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  Purdue Northwest gaining success while pursuing their dreams

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Community News & People in the News

Published on April 18, 2018 with No Comments

Purdue Northwest students won three major scriptwriting awards from the

Broadcast Education Association.

“Our students consistently win BEA awards,” said Mary Beth O’Connor, scriptwriting professor at PNW. “I am exceedingly proud of my students for pursuing their goals and dreams.”

Five students are travelling to Las Vegas in April to receive their awards, meet with industry professionals and collect feedback to improve their work and further their careers.

O’Connor explained that many of her students are getting the chance to creatively express themselves for the first time and they are experiencing success.

“They are competing against students from other universities that offer scriptwriting majors and they are winning,” said O’Connor.

Many students said that they learned new things about themselves while writing their scripts that have changed their perspectives forever.

“A major theme I used was tenacity,” said Aaron Michael Davis, a student who won second place for his original pilot. “The lead character would say yes to anything in order to ‘make it’ and be successful.”

This writing led Davis to personal realizations found through his character.

“The idea of tenacity proved to be important in my own experience of scriptwriting,” said Davis. “I was writing about my past tenacity, but it proved to be a current theme as well.”

This was also a way for Davis to process his unique experiences while working at a bridal gown store to pay for school.

“My script is about being okay with being out of place—a fish out of water,” said Davis. “These inconveniences, frustrations, and people were not just problems, they were inspirations.”

A group of students won first place for a spec script of the hit HBO series “Westworld.” Miranda Redenbaugh, Jessica Cannell and Tyler Malec also had experiences of self-discovery while writing their scripts.

“I was going through a breakup at the time that influenced my writing,” said Redenbaugh. “I was so attached and dependent on that relationship.”

The group of three students wrote about themes of identity and leaving the past behind while moving forward.

“Writing and finding your themes is a subconscious experience,” said Redenbaugh who mentioned this is the first script she ever wrote. “Any sort of conflict you’re going through, whether it is personal or in a group, will show in your script.

Students from the Communication and Creative Arts Department at PNW win BEA awards contending against students from bigger universities with scriptwriting majors.

“The one thing all of our scripts have in common is the teacher we had,” said Davis.

O’Connor teaches scriptwriting using unconventional methods she developed specifically for her students at PNW.

“From the time I was hired at PNW, I wanted to create a world-class media program,” said O’Connor. “That is exactly what we have done.”

O’Connor focuses on empowering her students to discover the talents and abilities that they naturally possess.

“They have the answers inside of them,” said O’Connor. “I just want to help my students listen and find those answers.”

“I don’t write anything for them,” said O’Connor. “I act as a resource and a mentor to my students.”

O’Connor focuses on building strong relationships with her students to bring out their inner voice.

“People from our region of the country know how to work hard, fight and struggle to make a better life for themselves,” said O’Connor. “Our students are family.”

The faculty focus on creating an environment where students achieve high success, such as winning scriptwriting awards.

“Isolation is a reason I try so hard to make our program a place of true community where we accept and help each other,” said O’Connor. “Students leave our program learning to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”

The student-teaching relationship is as rewarding to the faculty as it is to the students.

“I am so grateful that I get to work with my students and know them,” said O’Connor. “All that I expect from my students is that they find something that makes them happy and they do their best.”

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