Billiken Pride: Project 2 Reflection

For my second project, I interviewed SLU junior Hannah Vestal and learned about her efforts in raising funds and awareness for Water for Panama. While I was not sure what I was going to find out about the cause, I was so inspired and learned so much through my interviews and interactions with Hannah.

For my project, I knew I wanted to write a longer story, with a few pictures scattered throughout. To be honest, I could have continued to write but had to stay within the word limit.

I originally was going to house the story on Storify, but I did not realize it won’t let you upload pictures directly from your computer to the site. While I tinkered with some solutions, I ultimately decided just to post the entire project on my blog. I think this ended up working out well, and I was still able to incorporate all the pictures I wanted to in the project. In the future, I might spend more time figuring out how to house the project on Storify, although I think it did turn out well just on my blog.

This was probably my favorite project I have worked on this semester. I was so moved by all the amazing things Hannah is doing for this cause she is so passionate about. It is such a testament to Billikens living the Jesuit mission of being “men and women for others”, and amidst all of the unrest happening in our city right now, it is refreshing to know there are still so many good things happening, even right here at SLU.


SLU Junior Employs Unique Tactics to Raise Funds and Awareness

Walking down West Pine, it’s difficult to miss Saint Louis University junior Hannah Vestal. Her warm smile and friendly waves make her easy to pick out of a crowd.

Oh, and she’s the one carrying around the forty pound, yellow jug of water.

Vestal’s latest accessory is part of a larger fundraising effort for the non-profit organization Water For Panama. Water for Panama raises funds to implement clean water systems in Panama so those living in these impoverished areas do not have to walk as far for clean water.

“I found out that people have to actually carry these water jugs and it just amazed me that they have to do that every day,” Vestal said. “Sometimes they carry these forty pound jugs for four hours, just to get clean water. It just made my heart hurt for these people.”

Vestal keeps her social media active with updates on her fundraising efforts.

ST. LOUIS-Vestal, holding up her water jug, keeps her social media active with updates on her fundraising efforts. Her fundraising began in early September. (SLU/Hannah Vestal)

Vestal began her fundraising efforts in early September with an initial fundraising goal of $500. After two weeks, she had surpassed that goal and wanted to do more. Three months later, Vestal is on track to raise $7,500 to purchase an entire windmill aqueduct that will provide clean water for the people of Panama.

“I get to go to Panama next semester as an intern with Water for Panama, so hopefully I can raise the money by then, so I can actually implement the windmill that I’m raising money for,” Vestal said.

Vestal waits in line at Starbucks, water jug in tow.

ST. LOUIS- Vestal waits in line at Starbucks, water jug in tow. Vestal brings her water jug wherever she goes, which usually sparks conversation. (SLU/Emily McDermott)

Vestal initially became involved in Water For Panama to support her friend and fellow SLU junior, Rachael Pace, who founded the organization. Pace first saw a need for clean water systems after spending time in Panama on a mission trip in 2009, and made it her goal to raise funds and awareness about this fundamental issue.

“While I was there, I was faced with the heartbreaking reality that nearly 90% of indigenous Panamanians lack access to clean water, a statistic I was not, and am not, okay with. I started Water for Panama because I just had to do something to help,” Pace said.

Vestal engages another student in dialogue about her fundraising efforts. Vestal says most people begin the conversation, and then she is happy to share about Water for Panama.

ST. LOUIS-Vestal engages another student in dialogue about her fundraising efforts. Vestal says most people begin the conversation, and then she is happy to share about Water for Panama. (SLU/Emily McDermott)

The response to Vestal’s fundraising has been incredibly positive and generated buzz around SLU’s campus. Dr. Ruben Rosario Rodriguez, theological studies professor, had Vestal in class and was immediately inspired by her efforts. Rosario was particularly connected to the cause, as he spent his childhood in Panama.

“When I was a kid, my sister and I, during the dry season, would have to walk to find water, because we didn’t have a water treatment plant in our area,” Rosario said. “You had to take your jugs and had to ration how much water you could take per family.”

Hannah Vestal walks home from class while carrying her water jug. She says "getting anywhere takes awhile", because others constantly stop and ask about her water jug.

ST. LOUIS-Vestal walks home from class while carrying her water jug. She says “getting anywhere takes awhile”, because others constantly stop and ask about her water jug. (SLU/Emily McDermott)

Vestal’s passion for the cause has grown immensely since the start of her fundraising efforts. She says Water for Panama hopes to make a dent in the water crisis, and her efforts seek to first raise awareness, and then raise funds for the organization.

“One in nine people don’t have access to clean water. Bottom line. If I can get that point across, that’s first. I want to spread awareness, and then hopefully people will want to help and donate,” Vestal said.

To support Hannah in funding a windmill aqueduct, click here.

To learn more about Water For Panama, click here.

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Good Audio and Video Can “Make A Difference”: Project One Reflection

For my project, I chose to produce online video and online writing about SLU’s annual day of service, Make A Difference Day. While I definitely had a few setbacks and frustrations along way, I was overall pleased with how my final video turned out.

