country's largest markets. He's covering his favorite team, the Oakland Athletics. [Top]

Mark Priceman is another former student who used my journalism class to break into the media. I lost track of him until I listened to a Chargers game on Rock 105.3 and one of the announcers thanked Mark for working on the broadcast. How cool is that? Now, Mark is connected via Linkedin. He's got another radio job, but he went national this time. [Top]

Hayley Rafner has two covers in the Reader. The first is one column over. That was her culminating assignment in my journalism class. I helped her with the second cover, but can't take as much credit for that one, so it's listed here. Hayley is precisely the kind of motivated student that thrives in my journalism class. Contact her on Facebook. [Top]

Taylor Restaino scored a cover in the Reader with a story about her life. Find the article one column over to the right. If you've already read it, you know it wasn't just any personal narrative. If you want to know more about her experiences, contact Taylor on Facebook. I can't wait to see what she writes next. [Top]

Victor Rice is an elusive character. I have his phone number, which I won't be broadcasting in cyberspace. If you want to contact him, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Victor brings a little mystery to the proceedings, which is a very good thing. If you haven't found his cover story in the Reader, check out the column on the right. [Top]

Heather Secrist is another survivor of my first intersession course. The worst part is, she didn't get to apply the credits from the class to her degree at San Diego State. But Heather knows about networking. Contact her on Linkedin. She also knows a lot about the media game, currently competing in New York City. [Top]

Esmeralda Servin wanted to intern at a San Diego television station, but management was so impressed that she got hired instead. She was working there before she graduated from San Diego State. With that kind of talent, it wasn't long before she went national. When I freelance for Inside Edition, she's often my boss for the day. I couldn't be happier about that. Contact her on MySpace. [Top]

Sue Spann used my journalism class as a way to start over. As much as any other student, she seized the tremendous opportunity that I offer to all my writers. Decide for yourself whether she realized her potential by reading her story, one column over. I'd say she exceeded all expectations. The cover photograph is the ultimate compliment to her talent. [Top]

Rebecca Steinberg was already an accomplished voiceover talent and singer when she took my class. I just needed to get out of her way. She's based in Germany, providing some international flair to the list. She has a Web site which promotes promoting her singing, unfortunately only in German. She's also listed on a voice-over agency Web site. [Top]

Charlie Trottier is way too modest about her talents. She's living the California dream while deciding on which law school to attend. Here's her Facebook page. One other thing: she's a very big hockey fan. [Top]

Brianna Van Ness entered her story in a writing contest at Mesa, while waiting for the Reader to respond to her submission (it only took six months). She won. Congrats to Brianna for putting herself out there, and securing further validation that she is a talented storyteller. To read her excellent narrative, go one column to the right and find it under the pirate flag. [Top]

Brana Vlasic is another former student whose humility might fool you (hint: don't expect to win any points playing table tennis with her). She wrote a cover story for the Reader about her amazing life. You'll find the link under the pirate flag, one column over. Once again, we celebrate diversity in my journalism class through narratives such as hers. Here's her Facebook page. [Top]

Cynthia Washington took my journalism class during the dreaded summer session.  Actually, it’s perfect for motivated students, and Cynthia certainly belongs in that category. Her Reader story is under the Jolly Roger, one column over. She has big plans for a future career in the media and she’s already accumulating work experience. Here's a link to contact her on Facebook. [Top]

Cameron Westfall might be a familiar name to many former students. He took my class during the Spring 2005 semester, then replaced Jason Austell as the midterm speaker. Cameron brought his keyboard right into K302 and performed for the class. He graduated from San Diego State in the spring of 2007 and put his comm degree (emphasis in advertising) to good use. He's on Facebook. [Top]

Kristin Wood was another can't-miss journalism student. Here's proof of her skill at networking and marketing--check out her Linkedin profile. She created a lot of valuable opportunities for herself in San Diego, which led to a big break with Disney. [Top]

Maggie Young is using her extraordinary narrative voice to write a memoir. I can get you in touch with Maggie, if you wish. She also had internships at Inside Edition and CNN, plus a TV station in San Francisco. Following her graduation from UC Berkeley, she's working on her book. [Top]


Hoist the Jolly Roger


Since May 2008, 17 cover stories in San Diego Reader came out of my classroom, plus seven other articles on the inside pages. That's a pretty impressive stretch, roughly one publishing credit every three months or so.

Virtually all of these manuscripts (23 out of 24) were written as culminating assignments in my introductory newswriting and reporting course at Mesa College. These are stupendous accomplishments, the journalistic equivalent of amateur card players heading off to Vegas--or at least an Indian casino--and winning poker tournaments.

I also had some involvement in other work that was published by former students in the Reader. But I can't take full credit for editing and shaping those projects, so they're not listed in this section. You'll find them one column over, with the links embedded in the authors' bios.

Alyssa A'Bell is my latest cover girl. Why are most of my published writers female? Chicks rule, that's why. Alyssa's story is a postmodern narrative that is delightfully quirky. I remember editing her manuscript and wondering if I should attempt to impose some sort of structure on her work. What, and crush her spirit? Who cares if she doesn't conform to any of the traditional rules? Anyway, it's always better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission. Alyssa's ending alone is worth the read.

Jessica Swenke brings a little noir to the proceedings. Her cover is definitely not light. Jessica's narrative chronicles her best friend's descent into drugs and prostitution. It's a story that only Jessica could have written. Sounds simple, but she and all of my other students listed in this column have created tension and complexity that are far beyond community college standards--they're professional grade. Basically, Jessica's article is a helluva read (ignore the haters who posted those ridiculous comments at the end).

