Kelsey Carlo, Staff Writer
For the past 10 weeks of the semester, students in JLM 461 Multimedia Web Design have been creating multitudes of content for a campaign tentatively called “Why I’m Here: Refugees and The Journey to the Mohawk Valley.”
This web design class is instructed by Assistant Professor of Management and Media Brett Orzechowski, along with guidance from the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, in hopes to humanize each individual’s experience from their country of origin to the United States.
“When I taught this class in the past, I had students in groups compete against each other in companies they have developed,” Orzechowski said. “I decided to switch it up this time around because I have known people from the refugee center and I heard there will be cuts in their funding. I find this project to be great because not only is it a real-life experience for the students, but it’s also very philanthropic.”
Orzechowski says one of the main goals of the class is to raise $5,000 for the refugee center. He also mentions that the five course learning objectives are of importance as well.
“I bring what I learned while I was in the industry to my classes,” Orzechowski said. “One of the objectives is for students to understand how to connect media with an audience and know how to utilize analytical assessment. Analytics are so important to know in this industry and can be beneficial in helping you get a job in the workforce.”
The project consists of four groups: the written profile group, the video group, the podcast group and the marketing group.
The written group will write two 1,000-word profiles while incorporating photos and two forms of multimedia, the video group will produce a one-minute vignette each to create a six-minute documentary and the podcast group will produce one four-minute podcast each while incorporating multimedia and data visualization. Lastly, the marketing group will work with the MVRCR to create a social media campaign and work with other students to promote their content on social media.
Senior James McClendon is part of the marketing group and says that while there are challenges, this is a great class for Utica College because it gives the students a real-life experience.
“The biggest challenge has been that we are starting a campaign from scratch,” McClendon said. “Most organizations that attempt to raise funds have an audience already in place. We have to build our own audience. I am thankful for this class because as I graduate from college and move into the professional industry, I will take this real-world knowledge I have gained and use it in that next phase of my life.”
Another student in the class is Yasser Machat, an international exchange student from Tunisia, who received a scholarship to study journalism at Utica College. This is Machat’s third university he is studying at and his original major is in computer science at a university in Tunisia.
“I was very hesitant to take this class because I have a background in computer science,” Machat said. “After talking to Professor Orzechowski he reassured me that I can do it and he is willing to help with anything.”
Machat is part of the video group and goes on to explain that he feels he can bring some experience into the class because he currently has a YouTube channel with 15,000 subscribers where he talks about social problems. He also said that while being from a different country he can bring in a broader vision of things.
“I’m here as an exchange student for one year,” Machat said. “With this class I have had the chance to meet an amazing professor who is willing to help you anytime, peers who are devoted and love what they are doing and a well-organized class with a real practice of what we study. That’s rare to find.”
The multimedia campaign launched on Monday, Nov. 6 and for the next five weeks of the semester the students will be deploying their forms of content for the campaign to help achieve their set goal.
To check out the student content and donate to the campaign, visit www.whyimhere.org or connect on Instagram (whyimhere_utica), Facebook (Whyimhere) and Twitter (WhyImHere_Utica).