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UCF journalism students wonder why Sotloff took risks

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Dr. Tim Brown, UCF Journalism Professor Dr. Tim Brown, UCF Journalism Professor
UCF Journalism students Chad Erwin and Kelsey Walker talk about the passion and drive former UCF student Steven Sotloff had. UCF Journalism students Chad Erwin and Kelsey Walker talk about the passion and drive former UCF student Steven Sotloff had.
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ORLANDO, FL (WFLA) -

There was some heart felt reaction Wednesday as the White House confirmed that the man slain by ISIS terrorists in Syria was indeed American journalist Steven Sotloff.

Sotloff was the second American journalist to die at the hands of ISIS.

President Barack Obama had some words of warning for the terrorists: "Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and justice will be served,” he said.

Wednesday afternoon students at the University of Central Florida, where Sotloff was once a student, planned a candlelight vigil to be held on campus at 9pm.

But inside the classrooms, this story has a different tone --especially for the rising journalists who have aspirations of telling stories just like Sotloff.

University of Central Florida journalism students are used to hearing talks about drive, passion and risks that come with the profession.

“Wanting to just reveal a story that nobody else knows that you want to get out there,” UCF Senior journalism student Chad Erwin said.

It's hard for Senior Kelsey Walker to comprehend just why Steven Sotloff willingly put himself in the midst of such danger.

“There kind of has to be an extent that you say, ‘my own safety' and I kindof wonder why he would put himself in that situation,” Walker wondered.

The tragedy of former UCF student Steven Sotloff's execution by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria group has journalism professor Dr. Tim Brown answering some tough questions in the classroom.

“Why was he so passionate about it? Why was he so committed to it? What was it about this that drove him?” Brown said of the questions he's getting from students. “That's a question that an individual has to answer,” he added.

Brown plans to use the example of ISIS attacks on journalists lightly in class because they are rare and extreme.

However, it is a raw look at the sacrifice some give to share the stories he believes we so desperately need to hear.

“I am reading things I normally wouldn't have read because this has made me more aware of the lengths and the commitment that many journalists have to tell stories that matter,” Brown said.

Sotloff attended UCF more than 10 years ago, so students there now do not know him. However, because he has the UCF connection, they admit they're paying to closer attention to this crisis.

Copyright 2014 WFLA.  All rights reserved.

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