Storytelling school

Students explore the impact of storytelling while celebrating diversity and identity

As part of a communications class, students recently created video journalism pieces as part of the University’s Home Project, a collection of video and audio interviews that strive to build community and to foster connection and understanding.

March 29, 2022

By Finley Chapman ’22, Desheania Andrews ’22 and Tiana Badjue ’22

The special subject class “Telling digital stories”.

Students taking an innovative communications course at the University of New Haven discover the importance of storytelling by creating an impactful digital collection of stories. As part of their ‘Digital Storytelling’ thematic course, they created video journalism stories focusing on identity and belonging.

The class is part of the University’s Home Project, a collection of short video and audio interviews with students, faculty, staff, and community members. Focused on building community and promoting understanding and diversity, the project offers talks that reflect the challenges and opportunities of living and working together and celebrating diversity, identity and belonging. The project creates opportunities for important and meaningful discussions in settings such as classrooms, trainings and workshops.

The students recently pitched their projects to classmates and professors Natalie Chavoya, BFA, and Susanne Murphy, MA Below, several students reflect on the experiment.

Finley Chapman’22

This is actually my second time in this course, as I first enrolled in the spring of my freshman year when it was taught by Professor Susanne Murphy and Professor Wayne Edwards. This version of the course aimed to tell different stories of students and professors for the centenary of the University.

This course allowed me to develop my skills in Adobe Creative Suite, especially in Photoshop, Premiere and Lightroom, helping me to succeed in the communication courses I have taken since. The course also helped me learn interview skills as I was very shy and nervous about interviewing before doing so.

It was this positive experience that convinced me to take the course again this semester. By taking “Digital Storytelling”, I was able to further improve my interviewing and editing skills. I use these enhanced skills to shine a light on the stories of different people, including people outside of the university community whose stories are not often told.

Being able to take this course again has been extremely rewarding for me. I hope to use the skills and experience I have gained to help me further in my higher education and future career.

A student stands on a podium and gives a presentation.
The students shared their video projects with their teachers and classmates.
Desheania Andrews ’22

The first semester that the Home Project was introduced in college as a special subject course, I decided to take it, not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. But I realized it was one of the most impactful courses I took in University – not just because of the technical things I learned, but because of the stories I helped to discover.

I believe college is about finding both yourself and your place in the world. The person you sit next to in class, behind whom you have your morning coffee, or who passes by every day because your class is across the hall has a story – a story you might not guess- never be just looking at her.

I believe the Welcome Project not only gives people on campus the platform to tell their story, but it also allows your peers to get to know you on a different level. Sometimes it’s about realizing that you are not alone on this campus and that there are people here who share the same experiences.

The Welcome Project focuses on diversity, inclusion and belonging, topics often mentioned but not always put into action. This project gives voice to people who otherwise might never have spoken about their struggles to find a sense of belonging. With each interview and each story told, I personally learned something through each person, learning that acceptance doesn’t always start with your loved ones or that embracing your differences can help you be a leader for others.

There wasn’t a story that didn’t leave a powerful message. Each person has a message and a story that can help someone else, and the Hosting Project gives them a platform to share it.

A student stands on a podium while a seated professor speaks to them.
Kayla Mutchler ’22 (right) listens to comments from Professor Susanne Murphy (left).
Tiana Badjue ’22

My video journalism project experience was very different for me in an exciting way, as I am a legal studies major and constantly read and analyze material. With this project, I was able to learn new skills and tap into my creative side, even though I was nervous about it and didn’t know if I would be able to complete it.

Tiana Badjue '22.
Tiana Badjue ’22.

I decided to interview a fellow Charger named Destiny for this project because I think she has an interesting story worth sharing. She was privileged to have her mother tell her she was adopted when she was 7, and that’s when Destiny wondered who she really was. When she arrived at the University of New Haven, she began to come forward and was able to find out who she was by helping others.

I was very grateful to Destiny for being patient with me during the interview, as I was still new to using cameras and making sure to capture her from the right angles. Due to our schedules and deadlines, I wasn’t able to get a lot of B-roll video from Destiny, but she was able to provide a good number of photos to make her video more impactful.

I was less enthusiastic about editing the video because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it and the video would come out successfully. But my teachers were very helpful and provided clear instructions that made the process easier for me.

Overall, I’m happy with my project and grateful for the experience as I was able to learn new skills, and executed it successfully.

Finley Chapman ’22 and Desheania Andrews ’22 are communications majors. Tiana Badjue ’22 is a legal studies major.