In Faculty News, School of Communications

Students and faculty of the College of Fine Arts and Communications’ Department of Communications took the lead October 24 at a presentation in the Hinckley Center for the President’s Leadership Council (PLC), a group of donors who match student, employee and alumni donations.

Dozens of students and faculty from the department created an hour-long simulated newscast for the presentation, complete with live reports, and packaged stories and interviews. The College of Fine Arts and Communications, the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, and the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology all had incredible stories to tell the PLC, and faculty and students from the department helped create the presentation to advocate for the varying colleges’ projects.

Robert Walz, a broadcast journalism professor, teaches a capstone class for broadcast journalism students. Chad Curtis, a fellow professor, and his students also helped out. Walz’s and Curtis’ classes, with the help of other faculty in the college, created an hour-long news cast to tell stories about important achievements at BYU. Students used this as an opportunity to put their classroom skills into real-world use.

Rebecca on screen“This experience reminded me of how professional our students are, of how much they learn in our program,” Walz said. “In six months these students will be doing this for a living, and they are as good as anybody out there in the industry. I’m really proud that in the two years we’ve worked with them, they can step out into jobs in the industry and succeed.”

The presentation’s theme, “Excellence of Character,” provided a framework in which stories about BYU’s great accomplishments could be told. Walz said the PLC got a front-row seat to witness the power of education at this university.

“The PLC members saw just what an education at BYU does for a student,” Walz said. “And I learned a lot by working with different colleges on campus. I’m amazed at the student’s accomplishments at BYU. All across this campus—every day—we have students who are accomplishing amazing things.”

Students told stories about projects in the three colleges who participated. For example, at the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology, students created a car that gets 1,700 miles per gallon. Jennifer Amott, donor liaison for the CFAC, said the members of the PLC were greatly affected by the content that the students produced.

“The power of the individual stories was heartwarming and moving to all in attendance,” Amott said. “The council has never witnessed a presentation like this.

Lauren Wade, a student in Walz’s capstone class, had the opportunity to travel to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to interview two students who are both BYU alumni. Her job was to show how BYU helps its students to go on and fulfill their dreams. But being in Massachusetts raised the stakes for Wade in new ways.

“It was a lot of pressure, but it was good pressure,” Wade said. “If I were to get something wrong with a shot or with the audio, there would be nothing I could do. It made me do everything I learned in class the best I could. It taught me how to be responsible.”

Aubree Jones, another student of Walz’s, created a story about Rebecca Pedersen, last year’s Metropolitan Opera audition competition winner. Pedersen became the second youngest person to win the competition in its 60-year history. Jones used the skills she learned in creating her project by using cameras, microphones and editing software to tell Pedersen’s story.

“I learned to work with so many kinds of people,” Jones said. “I was able to push myself. It really tested what I had learned and I was happy I got to put everything I’ve learned to use.”

Overall, Walz said the project was a success, and the students are a testimony to the effectiveness of the program.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the students in my class,” Walz said. “These were not easy to pull together. There is a reason we have the number one newscast in the nation—we have amazingly bright and talented students.”

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