Rebecca Burton can maneuver her way through a sentence with the same grace as she maneuvers a hula hoop.
Ms. Burton, 24, comes to The New York Times Student Journalism Institute fresh off earning a master’s degree in science and health communications at the University of Florida, where she completed a 200-page thesis statement while working a full-time job.
She is also a hula-hoop, trapeze and aerial silks performer. What began as a way for her and her friends to earn some extra cash developed into much more.
“It’s really a creative outlet,” Ms. Burton said. “I believe in the mind-body connection a lot, so it helps my creative process really.”
Ms. Burton, who said she always liked to write and had a longtime interest in science and health, decided to combine the two. She earned her undergraduate degree at Florida International University with a major in journalism and minor in marine biology. While completing her undergraduate degree, Ms. Burton worked at The Miami Herald for two years and interned at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire and NBC 6 in Miami. She has also freelanced for several publications. In 2011, she started Layman’s Terms Media, a blog to “articulate newsworthy scientific data to the mass media.”
As the communications coordinator at Florida Sea Grant, a research organization that aims to keep Florida’s coastal economy profitable, Ms. Burton maintains the company website, writes stories and interviews scientists statewide. But she works mostly on long-term projects and said she is excited to get back to turning out stories quickly.
“I haven’t been doing daily news-type reporting in a while,” she said, “because grad school kind of took over my life.”
Ms. Burton said she hopes to spend her time in New Orleans exploring issues of the fisheries in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast while honing her daily news writing skills.