Category: Diversity

Jay’s Story

Jay Shin, 20, is from Cleveland, Tennessee. Even with Cerebral Palsy, he lives a normal
life with an amazing support system. He was raised by his mom, Soonja Shin, and two sisters, Yoori Shin and Meeri Shin. He attends Cleveland State Community College where he studies Mechatronics. He also attends Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church in Collegedale where he has a great community around him. Cerebral Palsy affects Jay physically and some mentally, but he doesn’t let his disability define him.


Meet the Storytellers

Marielle Echavez

Marielle Echavez is a junior pursuing a degree in Communication and a minor in Psychology. She manages her own branch of custom apparel on campus. She has a passion for videography and being creative. She plans to pursue video production post-graduation. Contact her at

Collecting Stories of Chattanooga

Story Corps preserves human history through the oral storytelling of its participants. With a travel trailer converted into a recording studio, Story Corps road trips to 10 cities around the country to record and broadcast the stories of local residents. This year, Story Corps has partnered with WUTC to showcase the untold histories of Chattanooga. Participants can tell anystory they want, and it can be told alone or with a partner.

Jacqueline Van Meter, Story Corps mobile tour manager, is the only staff member who travelswith the trailer full time. Van Meter facilitates the interview process with participants, and she also supervises the other staff members who come on and off the road to work with participants, she said.

“We’re kind of creating this democratized oral history collection,” Van Meter said. “We’re putting the documentation of the people’s history into the hands of the people themselves talking about it in the way that means the most to them.”

Participants can come up with their own questions to ask their partner or they can utilize the question cards provided by Story Corps. The recording sessions last for 40 uninterrupted minutes. Once the session ends, participants can choose to keep their recordings private or they can allow them to be aired on WUTC. The public recordings are archived at the Library of Congress.

“We think that listening is an act of love,” Van Meter said. “The experience of being asked
questions about your own life can be a really empowering experience especially for people who have walked through life feeling like their stories didn’t matter or they didn’t have a story to tell.”

Will Davis, outreach manager and producer at WUTC, prompted Story Corps to partner with the station knowing the impact it could have on the community. Story Corps was immediately interested in coming to Chattanooga when Davis contacted them, he said.

“I was really prepared to be like okay, these are the hundred reasons why you should come
here, but it never came to that,” Davis said.

Around 100 to 150 interviews will be recorded and shared with the station for broadcast, Davis said.

“That’s a ton of content,” Davis said. “Professionally recorded, professionally facilitated. That’s huge for the station, so it’s great PR, but it’s also a lot of content. That’s the reason I wanted to do it.”

The travel trailer is parked beside Miller Park on E MLK Blvd. The recording process will take place from March 19 to April 17. Those who wish to sign-up can do so through the Story Corps website. There is currently a waitlist, but participants can still secure a spot by signing up for it.

WUTC Brings StoryCorps to Chattanooga

As the outreach manager for WUTC, Will Davis, has worked the past eighteen months
since moving here to bring StoryCorps to Chattanooga. He was surprised to find out that they had never been to his new home and immediately knew he wanted to make it happen.

StoryCorps will do over 150 stories while in town which are available to WUTC to use
for future projects. Many of the stories the people of Chattanooga have told share common themes of the city changing and the celebration of it.

All of the slots to sit down and talk have been filled and there is a waiting list that Davis
encourages others to sign up for, but he says that he hasn’t decided if he will sit down himself. He has put months of work into this project and has numerous ideas of what he will use the stories for in the future. Even if he decides not to sit down in the airstream for a recorded talk his impression on Chattanooga through WUTC and StoryCorps coming together will last forever.

Meet the Storytellers

Elian Richter

Elian Richter works as a photojournalist and action photographer. He has experience covering events such as USA Boxing qualifiers and Presidential arrivals on Air Force One. Elian has had works published on Rising Rock Media and the UTC Echo. In his free time, Elian enjoys rock climbing and being outdoors. Contact Elian Richter at

Justin Metcalf

Justin Metcalf is a junior at UTC who studies communication and psychology. Justin enjoys writing for the university newspaper, and their favorite pastime involves curling up with a warm tea and watching horror movies. They hope to continue their education in psychology and become a counselor for LGBTQ youth.

Max Hanson

Max Hanson is a videographer and video editor pursuing a degree in communication at UTC. He has experience in live broadcast, news media, and has extensive work in short films. His passions are in vintage camera equipment, science, and the more bizarre stories in the world.

McKenzie Scott

McKenzie Scott is a junior at UTC studying communication with a minor in women’s studies. She is a writer for rising rock and has experience with telling stories through photos. She is passionate about volunteering in her community and recently rescued a dog named Hank. Contact her at


Abomination to Advocation

Reverend Alaina Cobb has experienced hate from a young age due to her identity. After seeing what the culture she was raised in looked like, she knew she had to do something. Her activism grows from her experiences growing up, but mostly from her children, fueling her to fight for others and their ability to be “fully human.”  As a mother, as a reverend, and as a fighter, Alaina Cobb is changing the world around her.

Meet the Storytellers

Allie Schrenker

Allie Schrenker is a committed athlete majoring in Communication and Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with plans to graduate in May 2019. She is an international rugby player and an editor for UTC’s literary journal. She is currently pursuing a career in photojournalism and can be reached at


Samantha Sargent

Samantha Sargent is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Originally from Memphis, TN, she came to Chattanooga to study Communication and Sociology. Sargent wishes to use this degree to pursue a career in digital media. Contact her at

Princess Petrus

Princess Petrus is a junior at UT Chattanooga studying Communication and Spanish. She enjoys photojournalism and uses her skill to convey social problems through visual images. Petrus has a passion for learning other people’s stories and aims to connect with those around her. Contact her at rkt446@mocs.utc.


