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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Beyond the byline: The journey to understand human nature attracts writer to journalism and teaching

Aug 02, 2022 10:37AM ● By Erin Dixon

By[LL1]  Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Editor’s note: this series highlights the writers behind the stories found here every month.  

Cassie Goff never saw herself as anything but a writer, a storyteller, and a perpetual student of human behavior.

She graduated in 2020 from the University of Utah with her master’s in English with emphasis on rhetoric and composition. This topped off her double bachelor’s degrees in psychology, and writing and rhetoric studies.

Her dream life would be settling in a cabin in Alaska where she grows her own food and writes supernatural fiction novels with the radio up loud. And perhaps re-reading her favorite book series by Keri Arthur, “Riley Jenson,” another half-dozen times.

Until she gets that chance, she works for the City Journals as the Cottonwood Heights government columnist and teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College.

The students and observing people are the best parts of her job. She said, “Humans are weird, man. Humans ultimately are in charge of the world and you can’t work your way around without knowing humans.”

Telling stories about Homo sapiens, deep and personal, is what draws her to journalism and teaching. She loves to read creations from her students, who she says are “very smart and very observant about what’s going on.”

Human interest began with her grandfather who introduced her to the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. She was taught that interaction with others, truly knowing and understanding them, was paramount to a happy and successful life. Knowledge about human nature helps her to ask more probing questions in interviews. This communication skill is obvious when you see her shelf full of journalism awards.

She is a highly decorated author for her thorough and in-depth articles. For two years in a row she has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ). In 2021, she won the award for Best Government Writer for newspaper publications, second place for COVID-19 Continuing Coverage, and second for Photojournalism Feature Photo. She also collaborated with fellow City Journals reporter Joshua Wood and together they won second place for General News. In 2022, she won first place Continuing Coverage, first for COVID-19 Investigative Work, and third place for Best Newspaper Reporter, investigative work, and another for continuing coverage.