Grant Schulte’s mother is convinced he has a bed stashed away in The Daily Iowan newsroom.
Recently recognized as one of the top 10 college journalists in the country by the Scripps Howard Foundation, Schulte balances a 3.6 grade-point average, a double major in German and journalism, and a full-time job at the University’s award-winning student-run newspaper.
In his spare time, which is rare, the 21-year-old licensed pilot follows presidential politics and plays the occasional pick-up game of basketball or Ultimate Frisbee. And last summer, instead of lollygagging at the beach, Schulte was interning on the national desk of The Washington Times and studying economics and media ethics at Georgetown University.
He has received several journalism awards, including recognition as Iowa’s Outstanding Young Journalist for 2003, and his most recent accolade arrived as a $5,000 scholarship from the Jim Murray Foundation, an award established in honor of a former sports writer for the Los Angeles Times. Schulte is the first recipient from The University of Iowa to win the national honor.
The Iowa City native credits his experiences at the University and at The Daily Iowan (DI) for his successes, although juggling school and work responsibilities can be tough.
“Working in the newsroom is a lot of fun, but it also can be very stressful. You have to work as hard as you can to balance classes and put in time at the office as well,” Schulte says from the newsroom on a slow Friday afternoon. “I tend to schedule classes in the morning so I can do my homework the night before and spend the afternoons and evenings in the newsroom. Usually, I’m there until 10 or 11 at night, sometimes later.”
In the past three years at the paper, Schulte has covered murder trials, city council meetings, a state governor’s race, and a multitude of other stories. As a first-year student, he wrote up to five stories per week for the paper. Now, he works as one of the paper’s news editors, helping other reporters refine their skills. He’s covering the presidential race during the reporting opportunities provided by his Presidential Politics class.
“I try not to look at my schedule more than a day in advance. Otherwise, I’d be more overwhelmed,” Schulte says.
The hectic schedule does not surprise his mother, Gloria Schulte, who says that even as a child, Grant was a “voracious reader” who would check out 20-25 books at a time from the library. Now, she occasionally finds her son at home on weekend afternoons–exhausted and collapsed on her living room couch.
“Even in high school, he was always burning the candle at both ends,” she says. “After the first week of classes at Iowa, he came home and started talking about how busy he was, but I had to tell him, ‘I’d rather not know.’ I am always reminding him that a body can’t function without sleep.”
Schulte says his success at Iowa began, in part, because of The Daily Iowan scholarship program, which the paper’s longtime publisher, Bill Casey, initiated 16 years ago to help maintain consistency in the DI’s newsroom.
“We were the first, and we’re still the only, Big Ten school with this kind of scholarship program,” Casey says. “We have no problem finding people to work here because we always have a core group of scholarship students on staff. Plus, the DI has a good enough reputation that people know that if they work here, they’ll get jobs.”
Since the scholarship program began, the DI has awarded almost $700,000 to incoming students and is attracting 35-50 scholarship applicants each year from high schools throughout the Midwest, Casey says. Recipients receive four years of in-state tuition plus compensation for their work in the newsroom. They also have to maintain a minimum 2.9 GPA.
Since he’s paying for college on his own, the scholarship lets Schulte focus on school and his love of journalism instead of on finances, he says.
“In high school, I considered other colleges and thought about studying aerospace engineering,” he says. “I’m grateful I applied for the scholarship at Iowa, because it took care of my financial issues.”
Once he was on campus, Schulte found more opportunities to stretch his writing and German skills.
Kate Corcoran, a program assistant in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, helped Schulte apply for the Washington Times internship and for entry into Georgetown University’s Institute on Political Journalism, where Schulte won the session’s top award among print journalists.
“What I love about Grant is that he’s so humble and easygoing,” Corcoran says. “He’s such an Iowa kid. His curiosity and creativity, and obviously his writing and editing skills, are just excellent.”
Schulte also enjoys working with other instructors at Iowa, including some of the former professional journalists now on staff. His favorites include author and former Los Angeles Times writer Stephen Bloom, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Basil Talbott, a visiting associate professor and George H. Gallup professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Talbott was a political writer and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, where he covered Capitol Hill.
Schulte also found inspiration in other places, he says. He compliments Bruce Spencer, an assistant professor of German in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for creating an engaging classroom environment. Spencer says the feeling is mutual.
“Grant is just really, amazingly on the ball, doing everything on time or even early, and every little thing he did was very high quality,” Spencer says. “You could tell he invested effort in everything he did for the class, from homework to essays to class presentations.”
Schulte’s mother says she “just can’t wait until his work hits the bookstores.”
“I still have all of the handwritten stories–and the drawings of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” she jokes.
Schulte hopes other Iowa students take advantage of Iowa’s resources, because the payoff for him has been so great, he says.
“The opportunities are here,” he says. “It’s really just a matter of going out and grabbing them. If you actively pursue them and are willing to stick your neck out, the sky’s the limit.”
by Sara Langenberg