Featured Student Friday – Dorian Parks

Dorian Parks is a Digital Media Innovation student at Texas State University

You may have seen this SJMC student wandering the halls of Old Main throughout the semester, or perhaps sitting beside you in class. Or just maybe you have checked out the website Geeks of Color to peruse the latest coverage of the ‘geek’ world. Well, this summer, Dorian Parks has traded the hills of San Marcos for Los Angeles and the halls of Old Main for the entertainment giant, STARZ.

The Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program provides 50 undergraduate and graduate students with internships in various media production fields. According to their website, host companies include ABC, CBS, HBO, Disney, NBC, and Warner Bros., to name a few. Needless to say, this eight-week program is beyond competitive and Dorian has proven his expertise and passion for digital media by obtaining this position.

Dorian has been preparing for an opportunity like this throughout his education as a Digital MediaInnovation major at Texas State University. Staying true to his mass communication frame of mind, Dorian recognizes that our communication is evolving every day.

“Digital media is the new way that we ingest information and I want to be a part of that digital revolution,” said Dorian in his video interview securing him the internship. The interview, produced and recorded by the creative extraordinaire himself, provides a look into the vast imagination that Dorian uses to fuel his enthusiasm for making and distributing his original content.

While at Texas State, Dorian commits his time to the website he founded called Geeks of Color, a blog-type feed that covers current news on all things ‘geek’ and promotes inclusion and diversity in the vast world of entertainment. Reviews, podcasts, gaming, and guest contributions can all be found within this impressive digital creation, demonstrating Dorian’s passion for media and communication. Not only does Dorian care about the infinite world of comics and popular culture, but his desire to bridge the gap of race and the entertainment industry is inspiring.

“I am so excited for this internship, I can’t wait to see what opportunities it leads to,” said Dorian.

The internship is scheduled to be starting this summer and we share Dorian’s excitement as we eagerly wait to see where this position takes him in the future. In the meantime, the folks in San Marcos can stay up to date on all things Dorian and geek on his website and social media platforms.

YouTube
Twitter
Instagram

Check out what Dorian is up to next; this SJMC student does not fail to impress!

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And the Award Goes to…

Each year a selection committee comprised of faculty and students comb through applications for instructors at Texas State deserving of honorary mention. One of the most prestigious awards, presented by President Trauth, is fittingly coined the ‘Presidential Award’ and can be awarded for outstanding performance in teaching, scholarship, or service.

Two of the SJMC’s very own instructors have been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching: Senior Lecturer, Dale Blasingame, and Assistant Professor, Ms. Jennifer L. Buschhorn. These awards are among the highest honors that an instructor can receive and are meant to encourage high standards among our faculty and staff across the entire Texas State campus. Both Blasingame and Buschhorn have demonstrated superior scholastic achievement in their fields and excellence in their teaching.

President Trauth will present both honorees with their awards at the University Convocation and Annual General Faculty meeting this August. Join us in congratulating our SJMC honorees!

Featured Work Friday: Kambiz Shabankare

The SJMC’s own photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek has produced some remarkable content! Photojournalism student, Kambiz Shabankare, created this incredible feature story on the Battleship Texas BB-35 and San Jacinto Historic Site volunteer, Charles Smith. Check out his photos and story below!

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Charles Smith: Fighting on Behalf of the History

Charles Smith, while carrying two boxes, walked toward a bench near the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas. The bench has been his spot every Saturday for the last four years. Smith opened the boxes one by one. He took out, from the first one, a model of the Battleship Texas BB-35 made of wood and from the other one several books and some DVDs. He placed each of them on the bench in an exact order, like every single object owned a particular area.

“I don’t want to be so close to the Capitol,” Smith said while placing the objects, “I don’t want to disturb the visitors who come to see the building, but this spot is perfect.” His spot is neither too close nor too far. Smith usually stands next to this bench, approaches visitors who are passing by and shares his knowledge of the battleship with them.

