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Media Studies students win prestigious awards for Emerge

Text that reads: “I am a better me because of Emerge. Despite the stress and the loss of sleep, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am that much better of a leader, that much better of a listener, that much better of a problem-solver, and that much better of a friend because of Emerge.

For a seventh consecutive year, Emerge Magazine has won a prestigious Crown Award from the New York-based Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), while the students in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies program who produce the multidisciplinary media project were also honoured with a record 10 awards, including four first-place Gold Circle Awards.

The 2019 edition of Emerge won a Crown Award in the Hybrid General Magazine category, which includes Emerge’s print and web magazine, social media content and other content generated across a half-dozen channels and platforms. Judges evaluate excellence in design, photography, concept, coverage and writing.

The Gold Crown is the top honour awarded by CSPA. Emerge was the only publication from a Canadian university to be honoured this year.

Since 2011, students in UofGH’s Media Studies program have now won 359 awards for work created through Emerge and GH360.

“The work produced by the 2019 graduating Media Studies class embodies the essence of what the class of 2011 envisioned when it founded and named Emerge, as well as what instructors, led by Program Head Kathy Ullyott, hoped would be possible when the magazine projects were expanded in 2013 to include students in all the streams,” said journalism faculty advisor Kimberley Noble.

“These award-winning projects grew out of partnerships between students in all of the media studies streams: no single stream can ever produce this work on its own. We watch Digital Communications students working with Journalism and Public Relations teams, PR and Media Business students working with journalists, and Visual Communications students working with everybody.

“The award-winning work they produced ranges from stunning print layouts and designs, playful video commercials, provocative yet respectful examinations of gender identity and homelessness, a compelling visual mixed-media study of mental illness, perfectly timed informational graphics about cannabis retailing, and an insightful first-person account of tranquility tanks in popular culture,” she added. 

“As instructors we are always impressed to see the work produced every year, and it's exciting to see that so many independent and professional judges appreciate these unique Emerge projects, and rank them among the best in North America."

A high honour for student media

In all, a total of 5757 entries were submitted for the consideration of the CSPA Gold Circle Awards judges.

UofGH students won the following first-place Gold Circle Awards:

  • Maia Clare Fisher won both best photo illustration and photograph-single artistic photograph for “Beneath the Shallows”
  • Adam Butzow won best photo slideshow for “People Like Us”
  • a team of students won best video commercial for “EMERGE Above the Stigma”

Other UofGH students or alumni singled out for their work included Emma Voulgaris, Asuka Lapierre, Ariel Deutschmann, Katelyn O’Brien, Mauro Cesario, Brant Dubeau and Ameer Hamid.

Cal Campos was videography lead on Emerge’s 15-person videography team, which produced both the first-place “EMERGE Above the Stigma” piece and also “What is EMERGE?”, which took second place in the same video commercial category. Campos said coordinating such a big team was a challenge, and so was the sheer volume of content the team was tasked with delivering, which amounted to two or three videos a week, fully filmed, edited, uploaded and optimized for different social-media platforms.

“Words cannot express how proud I am of the team,” Campos said. “I didn’t know the team very well coming into the role, but they pleasantly surprised me with their perseverance and thorough efforts with our deliverables. I got to know them on a deeper level through this experience and I kept open communication with them throughout the semester.

“It was my last semester at the University of Guelph-Humber, as it was for most of us, and I truly cannot express how much brighter they made the experience,” they added.

The teams producing the Emerge web and print magazines similarly found ways to come together and smoothly co-ordinate big teams spanning all media disciplines.

“From working on the print magazine to contributing to the web magazine, I feel like the most important lesson I learned was collaborating is one of the most valuable aspects of putting together projects,” said Katelyn O’Brien, co-editor of the Emerge print magazine. “Working together with capable individuals is so rewarding because you get the best work out of debate and being able to explore different avenues beyond your own head.

“It took a couple of months to finally be able to look at the magazines and different stories without my entire body tensing at details we overlooked, or what the better layout would be for a story; but now I can look back and reflect on what we accomplished. I think the magazine teams were dedicated to creating work that would make us proud and I think it’s safe to argue we accomplished just that.”

A pleasant surprise

Although they were proud of the work they had done on Emerge, none of the students or alumni honoured by the CSPA saw it coming.

“It’s honestly really strange,” said Matt Sexsmith, editor of the 2019 Emerge web magazine. “Of course, it feels good to be acknowledged for the work that we put into it, but up until now, being acknowledged for the hard work I put into a project was represented by a single letter or a number.

“Gaining recognition from not just one person, but by a panel of industry experts and veterans who all agreed that what we put together was not just noteworthy, but worthy of acclaim, is a good, albeit absolutely surreal, feeling.”

Campos, too, was “elated and surprised” by the news. They added, however, that even without the recognition, they would have looked back at the Emerge experience as a rewarding and enriching one.

“The whole Emerge project taught me that you get what you put in,” Campos said. “Emerge is a project that you do not get paid for. You are not assured awards. You do not get anything as a short-term reward. You do not have to give your all, but I can say that it is totally and completely worth giving your all.

“I am a better me because of Emerge. I think so fondly looking back at the time I spent with the video team. Despite the stress and the loss of sleep, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am that much better of a leader, that much better of a listener, that much better of a problem-solver, and that much better of a friend because of Emerge.

“My 100 per cent is so much higher now; it has pushed my limits of how much I could put into a project. That translates into life, into my side projects, relationships, and the experiences that will lead me to my life goals. And that is worth all the stress two-fold and beyond.”

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