CJ Younger is a junior at Drake University studying science journalism. Her work as a journalist showed her how stories move social justice issues forward and prompted her to get involved with the Drake Community Press, a non-profit publisher. As managing editor, CJ works with Iowans to share their personal experiences with water quality, from drinking water concerns to economic devastation after a flood. Through the DCP, her work builds a human narrative around the water crisis in Iowa.
For most of my life, I made up worlds in my head. I wrote stories about them, captivated by the magic and make-believe, until graduation pulled me into one with bills to pay, degrees to earn and inequalities to contend with. A journalism major was my gateway into writing again – I covered how my college dining hall stayed sustainable during a pandemic, how sudden increases in utility bills disproportionately affect low-income residents and why the highest at-risk population in my county neighbors the wealthiest university. As the impact of my words grew, so did my desire to do more with them. Working for the Drake Community Press tied my talent for science journalism to my desire for social change. Nitrate levels and flood ratings have faces and names tied to them, and through my stories, I’m asking Iowans to acknowledge that water quality isn’t just environmental – it’s inequitable.