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Students Create Video Projects for Local Nonprofits

Students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s mass media communication major completed video projects for local nonprofit organizations during the Spring 2008 semester.

The students, enrolled in the Advanced Digital Media Production course, produced both “long-form” client advocacy pieces, which ranged in length between seven and 20 minutes, and multiple 30-second public-service announcements, all in about 14 weeks.

According to Bruce E. Huffman, instructor of media arts and video production, the project helps students understand the strengths and challenges of working in a production team, working with and being responsible to a client, and working within deadlines. It also allows them to create something they can show as an example of their work to prospective employers.

Teams of three or four students worked with a local nonprofit “client” throughout the semester, first meeting to gather project information, then presenting their initial ideas and seeking additional input. After planning (preproduction) and shooting the footage using college-owned equipment (production), the students edited a rough-cut version to present to the client. After making any necessary changes and tweaking the final version, teams received approval from the clients before making interactive DVDs. Through a partnership with Comcast, the 30-second PSAs will be aired on the local Comcast cable-television system.

Nineteen students in two sections of the class worked on the projects:

From left%3A Students Jeremy Swiger, Edward (Joey) Murphy and Sean Ford with Theresa Miller and Karen Maurer, cancer control specialists for the American Cancer Society, and Bernie and Red Swank, American Cancer Society volunteers.American Cancer SocietyStudents Sean P. Ford, of Duncansville; Edward J. Murphy IV, of Hanover; and Jeremy L. Swiger, of Pine Grove; completed a project on “Scarf Tying and Wig Care” for the American Cancer Society.

“The American Cancer Society was excited to have this opportunity to work with the Penn College students in the Digital Media Production class on the Wig Care and Scarf Tying video,” said Theresa Miller, cancer control specialist for the American Cancer Society. “The entire process was impressive, and the students were very professional to work with. The DVD is another tool and service that we can offer patients through their cancer journey. Our mission is to improve quality of life, and we feel we can do that with this DVD.”

“In regards to working with a real client, I would have to say it’s rewarding to realize that all of the work in video is culminating into a set of products for a client,” Swiger said. “It’s exciting to think about the fact that instead of our hard work only being seen by our professor and our classmates, it will now be viewed on a much larger scale. It’s great experience for what is to come.”

From left%3A Students Nick Angus, Seth Heasley, Scott Rudinski and Crystal Smeal with Tom Davis, of Hope Enterprises.Hope Enterprises Inc.Students Nicholas A. Angus, of Altoona; Seth H. Heasley, of Montgomery; Scott A. Rudinski, of Williamsport; and Crystal L. Smeal, of Morrisdale, worked on a “CES (Community Employment Services), FOCES (Focus on Community Employment Success) and CAP (Community Access Program) Overview” project for Hope Enterprises Inc.

“I really enjoyed working with the students,” said Tom Davis, director of CES for Hope Enterprises. “I thought they had a lot of creative ideas and were really motivated. Their work (the DVD) will serve as a strong marketing tool for CES. We will show the DVD to various businesses and utilize it in schools to transition students to the world of work. You spell success with CES.”

“It was the most realistic experience I’ve had as a mass media (communication) student at Penn College,” Rudinski said. “I learned a lot of organizational and time-management skills with my team and how crucial their daily attendance really ended up being. … Each member of my team played a vital role in producing the final project in collaboration with Hope. “¦ It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and just to know I made a difference with Hope Enterprises made the 10-week collaboration worthwhile.”

From left%3A Students Jon Hurr and Jerry Caulkins, Damon Anderson, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lycoming County, students Tim Cotter and Jermaine Mitchell, and Maj. Marie Harris of the Salvation Army.‘Mentoring Matters’ Students Jerry R. Caulkins, of Roulette; Timothy R. Cotter, of Saint Marys; Jonathan R. Hurr, of Franklin; and Jermaine L. Mitchell, of Williamsport, completed a “Mentoring Matters” video for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salvation Army and the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Commission.

“I really liked working with a client outside of the college because it gave us real-world experience that will definitely help us once we graduate,” Caulkins said. “I think working with a team of three other guys really gave me a great feel for what it will be like working in groups in the future. Just about everything we did for this project helped to prepare us for work outside of college.”

“The overall experience with this project is like no other,” Cotter said. “The fact that we get to work with a real outside client while we are still getting our education is priceless.”

From left, students Andrew Baird, Danielle Albert, Jill Kern and Zac Coleman with Maj. Marie Harris and Pamela Hicks, both of the Salvation Army.Salvation ArmyStudents Andrew D. Baird, of Altoona; Danielle M. Albert, of Trout Run; Zachary M. Coleman, of Plymouth Meeting; and Jill M. Kern, of Mapleton Depot, prepared a “Project Break-Through Overview” video for the Salvation Army.

“As nonprofits, we work on a shoestring budget and don’t have the luxury of professional media,” said Maj. Marie Harris of the Salvation Army. “(The students) have helped us in a very meaningful way to let the community know the opportunities and needs of mentoring.”

“Working in groups was a useful experience,” Coleman said. “It taught me how to work with people I may not get along with and how to put the work ahead of personal feelings.”

“Most of the time people look down on the youth in our society,” Kern said. “I think it was cool that our clients believed in us to get the job done for them, which not only will benefit them, but could help change the lives of others.”

From left%3A Janel Gordner of the YWCA, students Dave Davenport, Shanee Robinson, Jamie Haight and Brian Williams, and Deb Dominick of the YWCA.YWCAThe student team of David E. Davenport Jr., of DuBoistown; Jamie L.W. Haight, of Sunbury; Shanee B. Robinson, of Newark, Del.; and Brian K. Williams, of Williamsport, prepared a video for the YWCA’s “One Building, Many Programs” campaign.

“Working with a real client has taught me to develop patience, because clients can change their minds at the last minute, or discover they want to go in another direction with their product, or not even know what they want at first and trust you to make a decision that would seem to benefit their product,” Williams said. “Working in a team has taught me to adapt at being dependent when working with colleagues that I can trust them to do their share of the work and they can trust me to do my share, and that if I or any of them need help, we’re there for each other.”

“The students at Penn College did a wonderful job putting together a video for the YWCA,” said Janel Gordner, development and marketing specialist for the YWCA. “We will use this for our “˜One Building Many Programs Capital Campaign’ scheduled for 2009. We are thankful for their time and dedication to this project.”

Since Spring 2005, students in the Advanced Digital Media Production class have created and produced PSAs or longer promotional, instructional, or advocacy pieces for more than 25 local nonprofit groups or agencies.

For more information about mass media communication or other academic programs offered by the School of Integrated Studies at Penn College, visit online or call (570) 327-4521. To learn more about Penn College, visit on the Web , e-mail or call (800) 367-9222.

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