BACKGROUND: I had great luck during my senior year of college to take a writing class taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jacqui Banaszynski. Many MU journalism students were in struck by Banazynski's invigorating peps talks before and after they got into the program. Needless to say, I felt pretty lucky to enroll on her Intermediate Writing class.
The class was - unsurprisingly - challenging. Banaszynski forced students to look for intriguing feature stories that could be published. Even though I wasn't terribly experienced with writing about the University of Missouri, I pitched to write a profile of Elson Floyd, the president of the University of Missouri system. The result was my final story before graduating college - The Floyd Factor.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: I certainly don't know the opinions of everybody who went to the University of Missouri-Columbia from 2002 to 2006. But I found through unscientific observations that students liked Floyd. He was charismatic and relatively accessible. Some students even called him "E Flo," as if he was some supernatural being who came to lead Tiger Nation.
But it was soon apparent to me that Floyd also ran into some serious obstacles. His bid to incorporate Northwestern Missouri State University into the UM system was a flop. He and his family also became entangled in a bizarre basketball scandal. And he often had to dip his toe in the often-treacherous waters of Jefferson City politics.
By 2007, he was gone. Washington State University snatched Floyd as its president. But in any case, I was happy I was able to use Banaszynski's tutelage to get a better sense of what made Floyd tick.
FUN FACT: I don't really have much in common with Floyd. But a lot of my friends call me "J-Bomb." Does that count?