Every year, two Murrow College of Communication students travel to Guatemala with the national humanitarian organization Hearts in Motion. The organization has been sending surgeons to Guatemala for about 35 years to perform life-changing surgeries, including cleft lip and palate. The Murrow College students join a group of other WSU students, most of whom are studying health sciences or Spanish, and who travel to Guatemala to assist with the medical procedures.

The Murrow College students are selected for this experience through the Backpack Journalism program, a competitive, donor-funded process that selects some of the college’s best students for international communications experiences. The students produce work that is either promotional or journalistic in nature. Past students have produced photo slideshows, videos, news releases and full-length feature stories.


Meet this year’s students:


Grace Arnis


My name is Grace Arnis and I am a senior from Olympia, Wash. I am studying broadcast news and risk & crisis communication. I plan to graduate in May.

For my first four years at WSU, I spent most of my free time as a student-athlete on the women’s rowing team. I essentially spent every spare moment I had rowing. This past spring I finished out my eligibility and graduated from the team but I still had a year left of school.

Because of that, I get to spend this year getting as much experience within the Murrow College as possible.

This summer I went on a Murrow Global Expedition to France and Belgium to report on the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Tour de France. I really enjoyed the trip and it inspired me to apply for the Backpack Journalism program this fall.

I’m very grateful to be one of the Murrow students selected for the trip. I hope it will give me and my partner on the trip the chance to tell the stories of the people we travel with and meet through the program.

Gunar Peterson


My name is Gunar Peterson and I am a senior at WSU. I plan to graduate in May with a degree in journalism and media broadcast through The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. I have had an attraction to using the camera for storytelling since the beginning of my college career, exercising and growing my skills as I became more involved. I have been a part of Cable 8 Productions and a show that aired for a semester and have had experience as a producer/anchor/reporter for Murrow News 8, along with using the camera to tell various freelance stories on the side.

I am very excited about the upcoming trip to Guatemala and the stories I hope to make while I am there. I have had experience with international journalism before as I reported on the Tour de France and Women’s World Cup in France and Belgium in 2019.

With these almost four years of knowledge in this medium now under my belt, I anticipate telling a worthwhile story about the efforts made by the Hearts in Motion Program and the lives that they have touched.