“It started 30 years ago. That was the first time I saw the battleship,” Smith said. He was 24 when saw the Battleship Texas BB-35 for the first time. On Aug. 31, 1983, the battleship transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was placed in Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas.

“She fought both first and second world wars,” Smith said, “I had read about her since I was a child, but it’s different when you are touching her beautiful body and walking on her deck.” The first meeting turned into a life changing event for Smith.

On April 30, 1948, few years after the end of the second world war, the battleship retired and became the first battleship, in the U.S history, presented as a memorial museum. The days of retirements seemed to be easy at the beginning. People remembered the battleship and her remarkable achievements during the war. The battleship’s presence in several battles like Iwo Jima and Battle of Cherbourg was not something that the Americans could easily forget. However, as time passed her heroic actions turned into the distant and forgotten memories. In 1956, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and was transferred to the Battleship Texas Commission, where her bravery turned into a nightmare.

“I am wondering if they hated her so much, they left her to die,” Smith said while his eyes were filled with a spark of anger. The commission’s negligent act against the battleship resulted in cracks and gaps in coated surfaces, water intrusion and steel deterioration.

“They knowingly destroyed her,” Smith continues, “they could have done some proper maintenance, but instead they used improper colors and materials. On one occasion, they painted the wall on the captain’s cabin and destroyed a historical world map on the wall.”

“I paid 20 dollars every week for the past two months, now I have it,” Charles Smith said while opening the box of the Wonder Woman action figure. The Comic Relief is one of few places that Smith spends time outside of his job and his passion for the battleship.

Finally, in 1983, Texas State Legislature decided to step in and assigned the battleship to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and by Aug. 31, 1983, TPWD had the sole guardianship of the Battleship Texas BB-35. “It was a happy day,” Smith said, “She was, finally, going to be with the people who cared about her.” TPWD hired some engineers to repair the battleship. The maintenance took five years. In 1988, the Battleship Texas BB-35 began her final journey to Houston. “The problem was people could not accurately remember her anymore,” Smith alleged, “Somebody had to do something, I mean I had to do something.”

Smith always has been a lonely boy. His childhood memories are filled with being bullied by his brother and by his classmates. “I didn’t have a real friend. I was mostly hanging out with my brother’s friends. They were way older than me,” Smith said. In high school, he fell in love with history. “I was alone during the breaks, so I would go somewhere and read a historical book.” Smith added, “there was no one to protect me, not even my parents.”

Lack of protection and absence of a savior has always been Smith’s concern. Therefore, from Smith’s perspective, the Texas Commission’s negligent is comparable to what he experienced as a little boy.

In 1996, Smith, who was working in Austin mostly in seasonal jobs decided to move back to San Marcos, where he was born and grow up. “I ran away from Austin,” Smith continued while laughing, “My sister-in-law was tried to hook me up with some of her friends. I need my freedom.” He already owned a trailer, so it was a total freedom comparing to his experience of living with his married brother. He was free after all and more isolated this time.

Before moving back to San Marcos Smith realized that reintroducing the story of the Battleship Texas BB-35 to Texans has become the only mission he desired to focus on. “They don’t teach the real history in universities,” Smith emphasized, “She represents some of the most crucial events in the history of the world.” Smith’s first presentation, at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, was a total disaster. “I had my video books and my model of the battleship ready,” Smith said, “there were only a few people and I knew all of them.” After showing the video, when people started to ask questions, Smith suddenly froze. “At that moment I understood, love is not always enough,” Smith smiled and continued, “love without knowledge is incomplete.”

Charles Smith lives in an old trailer in Martindale, Texas near San Marcos. “I have everything I need,” Smith said. Alongside his passion for the battleship and a job that pays his bills, Smith feels there is nothing more he can wish for. “I don’t have a girlfriend or wife and my trailer is big enough for my books,” Smith said.

