StoryCorps begins recording local stories on Thursday

(This article was orignially published February 5 on the Gainesville Sun: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140205/ARTICLES/140209773/1182?Title=StoryCorps-begins-recording-local-stories-on-Thursday#gsc.tab=0)

By Jana Berkowitz

Jerome Fulton Jr. lost both his parents to violence. After living with relatives and enduring heated custody battles, he graduated high school a semester early and enrolled at the University of Florida.

Fulton will record his story during StoryCorps' visit to Gainesville on Thursday.

"I hope to motivate people with my story, even if it is just one person," said Fulton, who is a UF Florida Opportunity Scholar.

StoryCorps' MobileBooth will be recording local stories Thursday through March 7 as part of a cross-country tour.

Gainesville residents can register Friday for one of 50 to 60 interview slots in the StoryCorps MobileBooth, said Sue Wagner, director of community relations for UF's NPR affiliate, WUFT-FM.

"The response to StoryCorps has been enthusiastic," said Wagner, who has been working to schedule the interviews. "The first set of reservations filled up in one day."

The stories will air on NPR's "Morning Edition" and will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Fulton, 20, a finance major and the first in his family to attend college, said he had many obstacles to overcome as a result of his challenging childhood.

"I had to do what was best for me, and it made me so much more self-reliant," said Fulton, who said he was determined to win a scholarship to attend college.

Fulton said StoryCorps is an outlet for individuals like himself to gain inspiration and motivation.

"I was looking for a platform to give back to UF, and it just so happened that this opportunity came about to share my story through StoryCorps," Fulton said.

This is StoryCorps' second visit to Gainesville, said Eliza Bettinger, a manager of the MobileBooth tour. The organization is working on the local tour with WUFT, which will air a selection of the local interviews.

"WUFT has been a wonderful partner, and we are really happy to be working with them again," Bettinger said.

StoryCorps was founded by Dave Isay to create a portrait of Americans. The organization travels across the country and currently has one of the largest collections of American voices ever gathered. Nearly 80,000 Americans have been recorded in all 50 states.

"By strengthening connections between people and building an archive that reflects the rich diversity of American voices, we hope to build StoryCorps into an enduring institution that will touch the lives of every American family," Isay said in a press release.

Listeners can tune in to WUFT-FM 89.1 on NPR's "Morning Edition" each Friday to hear Fulton's and other StoryCorps interviews.

"I am looking forward to inspiring someone to overcome their obstacles in life and to set expectations for themselves," Fulton said. "Many people tell me I beat the odds, but I did what I think I was supposed to do by coming to college."

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