When CHRISTINE FOSTER entered the province of homeschooling, she was surprised to find "very typical Stanford students," not the narrowly taught kids she had assumed were most common. "I don't think I could have picked them out of a crowd," she says of the subjects of her story on homeschooled Stanford students (page 76). Foster, 29, has been interested in education since an early age, influenced by her mom, a public school teacher. "We spent a lot of time talking about how people learn, how society treats teachers--but she convinced me I didn't have the patience to be a teacher myself," she says. Foster has reported for the Wichita Eagle and Philadelphia Inquirer and spent two years at Forbes. She now reports to her daughter, Katie, who was born in June.

You might say CATE T. CORCORAN got in on the ground floor of the whole Silicon Valley thing. As a kid in Palo Alto, she played among the trash bins behind Hewlett-Packard, and she admits sneaking into their lobby to pilfer sugar cubes. By age 11, she found herself enlisted by Xerox PARC to help test one of the first computer mice. Corcoran, 35, majored in anthropology at UC-Santa Cruz but gravitated to business, technology, culture and media when she became a freelance journalist writing for such publications as the New York Times Magazine, Wired, Salon and the Wall Street Journal. Corcoran lives in San Francisco and is journalism chair for the National Writers Union. Her story on a Stanford student's plan to close the digital divide for disabled people is on page 46.

Bay Area photographer MARK ESTES focuses on personality. A portrait specialist whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Business Week and Redbook, Estes's subjects have included Jay Leno and Julia Child. He's interested, he says, in "giving an impression of a person," not a literal picture. "I want to create a sense of familiarity, to get a sense of their environment." To illustrate the article on egg donation (page 53),he wanted to highlight the warm skin tones of fertility specialist Lynn Westphal to contrast with the harsh, bluish glare of the operating room. The challenge was quite the opposite for his shot of egg donor candidate Lauren Russell, '00, on page 56. Searching for a setting for "a beauty shot," Estes stumbled upon a Palo Alto Victorian mansion, with a porch that oozed personality. He and Lauren did the rest.

"My most important tools have been imagination, curiosity and heart," says veteran journalist PATRICK A. McGUIRE. He put all three to work in his profile of Bill Kennard, '78, controversial chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (page 60). A newspaperman for more than a quarter-century, including 14 years with the Baltimore Sun, McGuire has taught writing at two Maryland colleges, as well as the state penitentiary. Today, the 53-year-old grandfather of six freelances from his home in rural Abingdon, Md., and indulges what he calls his "inner child"&emdash;which translates to "guitar player, banjo picker, singer-songwriter, military history nut and toy soldier collector."