Interviewing friends and family for posterity

Digital technologies make it easy to record and preserve interviews with family and friends. With the NPR StoryCorps app, you can store your audio in the Library of Congress for future generations to listen to. For their new-media project in MASC 101, more than 100 students conducted and posted interviews on a range of subjects.

Many of the conversations were about COVID-19. Keagan Hall talked to his mother about her brother Peter, who died of the coronavirus. Jordan Adams interviewed his father, an airline captain, about how the pandemic has decimated the airline industry. Brandon Ranly talked to his mom, the dean of the VCU School of Engineering, about the pandemic. Charles Casciano interviewed his younger brother, Grace Williams interviewed her sister, and Hannah Kossol talked to her twin brother.

Some of the conversations were about family origins: Beau Seymour asked his mother about her experience immigrating to the U.S. from South Korea; Carolina Campos Hernandez’s mother compared life in the U.S. and life in El Salvador.

Music was also a prevalent theme. Haikal Ahmad Nazri’s mother talked about the music she listened to growing up (like The Carpenters). Nicole Casero interviewed a friend who is a recording artist and musician.

Lily Bryngelson, David Baron and Eleanor Dewolfe each interviewed their fathers about how technology has changed over decades — and what life was like before the internet. Some students have relatives who work in the media: Hannah Hartstein’s mother, for example, writes children’s books, and Hannah Beckner’s grandmother ran a small-town newspaper.

Instead of an interview, Colton Wolf gave a monlogue — describing how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted young people’s lives and offering fellow college students words of encouragement. Read more

Serving up PSAs on pandemic safety

Each of my MASC 101 students produced at least one new-media project — publishing their work online. Students had their choice of projects. One idea was to create a public service advertisement about safety tips or other information related to COVID-19.

River Cowan: Making meals with mystery ingredients and a fluffy cat

Kylee Downie: “Stay the F&@% home!”

Zoe Freisner: Please For the Love of God Wash Your Hands

Timothy Jameson: Tips for working out and staying fit

Read more

LinkedIn profiles | Spring 2020

All students in my MASC 101 sections were required to create a LinkedIn profile — their own personal PR (public relations). We have a lot of accomplished people in our class, including:

♠ military veterans like Kyle Kimmel (who earned five medals and an award in the Army)

♣ creative people like Carson Brooke, who produced a film that won first place in comedy at the Arlington Film Festival; Kylee Downie, an award-winning actress; Jordan Reinecke, who plays with the band Hollywood Cemetery (and linked from his profile to the band’s music); Barrett Miller, who created and hosts a YouTube talk show called A Lemon Squeeze; and Keegan Garant and River Cowan, who do sketch comedy with a troupe called Blue Collard Greens.

♥ students committed to public service like Priscilla Agyepong, who has been interning this semester with a state senator; Jed Baul, who started a group to curb gun violence; James Figliola, who interned with the secretary of the U.S. Senate; Ana Ron, who volunteers at FeedMore and at Grove House (which serves women who were previously incarcerated); Erin O’Donnell, who has volunteered with Relay for Life, animal shelters, Ram Pantry and a group that fights human trafficking; and Jefry Manrique, who noted in his profile, “My fraternity and I raised approximately $15,000 for our philanthropy in the course of a year. It was difficult due to being on a college campus but luckily parents and student donations made a difference in our community.”

♦ student-athletes like Austin Graham and Alyssa Tallent (soccer) and Jaekob Vollbrecht (shot put). Track and field star Janae Blakeney, who has been honored by a resolution passed by the Virginia House of Delegates, worked her long-jump skills into her headline: “If you don’t jump, you will never fly.”

Read more

Protesting censorship: Standing up for ‘banned books’

Banned Books Week, a protest against censorship, will be held Sept. 27-Oct. 3. To publicize the event, dozens of MASC 101 students produced videos about books that some people have tried to ban from libraries and schools.

