from Arkansas State University

For Release: Oct. 18, 2002
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Graduate students’ work selected for AETN
‘Arkansas College Film and Video Showcase’

Nicole Smith of Little Rock and Christy Veara of Jonesboro, both graduate students in Arkansas State University’s mass communication master’s degree program, recently had video documentary work selected for presentation on the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN).

Smith and Veara were students in Dr. Mary Jackson Pitts’ broadcast documentary class last spring. As part of the course requirements, students were required to complete a video documentary on a subject of their choice. Pitts encouraged the women to submit their work to the Arkansas College Film and Video Showcase competition sponsored by AETN.

Smith’s documentary, "The Black Experience in the Arkansas Delta," looks back in time at life in the Delta. She said her inspiration for the film came after years of listening to family stories about life in one of the poorest regions of the state.

"I have lots of family in the Delta and found all of their experiences very interesting," Smith said. "The documentary touches on the certainly separate and certainly not equal lives they lead. School, home life and family living from the African American perspective were very important to relay in this film. The Delta is so significant, so different from other areas of the South and Arkansas."

She is the daughter of Mary Smith of Little Rock and the late Edward Smith.

Veara chose to focus on the Make a Wish Foundation, an organization that she volunteers for as a "wish coordinator." The foundation helps to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

In addition to her selection by AETN, her documentary, "The Power of a Wish," will be shown at the Hot Springs Film Festival Saturday at an open screening.

Veara said her film captures the process of receiving a wish, and could serve as an informational training video because it explains how some volunteers help the organization.

"I’ve been involved with Make a Wish for two years," Veara said. "I really like to know that I’m doing something that helps to give so much hope to not only the sick child, but their family as well. Make a Wish gives the whole family a breath of fresh air when they’ve been dealing with so much pain, medicine, treatments and illness.

"We’ve (volunteers) been told by families who have lost a loved one that they’re so grateful for the memories they were able to create with their child through a wish, memories that might have never happened."

Veara credits her documentary’s success to capturing the dedication and emotion that goes into serving as a volunteer through interviews with wish coordinators.

The film also includes interviews with parents, "wish kids," local radio personalities who hosted a radio-thon to raise money for the organization, and Make a Wish volunteers.

Smith and Veara added that Pitts was a great supporter to students in the class, and that she encouraged the students to distribute their work for review.

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