Big Ideas Columbia

Published on Feb 17, 2015

By Joshua C. Robinson (MFA '15)

‘Success’ has become a serious buzzword on campus, especially for Columbia College seniors starting to define their own path for success after graduation. To further ease this transition, Senior Public Relations major, Kathryn Walters (’15) has created Big Ideas Columbia, a documentary and networking event, to help bridge the gap between alumni and current students. 

What is the purpose of the Big Ideas event & documentary?

Big Ideas Columbia believes in the Columbia College Chicago community as a whole, and for this event we wanted to take one of the hot button topics of success, and use it to begin conversation between students and alumni. The alumni/student relationship has never been a strong focus, so as we continue to have conversations about how the institution of Columbia can be successful it only makes sense that strengthening that relationship within Columbia’s community will only serve to strengthen Columbia’s success as a whole.

Who have you been working with to make this possible?

I have been working with Dayle Matchett from the President’s Office and Nissan Wasfie from Student Communications.  Susan Newman who teaches the Marketing Yourself class in the Business & Entrepreneurship department has also been great in providing helpful feedback.  Students in the Student Communications office and a few talented classmates of mine have been crucial in areas such as, filmmaking graphic design and logistics.  It's been a collaborative effort; Big Ideas Columbia couldn’t happen without them.

What have the details of putting this documentary together been like?

It’s one of those experiences where the more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know. I had no film making experience whatsoever, I had no event experience other than collaborative events within Residence Life, and we’ve had tons of support in residence life to help us do that. This was more independent rather than following a blueprint, but people have been really supportive in terms of helping me Big Ideas Columbia. Between Student Communications and the President’s Office, Susan and Julie Harris, and Eric Shiga in Student Communications as well. They have all been very patient and gracious in lending their support. 

Who are some people that you have interviewed so far?

As far as students go, we’ve interviewed Deavondré Jones who runs his own company called DanceSpire, we’ve interviewed Maureé Sullivan, who’s a fashion business major, and Nick McDowell who just completed the Comedy Studies program at Second City. Isaiah Oby, of the band OBY, They’ve played a ton of on campus events, they played at the House of Blues last year, Brian Ngo as well, and there have been many others as well.

As far as alumni is concerned, we interviewed Taylor Culligan who works at a design firm, and Hannah Fehrman, who owns her own photography production company, Grey House Productions, Brock Clawson, who’s done some really great choreography here in Chicago, he’s done some work with the Joffrey Ballet. And, then we interviewed Dr. Kim, Mark Kelly and Kelli Collins from Residence Life as well. A lot of people have been really gracious with their time; it’s humbling.

It seems like a project like this could really serve as a valuable documentation of the theme of success and the ways in which the Columbia College Chicago community interacts with each other. It seems like an interesting documentation of interconnectedness as a whole.

That was one of the reasons that we decided to go with video content, because we would have some sort of documentation that could be used beyond the event.

What are you most excited about for this event?

I am most excited about the opportunity that Columbia students and Alumni have in relationship to each other, and bringing that to light. I feel like that’s a missed opportunity that we haven’t taken full advantage of. Yet, there are a lot of Columbia alumni who are starting their own businesses and are doing entrepreneurial things on the side, and they need help doing it. 

On the other side we have current students who need internships and need work experiences. It’s not just this one sided thing that we’re asking alumni to pour everything they have towards students; it’s a mutually beneficial relationship, and it’s beneficial to the institution. How can we ensure each other’s success? How do we bridge that gap and help our community as a whole to be successful?

So essentially you’re asking, 'How do we in the Columbia College Chicago Community become generous with our success?'

Right, and then realize that it’s a win-win, it’s not one sided.

What is the structure of the event itself?

After we show the documentary, we have a couple of alumni who are going to be on a panel to answer any questions that the attendees might have. After the panel, there will be an opportunity for networking, some free food, as well as time to start to build some of those relationships. 

Any closing thoughts or comments?

Big ideas are coming. I hope that people come out, and seek the opportunities they have to engage with each other.

And again the date of the event is…

Big Ideas Columbia is Thursday February 26th, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Film Row Cinema 8th floor of 1104 S. Wabash, so come out for it!