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New Media Students ‘Rise’ from Pandemic with Senior Showcase

Annual event showcases work from a broad range of platforms and subjects

Students in the new media studies program at Alma College often worked remotely while preparing f... Students in the new media studies program at Alma College often worked remotely while preparing for their senior showcase.ALMA — Mental health, entrepreneurship, branding and sports media were among the topics explored by Alma College students at the college’s annual new media studies (NMS) senior showcase on April 25.

For the second consecutive year, the showcase — an annual rite of passage in which NMS majors and minors display their thesis projects and discuss them before a live audience — was held virtually, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauren Woolbright, an assistant professor in the NMS program and advisor to the senior showcase, said that although students were challenged by the online-only format, they were well-prepared and had a successful showcase.

“At NMS, the way we group our learning outcomes is by ‘knowing,’ ‘doing’ and ‘making.’ Because the making aspect, in particular, is emphasized across our curriculum, it made the most sense to share our work this way. Even if we can’t be together in a space, in person, it’s such an important part of the students’ development as professionals to be able to articulate their development to the world,” Woolbright said.

“I was very impressed. I thought the students had well-developed ideas that cut across multiple platforms of media. They articulated their projects well and we had a good show.”

The senior showcase has existed for roughly the past eight years. One of the forms of media that was well-represented this year, she said, was social media — perhaps an extension of the pandemic and lack of face-to-face contact it brought for so many across the world. Several students explored how their projects fit into social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, which she said reflects a changing landscape for how young people are processing and sharing information.

Other forms of media represented include narrative film, video games, print media, table-top role-playing games, photography and more.

Prevalent themes shown in the students’ work included mental health and wellness, specifically revolving around topics like sexual assault, physical fitness and self-awareness. Woolbright said these subjects helped students show and work through some of the difficulties they personally faced during a tumultuous year.

“Some of the projects had a dark theme, centered around subjects that are not necessarily easy to discuss, but important nevertheless,” Woolbright said. “Every one of those projects ended on a positive note — a sense that, ‘We can get through this. We can make a difference.’ I think that says a lot about the students involved.”

The theme of this year’s show, “Rise,” also exemplifies students’ desire to “rise” out of the pandemic and into a better situation, she added.

Michael Wojcik of Saranac, a senior in the new media studies program, made a podcast titled “Away From the Rearview,” which looked into men’s mental health and masculinity issues. Wojcik said that after graduation, he intends to continue the podcast, as he works to earn certifications as a personal trainer and a dietician, in the hopes he can continue to reach men going through similar problems.

“It was interesting to dive deeper into this form of new media through my project, and I was happy to be able to reach people. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and people reaching out to me for tips and advice, which makes me feel great about my future career path,” Wojcik said.

To see the students’ work, visit nmsseniorshow2021.squarespace.com.

The complete list of students and their projects include:

Sports Media

  • “A Different Take On Sports Media,” by Connor Gilbert of Battle Creek.
  • “Scotty Classic,” by Kelsey Twomley of Linden.
  • “Rebranding Alma Men’s Lacrosse Social Media,” by Brandon Wenger of Chagrin Falls, OH.

Mental Health and Wellness

  • “Above Average,” by Ellie Anderson of Eagan, MN.
  • “Nimiety of Emotions,” by Lauryn Ball of Ithaca.
  • “Fourteen,” by Hannah Gibbs of Paw Paw.
  • “Mindful Moments,” by Haley Novak of Midland.
  • “Self-Aware,” by Asia Patterson of Ludington.
  • “Under the Mask,” by Haylee Sigafoose of Greenville.
  • “Ann Is Waiting,” by Gabe Stern of Roscommon.
  • “Away From the Rearview,” by Michael Wojcik of Saranac.

Entrepreneurship and Branding

  • “Ink Odyssey,” by Kasidey Easlick of Gladwin.
  • “From Lost to Boss,” by Morgan Gust of Port Hope.
  • “Community Compassion Network Rebrand,” by Lydia Miller of Mt. Pleasant.
  • “The Delusion Illlusion,” by Brandon Nicholson of Belmont.

Narrative and Informative Works

  • “Salvation,” Allison Brown of Spring Lake.
  • “The Mediaologist,” by Andrew Oberski of Monroe.
  • “In the River,” by Connor Vieau of Brighton.
Story published on May 06, 2021