Smith spent the next two years learning every detail about the Battleship Texas BB-35, WWII, WWI and the history of America’s naval battles from 1914 to 1950. In 2010, He did his second presentation this time at the Grin’s Restaurant. “30 people were staring at me,” Smith said. Two years chasing and collecting the knowledge had paid off. “I was on fire,” Smith added, “there was no question that I couldn’t answer.”

On April 22, 2017, Smith has become an official volunteer at TPWD to represent the Battleship Texas BB-35. “No one is paying me to do it, but still is an honor,” Smith said while was collecting his belongings and putting them back into the boxes. Then he walked toward the horizon and disappeared like a lonely cowboy.

JMC Living-Learning Community Meets with Professionals

Twice during the spring semester, the Journalism and Mass Communication Living-Learning Community traveled to media-related companies for tours and real-world advice from media professionals. The field trips catered to each realm of mass communication: public relations, advertising, electronic media, digital media innovation, and journalism.

First, students toured the Edelman PR firm in downtown Austin where employees discussed different accounts and showed examples of their work for clients like Kentucky Fried Chicken and REI. At Edelman, the Learning Community students had the opportunity to ask interns, newly-hired and experienced PR professionals questions concerning the field and the requirements for working at the firm.

Next, they were immersed into the world of advertising at McGarrah Jessee. The advertising company provided extensive interviews with members of each department to emphasize unique responsibilities and opportunities within the company and industry.

Students learned more about the broadcasting and journalism aspects of the media industry when they traveled to San Antonio to tour KABB Fox 29 and San Antonio Express-News. While at the television station, the aspiring storytellers went behind the scenes to watch a live broadcast of Daytime at Nine from the set. They received a tour of the building from the Lifestyle Associate Producer, Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez, a Texas State alumnus, offered advice on beneficial classes and landing internships in the field.

The last stop at San Antonio Express-News proved the changing industry has much to offer prospective journalists and photographers. After a tour of the newsroom, pressroom, and photography department, the students had a broad understanding of the daily routines at a newspaper. Those interested in sports had the opportunity to meet with the sports editor and receive specific advice.

Each career field trip offered relevant and tangible opportunities of insight and networking that will prepare students for the media professions. We are thankful to have proud alumni and professionals who are willing to spend time with our students!

Story by Lily Reeves, pre-electronic media major

Outstanding Student Blogs

Every semester, students in Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM), are required to create a blog and to post regularly. WordPress, Twitter and YouTube are three of the technologies students use. The choice of topic is left up to the student and each semester, we see a variety of topics, such as travel, food, diet, fashion, pets, sports, music and movies.

This semester, lecturer Salwa Khan had three students in her online FDOM course that chose topics that were somewhat unusual, and these students did an outstanding job of developing their blogs. They researched their topics thoroughly, wrote well and in an interesting way, found or created compelling images, credited outside sources, and in general, developed their blogs in a professional manner. Khan would like to commend these students for their impressive work, and share their blogs with you.

Maggie Bera: Actor Aesthetic – Designed to inspire and prepare young actors for the reality of the industry

John Hernandez: Extend the Sphere – Looking at the intersection of media, technology and politics

Courtney Whitehouse: Courtney Creative – Design blog

PR Campaigns students present ideas to Salvation Army executive development team

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Tuesday afternoon, the top two teams from Jennifer Scharlach’s Public Relations Campaigns class presented their ideas to the executive development team at the Salvation Army Austin Command. The Salvation Army challenged students to create campaigns to engage a younger demographic of donors to get involved with the Salvation Army and their “Rock the Red Kettle” annual event.

SJMC alumna Lauryn Ott helped establishing this partnership with a great international non-profit organization.

The Salvation Army’s USA National brand promise is ‘Doing the Most Good’. They are best known for the red kettles and Angel Tree programs at Christmas, Family Stores and The Salvation Army trucks and work during times of disaster.

Featured Student Work: Inside the Ring on the Outskirts of San Marcos

SJMC student Victoria Morin created this fantastic piece on Boxing Kings Gym in San Marcos, TX for her final project in Anna Mazurek’s Photojournalism course. Check out the slideshow and her story below!


