huckleberryFORWEBKristine Paulsen was born in Libby, Mont., and moved to Wisconsin when she was 5.

In 2004 she received her bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Though spending many years in the Midwest, Kristine has felt the draw of the mountains in her blood her entire life, and finally made it back to them the summer of 2006 when she began her first year as a graduate student in photojournalism at the University of Montana in Missoula.

Perhaps it was fate that led her to choose Libby and its residents (and former residents) as the subject of her master's thesis. She is extremely grateful to have worked on this project, whether she chose it or whether it chose her.

One of Kristine's many valuable learning experiences in this project was grappling with her level of emotional involvement. Journalists are frequently advised to not allow themselves to become personally involved in a story.

Tom Paulsen hands his daughter,

But "I had to involve myself in this story because these people are beautiful and amazing," she said.

To create a relationship with the people whose stories she was telling, she knew she needed to be a caring individual first, and a journalist second.

The stories shared with her were "too personal, and too intense" to be treated with an indifferent response.

"It's okay to recognize your emotions in a story," she said. "Don't let them take over you, but it's okay to include them."

She believes this approach has resulted in a project that gets at the heart of the issue - these people aren't just statistics; they're amazing individuals with incredible stories of strength, and they are Living with Grace.

Kristine at her brother's graduation from college in May 2008.

Kristine graduated in May of 2008 with a master's degree and headed to Seattle for a summer photo internship with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

She currently owns her own photo business in Missoula and freelances for editorial publications.

All content copyright 2008 to present Kristine T. Paulsen. Request permission to reprint.

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