Haikal Ahmad Nazri

Rabbit, Run

Yaba Ahounou

Fahrenheit 451

Cassie Allen

In Cold Blood

Jedszelle Baul

Two Boys Kissing

Mai-Asia Brown

The Catcher in the Rye

Meredith Bush

To Kill a Mockingbird

Brianna Cappelli

The Handmaid’s Tale

Carlin Carmona

Of Mice and Men

Keeana Chavez

To Kill a Mockingbird

Ty Clinton


Vionne Clarke

Lord of the Flies

Alexandra Copeland

Harry Potter

Ruby Corry

Looking for Alaska

River Cowan

Captain Underpants series

Malik Crowfield

The Great Gatsby

Leilani Curran

The Handmaid’s Tale

Tatyanna Day-Valdez

The House of Spirits

Emily Eden

Of Mice and Men

Rebecca Elrod


Bethsabe Escalante-bravo

To Kill a Mockingbird

Amanda Feldman


Edward Henrich

Grapes of Wrath

Garrett Hug


Lesley Jenkins

Of Mice and Men

Darren Johnson

The Great Gatsby

Lauren Johnson

This One Summer

Ivy Jun

Lord of the Flies

Yenessa Kassebaum

Lord of the Flies

Sabeeka Khan

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Serissa Lafland

Eleanor and Park

Kayla Lundy

To Kill a Mockingbird


Samuel Madrigal

Captain Underpants

Andrea Malisheski


Olivia McPhail

Lord of the Flies

Iman Mekonen

Looking For Alaska

Barrett Miller

The Hate U Give

Malyk Monteria


Jacqueline Morrissey

The Color Purple

Fatou Ndiaye

To Kill a Mockingbird

Jayce Nguyen


Colin Nguyen

The Hate U Give

Mary Noble

The Hunger Games

Kelvin Osei Asamoah


Evelin Perez Rodriguez

Of Mice and Men

Thuy Pham

Of Mice and Men

Madeline Quigley

Lord of the Flies

Ayat Rashid

Animal Farm

Ana Ron

13 Reasons Why

Hayley Russell

To Kill a Mockingbird

Dominic Scala

To Kill a Mocking Bird

Isabela Silva

In Cold Blood

Malcolm Simien


Jordan Simpson


Audrey Smith

Sex is a Funny Word

Kristen Somers

The Hate U Give

Kamari Stockdale

13 Reasons Why

Yugo Suzuki

Thirteen Reasons Why

Kaelyn Thackeray

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Nadia Titus

And Tango Makes Three

Ariana Torres

Hunger Games

Alexis Tran

Glass Castle

John Trinder

Scary Stories to tell in the Dark

Jasmine Tsai

To Kill a Mockingbird

Alana Ward


Michala Wildman

It’s Perfectly Normal

Makeleh Williams

The Color Purple

Brandon Yat

Of Mice and Men

Kaylah Young


Another access point for MASC 101 (Jeff South’s sections)

Welcome to the public website for MASC 101 (Sections 001, 002 and 003). Here’s where we can show the world what we’re doing. We will host our Google Hangouts on our Rampages site and highlight some of the work you do. This website will complement our Facebook group and Twitter feed. We’ll continue using Blackboard, of course, for all quizzes, tests and other graded activities.

NPR StoryCorps interviews | Fall 2018

As their digital media project, about 130 students in my MASC 101 classes chose to record an interview using NPR’s StoryCorps app. This app automatically archives the interview at the Library of Congress.

Many of the interviews were about serious subjects and contemporary issues. For example, Fuad Ali, Azriah Bryant, William Cho, Grace Dines, Jaleel Jackson and Jordan Lee interviewed friends about Colin Kaepernick and NFL players kneeling to protest police brutality. Sofia Melo interviewed a friend from Jordan who has applied for political asylum in the U.S. because of her sexual orientation. Erica Perez Escobar interviewed her older brother about euthanasia and patient-assisted suicide. Namrata Thawrani discussed the Second Amendment with an Army veteran who’s majoring in homeland security at VCU. Mosi Jones interviewed his mother about the event at VCU in which a white professor called security on a black professor.

Read more

LinkedIn profiles | Fall 2018

All students in MASC 101-001 and 101-002 were required to create a LinkedIn profile — their own personal PR (public relations). We have a lot of accomplished people in our class, including:

¶ military veterans like Brandon Baldwin (who served in the Coast Guard) and Vidal Gonzalez (who served in the Marines and whose skills range from Military Operations and Weapons & Tactics Instruction to Web Development, Graphic Design and Soccer)

¶ student athletes like Anna Koniencki (women’s lacrosse), Austin Conway (track and field), and basketball star Sean Mobley (who saved the day when the Rams beat Hofstra in overtime Saturday night).

¶ entrepreneurs like Elijah Bell (co-owner of Rerun Vintage Clothing); Anna Lillis (the marketing and event coordinator for The Broadberry Entertainment Group); and Devin Bethea (who is not only on the men’s track and field team but also a stock trader with own website,

¶ writers, artists and performers such as Samantha McInnis (who is working on a graphic novel, “Neveea,” as well as an animated cartoon); Amari Cummings (who performs with Theatre VCU and in Richmond community theater); Carlos Lopez (who writes for Urban Views Weekly and Ink magazine and co-hosts a podcast); Jovon Griffith (who won first prize at the 2018 NOVA Student Art Exhibition); Anhhuy Nguyen (who is both a software developer intern and a dancer and choreographer for Blank Canvas, a dance team at VCU); and Quentin Rice (who plays drums with the Peppas).

We have students who speak multiple languages (Sabah Munshi had the record with five, including Hindi and Arabic) and students from all over the world: Chaeyeun Ahn from Korea; Qianyun Qi and Jiayuan You from China; and Ada Romano and Elena Avendano, both originally from El Salvador.

Most members of the class work besides going to school, and many of them do volunteer work as well: Elda Abraham is an intern for Ronald McDonald House of Charities; Irina Benson is a volunteer dog handler and has interned at the Smithsonian in D.C.; Alexis Bolivar will be an intern for a state senator in the spring; Corene Cantwell did a service trip to Guatemala with Nursing Students Without Borders; Mosi Jones ran a student organization called Nonpartisan Americans for Cooperative Politics; Jennifer Kater volunteered at a summer camp teaching young girls how to canoe and kayak; Carrie Minor volunteers at The Doorways, a hospitality home for patients and families of MCV Hospital; Erica Perez Escobar is a volunteer with Project Sunshine, which helps hospitalized children; McKenzie Pickett is an intern for Virginia Victim Assistance Network; Reagan Carriker worked with underprivileged children in Cambodia for a year; Aisyah Setiawan does volunteer work with Art for the Journey, which works with children; Jacqueline Steibly does volunteer work with Health Brigade, formerly the Fan Free Clinic; and Matt Tessema mentors high school students.

Here are the LinkedIn profiles for (almost) everybody in our class.

Read more

MASC 101 students edit Wikipedia and Wikinews

As their new-media project, several MASC 101 students created or edited articles on Wikipedia or its sister website, Wikinews. The articles included:

The Lemaire restaurant in the Jefferson Hotel (by Christina Banks)

The impact of social media on consumers in the fashion industry (by Ashley Martin)

The town of Nellysford, Virginia, near the Wintergreen ski resort (by Emma James)

The eyewear company Warby Parker (by Katelyn O’Neal)

Visiting the Virginia War Memorial (by Danielle Johnson)

Read more