Journalists select profile subjects for any number of reasons. The person could be famous or newsworthy or simply serve as the face of a big, complex issue. Other times, they are just characters the community at large should know about. Those are the hardest ones to write because the writer has to hang the story on the individual instead of a news event or issue. And if the subject is not immediately likable, the writer has to work even harder to find the reader a way into the story. In his profile of a nontraditional student at George Mason University, writer Hau Chu does not try to make his subject, Ray Niederhausen, sound like anything other than he is: a 37-year-old undergraduate working to overcome a lifetime of addiction and bad choices.

A Second Chance at Life

Hau Chu | Fourth Estate | 13 minutes (3,184 words)