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Media Studies students win several prestigious Pinnacle Awards

Chantelle Ouano

Students in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies program were recently honoured with several of the College Media Association’s prestigious international Pinnacle Awards for their work on the Emerge project and the newly launched

UofGH won first-place Pinnacle Awards for best multimedia advertising campaign, best online infographic for Chantelle Ouano’s “Behind the Scenes: The Kents,” and best multimedia feature story for Emerge Magazine’s “I Live Here: 4 People, 4 Stories, 1 Home.” Media Studies students also secured second-place finishes for best ad supplement/special section (Emerge Magazine) and best social-media strategy.

Considering the level of competition UofGH’s students faced in Pinnacle award contention – there were 408 total organizational entries and 2608 individual category entries from 320 colleges and universities, including the top journalism schools in the U.S. and beyond – their achievement was beyond remarkable.

“Entering these awards in competitions that judge the quality of UofGH students’ work alongside the best produced in colleges and universities across the continent is always a great learning experience and educational tool,” said Media Studies instructor Kimberley Noble, who is part of the team of faculty advisors and resource instructors who oversee Emerge.

“I am always blown away when we see our students’ work nominated, let alone taking the top prizes. But it does enable us to conclude that media production work done by students like Chantelle is on par with the best coming out of undergraduate, or even graduate, programs across North America.”

A project fuelled by passion

With her infographic about the Kents and her contribution to the “I Live Here” project, Ouano became the first UofGH student or alum to win two first-place Pinnacle Awards.

For her inventive and intricately designed multimedia project on the Kents, Ouano created an interactive piece weaving together original video, photos, graphic design, and hand-written lyric sheets to paint an intimate portrait of the Lindsay, Ont., rock band.

She applied similar multi-disciplinary skill to her contribution to “I Live Here,” which found Ouano interviewing Pakistani-Canadian fashion designer Aimon Syeda to explore the concept of “modest fashion.”

In the case of both stories, Ouano found herself learning rapidly on the fly as she sought to bring her ideas to fruition.

“The challenge I faced while attempting to do this was, ‘How?’” she recalled of the early stages of her Kents project. “I had a lot of room to improve, and I took this opportunity to learn from our professors, who were there for me every step of the way.”

Chantelle Ouano

Her instructors, meanwhile, were impressed by the passionate way Ouano approached her work.

“Chantelle Ouano’s contributions to both GH360 and Emerge 2018 were special because she was driven by such an authentic desire to bring these subjects to life,” Noble said. “As instructors, we could see how Chantelle brought her interests, passions and analytical skills into classes over four years, and the effort she made to find ways to turn them into stories.”

“Because we have a small cohort program at UofGH, we get to watch how students develop skills and perspective that, over time, start to match up with the work they hope to do. Chantelle always brought some of the best ideas into classroom discussions, but finally, in fourth year, the things she really wanted to explore and the Multimedia and Media Practices curriculum combined to give her the tools and time she needed to tell these wonderful stories.”

Emerging stronger

Looking back, Ouano certainly wouldn’t say that her experience with Emerge – the groundbreaking media project that encompasses a print and online magazine, a student-organized national media awards ceremony, and supporting digital marketing campaigns – was easy. But she did find it rewarding.

“I am extremely thankful for this Emerge experience. Although stressful, it was definitely an eye-opener. It helped me understand the functions of what it really means to collaborate with different people,” she said. “Emerge was different because we were mixed with every type of media specialization and had to work as one team. At first, it was difficult because we didn’t know how to work with each other. But this was a real-life experience.

“It taught me to appreciate differences and use our strengths to make something bigger than what we could have done on our own. It was worth all the long school nights and weekends and I’m extremely proud of everyone who worked to make this last project a success.”

Ouano currently works for Kumon Canada as a Local Marketing Specialist, a job she secured after completing an internship there during her fourth year at UofGH. The position blends Ouano’s enthusiasm for video storytelling and web design.

While she is proud of the Pinnacle awards, she’s quick to point to the collaborative nature of the work and the importance of the support system in her program at UofGH.

“I feel extremely thankful for the opportunity that the University of Guelph-Humber has given me,” she said. “I don’t see these as ‘my’ awards because there have been so many people who have helped me along the way.”

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