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Emerge in the running for a prestigious award

Jenna Piunno poses for a photo

Emerge, the multidisciplinary, multiplatform project produced by UofGH’s Media Studies students, was recently shortlisted for the prestigious ACP Online Pacemaker Award for student-produced online publications.

That puts Emerge in competition with online publications from UCLA, Pepperdine University and the University of Michigan. It’s an award Emerge won as recently as 2015.

What was behind Emerge’s banner year? UofGH students worked with the theme “Media Rehab” to create a vibrant, informative and interactive web magazine. Given how seamlessly and successfully the project was completed, it might be surprising that students had only 15 weeks to assign, produce, illustrate and post stories. With a big team and tight deadlines, a shared vision was crucial.

“Emerge is an experience,” said Jenna Piunno, who served as Web Team Lead on Emerge’s Design and Development Team in her fourth year.

“In some senses, it’s a taste of the real world. You have a real project you’re working on that counts for more than grades. It takes group work to the max – now I understand how important internal communications are.”

Emerge earned rave reviews for two video documentary series. Opportunity Knocking dealt with non-traditional post-graduate employment, while the moving Stopping the Sigma series probed how young people deal with mental health issues and mental illness.

“The video/doc team did a remarkable job in their persistent and sensitive search for people willing to tell difficult stories on camera, and in the way their interviews, filming and editing all demonstrate skill and restraint,” said UofGH’s Kimberley Noble, one of the four faculty advisors who, along with a team of three resource instructors, oversee Emerge.

“I have seen many graduating classes approach the subject of mental health, but never with this level of cohesion and compassion.”

For Piunno, Emerge gave her valuable web experience. She originally enrolled in Media Studies with the intention of becoming a journalist, but after taking a course in web design in her second year, she discovered a passion for digital communications.

“I thought: wow, this is a lot of fun. It’s a giant puzzle trying to make things go the way you want them to,” she said. “I love it.”

After the intensity of her Emerge experience, meanwhile, she feels more prepared for the challenges of professional life.

“Now,” she said, “I think I can take whatever’s thrown at me.”

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