Right away I knew who I wanted to interview for this project and the overall vision I had for the video. The hardest part, however, was compiling all the soundbites that appear at the end of my video about why SLU students participate in Make A Difference Day. I had trouble with the volume on many of them and had to adjust many of the clips to sound cohesive.

I also had a technical problem with audio in my first interview with George Theotokatos, which resulted in having to redo the interview a few days later. It ended up working out fine, and George was more than happy to reshoot the interview, however I lost some awesome quotes and footage that I would have liked to include in my video. One more thing I would have liked to change was the layout of some of the video footage. I forgot to turn the iPad landscape for some of my footage, which resulted in a lot of black space on either side of the video.

Something I was very happy with was the sequence toward the beginning of my video where I flashed some of the tweets about Make A Difference Day that included the hashtag #SLUMADD2014. I was not quite sure how that would turn out, but it ended up working really well and I thought it was a cool way to incorporate another form of multiplatform journalism by inserting social media into the video.

All in all, I was happy with how my final project turned out, and I think it was a great learning experience in editing and troubleshooting. I also learned a lot about the history of Make A Difference Day, so that was an added bonus!

SLU Sets University Record for ‘Make A Difference Day’

On Saturday, October 25, Saint Louis University held its annual day of service, Make A Difference Day. SLU students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members braved the unseasonably warm weather to participate in the event, setting a school record for the most participants in SLU’s history.

“For the first time ever, we have actually hit over 4,000 volunteers, which is absolutely incredible,” said Gayla Carr, Service and Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Service and Community Engagement. “Those numbers are huge, and we hope to continue to build on that in the future.”

Volunteers fled to over 160 service sites, which included non-profit organizations in the Greater St. Louis community. Participants made blankets for homeless shelters, did yard work for community members and volunteered at various community events. SLU women in Delta Gamma Fraternity spent time at Forest Park Zoo’s annual “Boo at the Zoo” event.

“This was my second time doing Make A Difference Day, and I loved it,” said Maria Walawender, sophomore member of Delta Gamma. “My job for the day was bringing Fredbird and Louie, the mascots for the Cardinals and the Blues, around the zoo so they could take pictures with the little kids.”

Make A Difference Day is a national movement that takes place on the fourth Saturday of each October. The day was established in 1992, and is the largest community service effort in the nation.

George Theotokatos, co-emcee for SLU Make A Difference Day, felt the university’s Jesuit mission lent itself well to this annual event.

“Each and every day that you expand your horizons, you experience new things and you try new things, you’re learning to be a better person for yourself, and for others, which is ultimately what we believe in as a Jesuit institution,” Theotokatos said. “Participating in Make A Difference Day is about creating a lasting change in yourself and in the communities you consider yourself to be a part of. “

Online Posting: Knowing Your Rights and Limits

With so many forms of online posting manifested through personal blogs, social media and websites, it’s important to understand the line between personal opinion and when the possibility for a lawsuit could arise. The follow are the top five ways to not get sued for content you post or publish online.

1. Confidentiality. One of the easiest ways to get sued for content posted online is by publishing highly classified information. Follow these guidelines to learn more about what all could fall into these categories.

2. Plagiarism. Passing someone else’s words or creative thoughts off as your own is always wrong and grounds for a lawsuit. Be sure to credit any and all sources you pull from–this includes photos, videos and tweets!

3. Endorsements. Be upfront about any company that may be endorsing your blog or YouTube channel. Failure to do so could be a violation of the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

4. Personal Information. Publishing highly personal information about another without his or her knowledge could also get you in some trouble, even if the information is accurate. Always consult with sources before publishing.

5. Awareness. Constantly review and update your old, published material to ensure you’re not in violation of any copyright or defamation acts. With media constantly changing, laws are bound to bend and it’s up to you to be on top of staying up-to-date with these changes.

Online Writing: Tips, Hints and Best Practices

Online writing can be tricky. Not only are the words important, but style, aesthetics and links to other relevant information also must be taken into consideration. In a world where a human’s average attention span is shorter than a goldfish, it is vital to engage the online reader immediately. Below are my top 5 best practices for online writing.

1. Make words count. Nobody enjoys reading giant blocks of text. Give the most information in the fewest words possible. Mu Lin, multiplatform journalism blogger, suggests lists, proper white space, and use of boldface as best practices.

2. Links, links, links. The subhead says it all. Links provide additional information and can move your article up in search engines. However, make sure the links embedded in your article are relevant to your story.

3. Grammar and spelling. Online writing is notorious for shorthand and abbreviations. To be taken seriously in your online article, edit and proofread to ensure there are no grammatical snafus.

4. Enticing headlines. Draw the reader in by providing a catchy or intriguing title to your article. Follow these tips for best practices in SEO (search engine optimization) headlines.

5. Inverted pyramid. Don’t make the reader dance around your article looking for need-to-know info. Place your most important quotes and facts at the top of your article, with supplemental information filling in the bottom.