Katie Raabe

Katie Raabe is a Communication major and International Studies minor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga planning to graduate in May 2019. With a focus in Creative Writing, Katie is passionate about people and telling their stories in expressive and visual forms. Contact her at



Barber Kings – Chattanooga One Snip at a Time


Chris Palmer edges a clients hair on September 10, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

Barber Kings, a well-known barber shop on MLK Boulevard in Chattanooga, Tenn., creates a space where area neighborhoods find community.

Established in 2013 by owner Victor Bronson, Barber Kings has been a place where the people of the MLK Neighborhood Association frequent on a daily basis.

Not only can people walk in to receive a professional cut or shave from one of their barbers, they can also come in to spend hours of time with their neighbors.




According to Master Barber Chris Palmer, Barber Kings is a place to not only receive a good haircut, but also a good conversation. By growing up spending time in barber shops himself, Palmer understands the effect a barber shop can have on people.

“As a kid, going to the barber shop was like going on a field trip. It was a place to sit and listen, to have conversations with the barber and the people who lived in this community,” Palmer said.  

By having a personal experience and understanding of the effects a barber shop can have on someone, Palmer and the other barbers work hard to make this shop a place for community.

Messiah waits for a haircut at Barber Kings on Martin Luther King Boulevard on September 8, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

“We try to make this a place where boys can learn how to become young men,” Palmer said, “We want to be there to help mentor the children that come and sit in our chairs.”

Even with all of their passion for their work and the people they encounter, Barber Kings recently changed locations due to the gentrification of MLK Boulevard.

The landscape of MLK and the neighborhood has drastically changed over the years. What used to be a street made up of predominantly black business owners has been flooded with people from the nearby neighborhoods and has changed to appeal and conform to a younger, middle-class taste.


Terrance Bragg cuts a client’s hair at Barber Kings on Martin Luther King Blvd on September 8, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

These changes have allowed new shops, bars and restaurants to open up along MLK Boulevard as well as allow more college students, tourists and locals enjoy what this part of Chattanooga has to offer. The new businesses like OddStory Brewing Company, 2 Sons Kitchen and Market, Hutton & Smith Brewing, and The Camp House to name a few, fall under the category of change on this street. Unfortunately, because of this change, Barber Kings could no longer stay in their previous location on MLK.

With these changes, Barber Kings had to face the choice of leaving a neighborhood they had spent years building a community with or work hard to stay and continue being involved with their neighborhood.

The shop ended up remaining on MLK, but changing locations to a little ways down the road. Barber Kings is currently located next door to Hutton & Smith Brewing and across the street from Champy’s Restaurant at 517 East Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Terrance Bragg shaves his face with a straight edge razor on September 10, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

Having been around this community for many years, the barbers have seen shops come and go. They are aware of these changes, but they are prepared to face them together and adapt how they see fit.

“I know lots of families who have moved out of this neighborhood. They talk about the way things used to be around here, how it made them strong,” Palmer said.

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Terrance Bragg finishes a clients hair September 6th, 2018. Jessica Boggs

By seeing other businesses let these changes move them out, Palmer and the shop understand how different this neighborhood used to be. However, it is also important to them to be a part of this newly formed community inhabiting the neighborhood.

The Barber kings staff cut clients hair on September 7, 2018 (Photo by Troy Stolt).

“These are the streets that musicians like Bessie Smith and James Brown used to roam. As this neighborhood experiences a shift from gentrification, it’s important to us to be an example for other ethnic owned businesses in this community. We don’t want to lose that history,” Palmer said.

Barber Kings is a business that does not let gentrification force them out of a place they call home. These barbers and this company represent strength, community and history in an important part of the city of Chattanooga.



Meet the Storytellers:


Troy Stolt

Troy Stolt is a student photojournalist based out of Chattanooga Tennessee, where he is the photo editor of the UTC student newspaper, the University Echo, he has experience covering news, sports, in the creation of multimedia, studio portraits as well as making featured photos. His work has also been published University relations,, and the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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Abigail Frazier

Abigail Frazier is a senior communications major at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She works for the student newspaper, The University Echo, as the News Editor. Frazier hopes to pursue print journalism or an online publication in News Media.



Jessica Boggs

Jessica Boggs, Senior at UTC, is pursuing a degree in Communication and minoring in International Relations. She is an experienced international photojournalist as well as feature photographer for The Echo. Jessica is passionate about speaking for those without a voice through the lens of a camera.




Copyright 2018, Rising Rock Media, all rights reserved.




Small Battles

Cameron Mulienberg’s perspective on striving for inclusivity in Highland Park.

About the Storyteller

Small Battles was created by Kristjan Grimson. This multi-media piece was made in COMM 4750, Photojournalism 2, during the Fall 2017 semester. In December 2017, he received his B.A in Communication from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Invitation Only: Black Girl in a White World

JJ Dunigan is a senior at GPS.
JJ Dunigan is a senior at GPS. (Photo by Erica Roberts)

Girls Preparatory School, also known as GPS, is an all-girls private school in Chattanooga Tennessee. Since GPS is a private school, students must pay a tuition in order to enroll in the school. GPS girls are typically stereotyped using two characteristics: caucasian and wealthy. What does it look like to go to a school where you do not fit those stereotypes?

Continue reading “Invitation Only: Black Girl in a White World”