Graduate Work

I earned my masters degree from American University in May 2012 in interactive journalism. As part of the IJ program, students learned to approach every story with the skills to tell it in the best medium for the content.

We shot and edited video, learned how to write for the web, learned the business and ethics of online news, photography, media law and HTML 5/CSS basic coding to manage and design websites. This is some of my work from the program.

Evan’s Seizure Dog from Megan Cloherty on Vimeo.

More than three million Americans live with epilepsy. One million of them have uncontrolled seizures and 7 year old Evan Moss is one of them. Evan’s seizures are caused by tuberous sclerosis, a condition which causes damaging tumors to grow throughout his body, including in his brain. Before undergoing brain surgery at 4 years old, Evan was having 300 to 400 seizures a month. His mother Lisa Moss says seizures can come on at any time, leaving the second grader unable to move, unable to call for help, even unable to breathe.

His parents Lisa and Rob Moss are nervous a seizure might debilitate their son when no one is around to help him. After their doctor recommended they invest in a service dog trained to respond to seizures, they learned the cost of their son’s need. A dog trained to sense an on-coming seizure and respond to help is as expensive as a family sedan. Evan’s dog would cost his family 13 thousand dollars.

While his parents considered how they’d pay for the animal they knew their son needed, Evan started his application to an animal training center in Xenia, Ohio called 4 Paws for Ability. Evan decided he would pen a story about how a seizure dog would change his life. Inspired by her son’s interest and effort, Lisa Moss decided they would self-publish the book and try and raise some money at a community book signing on July 24, 2011.

Patricia Cleary Dukes, legal counsel for the Epilepsy Foundation says there is no scientific proof that dogs can be trained to sense when a seizure is about to strike. However Dukes says, anecdotal evidence from some people who suffer from seizures suggests there is a physiological change that some dogs are attune to which enables them to react before the seizure hits. Dukes says there are many reputable agencies with a high success rate at training dogs to react to seizures, however she suggests patients and their families research a number of options to ensure they get what they pay for.

Local media attention to Evan’s story quickly went national, launching Evan’s picture book to the top of the best-seller list. Donations flooded Evan’s fundraising website, 4 Paws for Ability and to the Moss family home in Fairfax County, Va. The Mosses raised more than 20 thousand dollars to fund Evan’s service dog and then some. Five other children across the country, many of whom have been saving for years to afford a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability, will now have their needs realized thanks to the Moss family and a very giving community.

I shot and edited this piece.

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