Rashida McElvene's cover is epic. Some of my students succeed with narratives that explore ethnicity, but Rashida also scores with a true-crime angle to her story. She combines both elements for a tribute to her family and the power of the human spirit. I'm a confirmed cynic, but I get a little idealistic when I think about Rashida's article. I've told her this before, and I'll keep saying it: how I wish I could have met her grandmother.

Christian Rodas' story offered up an insider's tour of the health care industry. The consultants who infest local TV newsrooms have a saying: take me somewhere and show me something. As much as I loathed those dudes, in their suspenders and slicked-back hair, they were right. That's what Christian and so many of my other students are doing, and the Reader is publishing their work.

Here is a cover by Brianna Van Ness. At more than 4,000 words, it is a monster. But the narrative is so compelling, you won't be able to resist it. Read the first few paragraphs and see if I'm right. Like so many other students, Brianna writes about the subject she knows best: herself.

Justin Nevling's cover is next. So many of my students have such amazing life experiences that translate naturally to print. Justin already had witnessed the cratering of his career in the wireless industry (think mall kiosks) when he took my class at Mesa. Sounds like a promising Reader narrative already.

Hayley Rafner had a can’t-miss Reader cover story about Hollywood.  She’ll remember the day in Journalism 200 when we laid out about 20 pages of her text, representing two completely different narrative threads.  I wove them together.  The result is another publishing success in my class. 

Laurence Neal’s idea was also a winner: abandoning a proud military tradition in his family to become a surf rat in San Diego, with party weekends back home in Las Vegas.  This kind of tension is a consistent element in Reader stories written by my students.  His cover continues that trend.

An article by Cynthia Washington follows a format employed by other successful students: intensely personal reflection on the forces that forge character. By showcasing her family, Cynthia has portrayed the dynamic that has ultimately defined her. The ability to articulate your own story is an invaluable skill and she is already using it to secure other media-related gigs.

David Krueger brings a blue-collar perspective to the proceedings.  His story celebrates the working man, who got hammered by the recession. Dave’s determination to make a living—captured in some rather vivid scenes from the job site—offers a different perspective from the work of other students. That’s what a little real-life experience does for a writer.

Remington Cox published his story in the Reader. Among other things, it's a glorious recounting of how a 19-year-old spent his parents' money overseas. Remy took my class and got the same harsh editing as the rest of my students, even though he's my son. At one point, he disageed with my suggested revision and asked, "What are you, some kind of magician?" That's exactly what I am, dear boy. I make published stories appear in San Diego's alternative weekly.

The cover story by Sue Spann is a remarkable narrative. At almost 4,100 words, it's longer than most of the other articles listed below. But Sue's quiet determination propels the story to its satisfying conclusion. Perseverance. Dignity. Bravo.

David Burleson's cover story is next. I dare you to close the link before you're finished. That's how gripping this article is. Spoiler alert: our hero survives. This is another narrative of hope and redemption in the 4,000-word range. But neither Sue nor David's story reads like it.

Brana Vlasic's cover story in the Reader is a remarkable narrative. It combines tales from her Serbian childhood with the sport of table tennis and a legendary coach. I've actually volleyed with Brana. Yeah, like a mouse volleys with a cat. I'm even more awed by her talent, as an athlete and a writer. Don't miss her story.

Maecel Rejas' cover story is a delightful exploration of her Filipino culture, though you wouldn't know it by reading the comments that are posted at the end of the story. Don't these people have anything better to do? They're frightening. Enjoy Maecel's work and don't pay attention to the whiners. Actually, real journalists love those who hyperventilate on our behalf, because it just draws more attention to our work.

Chelsey Tobiason's hilarious account of her hippie childhood resulted in a published article. The Reader inexplicably chose a model to pose for the photo that accompanies the story. Pity. Chelsey is much more attractive. But she'll take the cash and the byline.

From the first day of class, Taylor Restaino knew what her topic would be--a vivid first-person narrative about her near-death experience. She worked hard to produce a great article in the Reader. Here's her cover story.

Evan Bradshaw also had a killer story in the Reader. He actually dies in his narrative, but it's just a video game. His cover story is an insider's account of living large on the pro circuit for electronic athletes. Another great first-person account.

Siobhan Braun also scored the cover in the Reader. Her writing style is reminiscent of the bildungsroman, a German word I learned in grad school. Please excuse the indulgence, since that MA cost me a lot of time and money.

Victor Rice has a street-savvy voice and a powerful narrative. That combination resulted in a cover story in the Reader for this former student. Editors (including professors) should simply get out of his way.

Nasreen Atassi is simply brilliant. Her cover story in the Reader reflects the execution of a very simple idea. She uses her very distinctive narrative voice to reveal the rich complexity of her life.

Here's an article about marbles in the Reader by a former student. Erica Malouf demonstrates how incorporating larger themes and ideas, plus a great voice, results in publication. Note that this article uses the more traditional third-person narrative. This will delight the journalistic purists.

Another former student, Maggie Young, has earned her own pirate flag. A story she wrote for my introductory journalism class made the cover. Her incredibly rich autobiography kicked off our run on the front page.

Three months after her big score, Maggie published another article. Even though she was a former student while finishing the second story, she visited me during office hours for editing and shaping of her work. Check out her second story in the Reader.

Mary Montgomery's article was the second to be published from my class. The first happened before the Reader started its electronic archives, so that story is lost to the landfills.

But Mary has achieved Internet immortality. This story is a celebration of another era in San Diego, and her family's involvement in the fishing industry that once dominated the waterfront. Mary may expand this narrative into a memoir, and I think it has that kind of potential.

These two earliest narratives are not included in the totals above, because they were isolated incidents--precursors to our current hot streak.




February 27, 2013