Jose Perez opened Boxing Kings Gym in 2012 and trains boxers of all ages. It’s about a 10-minute drive off of U.S. Route 281, and is located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Texas.

Perez had been taking his son to train at another boxing gym, Bully Unit, for a few years before he decided to leave and open his own place. Bully Unit was also located in San Marcos and had an efficient facility, with enough space and equipment for training the dozens of members in attendance. The head coach began to sway his priorities away from the children, and staying there was no longer fulfilling for Perez and his son.

One day, Bully Unit was supposed to meet with some of the other boxing gyms from the San Marcos area so the boxers could spar, but the head coach didn’t show up.

“Everyone was ready, but the head coach wasn’t there,” said Perez. “My son was in the ring with no one in his corner. We had to continue without him, and when he finally showed up, everyone was already done. He wasn’t there for the kids, and we weren’t going to stay loyal to someone who didn’t care about his own team.”

That same night, Perez spoke with one of the other parents, Carlos Heredia, and agreed that they needed a new place to train their sons. They originally intended to coach the two kids on the weekends outside one of their homes, but after the other boxers, including Michael Coronado who was fighting professionally, heard about their idea, they wanted to follow. Bully Unit closed five months after that.

It started with four boxers, which was manageable for the pair of newly-proclaimed coaches. They started using a friend’s garage that already had boxing bags set up. Then, as people left Bully Unit and wanted to join Perez and Heredia, it grew from four members, to eight, then to 10 within weeks. They realized the small garage was no longer sufficient. They needed their own gym.

“I opened this gym mostly because I wanted my son to have a stable place to train for the Junior Olympics that were coming up,” said Perez. “After that, he went on to win a couple more fights. Then, all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just quit. We could’ve closed then, but at the same time we want these kids to have a place to train.”

Boxing Kings Gym makes no profit. More money is put into running the gym than the owners accumulate from collecting the monthly membership fee of $40 from each boxer. When someone comes to their gym and isn’t able to afford the fee, they waive it. All the equipment, including the helmets, gloves and bags, was provided by Perez and his wife and is made available to anyone that walks into the gym. He and Heredia built the ring themselves out of wood, ropes and padding.

Perez and his wife, Sara, pride themselves in being able to provide the gym for the community. Most of the current members have been attending the gym since it opened, although not consistently. Most boxers will attend for two or three months, then they stop coming, mainly because of the lack of discipline.

Boxing requires commitment, intense exercise and self-control. Coronado, who is 25 years old, was one of the first four boxers to start training with Perez. He began boxing when he was 16 years old and entered his first fight on his 18th birthday: he won. After that victory, Coronado took a year off.

“Winning my first fight was a big accomplishment for me,” said Coronado. “I felt fulfilled because I had always wanted to box, so I took time off. After a year, I realized how much I missed it, so I came back. Then, I won a couple more fights, took another year off, and it’s been kind of a cycle since. I wasn’t focused, and that’s what killed me. I know if I had more discipline I’d be so much farther by now.”

This pattern is seen frequently by Perez and Jorge Rincon, the assistant coach who joined the team a year after it opened. They will spend time and effort into training each boxer, and then they stop showing up. It’s usually for a variety of reasons, mostly time constraints since most of its members are students. For others, the physical toll on their bodies is too much to bear.

Sebastian Alvarez is another member who has been attending Boxing Kings Gym on and off for four years. He was finally ready to enter his first fight and won, but soon after, he took a blow that was enough to make him quit for a few months. He returned about a year ago and is focused on preparing to fight again.

“He lost passion for boxing all because of that hit,” said Perez. “We train a lot of kids and get to the point where they’re ready to fight, and they disappear. For Sebastian, it took one body shot to make him quit. For others, they don’t even make it to their first fight and they run. They’ll get scared after their first time sparring. They get intimidated. We have the gym, but no fighters.”

