Communication studies students claim high honors in regional production competition
Students in Furman’s Department of Communication Studies find stories all over campus – on a small farm near the lake where organic vegetables sprout, in an athletics equipment room where a student contemplates his past and future, on the golf course where a young athlete is breaking barriers, and on paths where passersby own up to their odd celebrity crushes.
On July 30, their talents were honored in a ceremony on the Georgia Film Academy Soundstage in Fayetteville, Georgia, as the Southeast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced the winners of the 2022 Student Production Awards. Six Furman communication studies students were nominated for awards, with four winning in their categories.
In the Non-Fiction Short Form category, Cam Hamer ’24 won the Student Production Award for “Patience – Episode One,” which he created in the Digital Storytelling course taught by Mary Sturgill, a media specialist and communication studies instructor. In the video, Hamer narrates his journey as a standout student athlete who transferred to Furman and worked as an equipment manager.
“Is this what I had in mind? No,” said Hamer over scenes of him at work in the equipment room. “But is this helping me reach my goals? Yes.”
Hamer, who joined the football team as a player in spring 2022, plans to continue his studies in communication. “I’ve learned certain techniques to keep my audience on their toes and more engaged,” he said. “I’ve only had one semester of communication classes, so there’s so much more to learn, and I’m excited to see what the future holds, because this is only the beginning.”
Caroline Brickle ’22, who earned her degree in communication studies in May, used her time in Janet Kwami’s Advanced Digital Storytelling course to produce “Kyra Cox – Changing the Face of Golf.” The short film features Kyra Cox ’22, Brickle’s fellow communication studies major, as she candidly discusses her experiences as a woman of color on Furman’s women’s golf team.
“There’s no difference between a Black golfer and a white golfer,” said Cox in the opening of the video, which won in the Sports Story or Segment category. “Everyone plays the same game on the same course.”
A much smaller green area – the 1/4-acre Furman Farm – was the setting of “More than Organic,” a short film by Maggie Collins ’23. The project, which won the award in the Photography category, showed the workings of the farm as it provides educational and work experience – as well as fresh produce – for the university’s students. Collins used the Communication Studies department’s new drones to collect some of the footage.
Collins interviewed student workers Isabella Quick ’24 and Campbell Lomel ’24 for the video, which she produced in Sturgill’s Digital Storytelling class. “To start [sustainable farming] in a college, where you’ve got these people who are going to be the foundation of the new world – this is huge,” said Lomel in the video.
“I was honored when Professor Sturgill told me about my nomination, but to have won is an even bigger honor,” said Collins. “With the help of many faculty and advisors, I began to appreciate photography and see how crucial it is in communicating a message effectively. I look forward to taking the skills I have learned into whatever career path I choose following my four years here at Furman.”
Dalton Arnette ’22, who graduated in May, won in the News Talent category. His “Knightly News” segment, “Dalton on the Street,” which he produced in Sturgill’s Broadcast Communication course, took him to various locations around campus, where he captured lighthearted person-on-the-street interviews with his fellow students on topics such as weird celebrity crushes.
“These celebs need to stay far away from Furman,” Arnette told the viewers after filming his classmates admitting their attraction to Barack Obama, actor Tom Holland, singer Florence Welch and a couple of anime stars.
Dalton’s Furman experiences helped set the stage for post-collegiate success, he said.
“Working as an anchor on ‘The Knightly News’ and on my ‘Dalton on the Street’ segment has taught me the value of hard work, determination and the power of humor in everyday life,” said Dalton, who now works as an advertising account coordinator.
Two other recent communication studies graduates also received nominations for their work. Hannah Koch ’22 was recognized in the News Report – Serious News category for her piece “Fatima’s Fight.” Alexis Hildenbrandt ’22 was nominated in the News Report – Light News category for her video “Isaiah – Building Bridges.”
This is the second year in a row that Furman students have taken home Student Production Awards from the Southeast Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. In 2021, two Furman students won first-place awards.
“We’re really proud of all six students who were nominated and our four award winners,” said Sturgill. “The high production quality required for a nomination for an award at this level shows that our students in the Department of Communication Studies here at Furman are finding their voices as compelling storytellers who are talented communicators, journalists and advocates.”