South Dakota native Tom Brokaw revealed Tuesday that he has cancer. Although Brokaw's prognosis is good, the news came as a shock to students at the University of South Dakota where he attended college.
It's easy to see Tom Brokaw's footprints at USD -- from journalism students studying under his banner in the Al Neuharth Media Center to Wednesday's student newspaper the Volante.
Volante reporter Michael Geheren was up until 3:30 a.m. writing the article on Brokaw's cancer.
"This is something that students are going to look at and really care about today because it's a name that every student knows on this campus. People know that he went here and it's an important part of this school and we had to make it a front-page story," Geheren said.
Geheren says he knew the newspaper staff made the right decision to add the last-minute article because more than 1,000 people have already viewed it online.
"For our website, I'm currently shocked by it. I've not had a story like this that has had so many people on our website at once," Geheren said.
He admits he felt some pressure writing the article because he met Brokaw when he was in middle school and considers him an inspiration.
"He was the face of journalism for me and I wanted to do what he did," Geheren said.
The young journalist says his favorite element of Brokaw's story at USD is not his success, but that he almost failed.
"He dropped out and Doc Farber was able to pull him back in and have him accomplish so much. And I just thought that was so interesting and inspiring," Geheren said.
One of Geheren's journalism teachers, who also met Brokaw, agrees.
"Tom is respected not just here, but all across the country. We wish him the best as I know most of the country does," Volante Advisor Chuck Baldwin said.
"It's amazing to think that such a powerful person came from a small school, small community and has shaped the world by telling stories. It's just amazing," Geheren said.
Both Geheren and Baldwin say they expect Brokaw will continue to be an inspiration as he maintains close ties to the University in the years to come.