Regardless of who leaves or why they left. Perez and his wife still welcome them back. They understand that every one of their boxers has their own obligations that might set them back and keep them from fully committing. It’s more than a team of boxers: it’s a family, and that’s why their members are loyal. When they are ready to return, it’s as if they never left.

If someone comes with the sole intention of getting fit, they are welcomed no less that someone who wants to compete. Each boxer, to the Perez family, contributes something to the gym that increases its value. No one is turned away.

“We’ve been here for those who need us,” said Perez. “How long? I don’t know. As long as the people in San Marcos need a gym, my doors will stay open.”

PR students gain real-world experience in Campaigns class

On Tuesday, a team of public relations students gained some real-world experience by presenting their final projects to SWBC, a diversified financial services company, in San Antonio.

The students had been working hard in their Public Relations Campaigns class to build a strategy and plan for retaining and engaging millennial employees. The top two teams from the class met with over 20 individuals from SWBC to present their campaigns to the company.

One of the owners of SWBC, Charlie Amato currently serves as a University Regent for the Texas State University System.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is grateful for the opportunity to work with a nationwide leader in the banking and insurance industry.

 

SJMC’s 2017 Awards Ceremony

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication honored its brightest and best students at the 2017 Awards Ceremony in Old Main on Tuesday. Proud parents, family members, faculty and staff joined in celebrating the scholars’ achievements. Check out the photo slideshow below for a visual recap of the event, and learn about our outstanding student honors!

Student Spotlight: Russell Reed

Theater kid-turned film enthusiast, Russell Reed has spent the last three years exploring his love for filmmaking and finding like-minded individuals in the process. This electronic media major is not only a self-taught filmmaker, but he also exemplifies authentic passion in a sometimes discouraging field. Only a sophomore, Reed demonstrates a great amount of dedication to his craft and doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge with others.

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Reed grew up in Houston and was in theater while attending high school. As the end of senior year approached, he knew he didn’t want to major in theater during college but at the time, Reed was producing comedy and suspense skits on YouTube. Although Reed realized the skits weren’t exactly Oscar winners, he explains that it was during this time when he realized he loved film and using his creativity.

“There wasn’t anything specific that led me to my love for film, it was sort of gradual. One day I caught myself watching a film, and I started to critique their acting and wanted to see how I could do it better.” says Reed.

Although still undecided about his college major, Reed knew he wanted to be at Texas State University and near Austin’s film community. Starting off as business major, Reed realized electronic media was the best route to encourage his passion.

While still maintaining his comedy channel, Reed decided to make a second channel on YouTube that was specifically dedicated to filmmaking. The creation of ViLITE films gave Russell an outlet to produce portfolio-worthy short films, how-to tutorials, and even camera reviews.


Russell Reed hopes to make it as a director or director of photography one day. Whether it is for films or television, Reed explains he would love to stick to the horror genre but will be satisfied as long as his work has an impact. Reed’s overall goal is simple, to be a great storyteller.

“I love telling good stories, that’s really what it is all about. Capturing the cinematically pleasing images to complete a story.” says Reed.

With no certifications or film coursework, Russell is self-taught using online resources. He explains how this drives his creativity even more and brings boundless possibilities. Every aspect of his life is motivation to continue to create and it is not limited to coursework.

Life as a filmmaker has completely altered Reed’s perception of the world around him. He explains, “I can no longer walk around and have the perception like a normal human being. Just walking around in the world, everything I see, everything I look at and everything I touch is an emotion that can be geared toward storytelling.”

One of the latest projects Reed has worked on was a collaborative effort with the late Travis Green. Although Green had passed before production started filming, Reed and collaborators made sure that film was completed. Reed explains how this project was important to them since it was one of the last projects Green put his hands on and they are trying their hardest to have it showcased through Texas State.

As for advice Reed has for others thinking about pursuing film, he says the the most important attributes are staying confident in your work, continuing to create and surrounding yourself with like-minded people. This recipe for success seems to be working for this dedicated young filmmaker.

Reed’s last piece of advice is that, “Although all odds are against artists, your safe route should never be your priority.”