University News

NEWS3 wiutv3 "Overcoming Obstacles" series

April 28, 2017

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MACOMB, IL – It all started with a "like."

When Western Illinois University student Michelle Bingheim clicked the "like" button on the NEWS3 wiutv3 Facebook page, senior broadcasting major from Bettendorf, IA and NEWS3 anchor Megan Sanchez took notice of the shirt Bingheim was wearing in her profile photo.

"She was wearing a CHD (Congenital Heart Defect) Awareness shirt, and I saw we had some mutual friends, so I reached out to ask her more about what CHD stood for," Sanchez said. "I realized we could make it a whole series and feature a variety of students, so I asked the news team if they knew others with illnesses or disabilities."

From there, the special NEWS3 "Overcoming Obstacles" series was born, with Sanchez putting together the series, using her NEWS3 connections to find the four students featured.

"Everyone has a story, and those stories need to be told. That's why I got into journalism. I wanted to bring to light the fact there are students on our campus battling different things every day, and still being very successful," Sanchez added. "Another thing I wanted to show is that many of these struggles aren't visible externally. Basically, I wanted to show that you never know what people are going through, and I wanted to inspire others who are struggling with something to see that you can overcome it."

Sanchez interviewed Bingheim, a senior music major from Quincy, who has CHD; Alyssa Hohman, a junior biological sciences major from Elmhurst, and Audrey Tonkinson, a senior public health major from Hoffman Estates, who both have Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease); senior meteorology student Devin Biggs of Lincoln, who is on the high spectrum of autism; and Jacob Bowen, a senior agriculture major from Jacksonville, who is hearing impaired.

"While each person has been happy to share his or her story, I think we made the most impact with Jacob," Sanchez said. "Learning to sign for the on-air piece meant a lot to him, and he was so surprised. Ryan Garity (a senior broadcasting major from Crystal Lake, IL who served as the videographer for the series) and I feel incredibly blessed. Each person we worked with was remarkable, and so humble. I feel really lucky to have gotten to know each one, and gain a better understanding of what they go through. The series was such a special way to end my career at NEWS3."

Garrity added that the experience was "an eye-opener."

"There are peers all around me who have struggles that I don't even know about," he said. "It's comforting to know, like in the case of Alyssa and Audrey, that they have each other to go through these trials with each other. It's important to share with our campus community that everyone may be battling something."

Part 1: Michelle Bingheim

"She is someone you can always count on." -- Friend and Classmate Caitlin Pennington

Part 2: Alyssa and Audrey

"I couldn't imagine my life without her. She's the one person who understands everything that I'm going through." -- Alyssa

"Nobody understands anything better than Alyssa. She has literally gone through everything I've gone through. We just take turns." -- Audrey

Part 3: Devin Biggs

"He loves the weather more than anyone I've ever met .... he has a pure love for forecasting." -- WIU Broadcasting Professor Jasmine Crighton

Part 4: Jacob Bowen

"This kid just grabs the bull by the horns, literally, and gets a tremendous amount done." -- WIU School of Agriculture Professor Mark Hogue

Follow NEWS3 on Facebook at

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing