This post was written by Megan Turner, a mentor in our Digital Media Mentoring Program.
The changing leaves and darkening skies not only mark the beginning of fall but also the start of the college application process—and with that, the dreaded personal statement.
This October at the New School, college bound juniors and seniors, as well as other mentees in the digital media mentorship program at Girls Write Now, were offered a head start on this process. Mentees created digital statements as part of Girls Write Now’s first digital media workshop of the year. Although not a substitute for the standard college essay, Urban Word’s Creatively College Bound Coordinator, Erica Fabri, suggested these digital statements could be used to enhance students’ college applications.
Mentees created digital statements by completing a fill-in-the-blank script with lines such as, “When I remember: _______ (place, person or thing you love), I think of: _______ (color, animal or memory).”
The script was inspired by Audre Lorde’s “Hanging Fire” and Lauryn Hill’s “Every Ghetto, Every City.” Fabri encouraged mentees to borrow ideas from the two poems, suggesting the best writers often “steal” from others.
After completing their worksheets, mentees recorded their personal statements in front of a white screen with the assistance of Fabri and Urban Word’s Digital Media Manager, DK Wright. Fabri and Wright also asked students to consider whether they would later add text, b-roll, or a split screen as a way of enhancing their original recording.
While reading a script in front of a camera was nerve-racking for some, mentor and mentee pair Paola Messina and Tiffany Wickham described this as their favorite part of Saturday’s workshop. Wickham, a junior, said she enjoyed “recording my poem and making it come to life.”
The pair also discussed why writing about oneself can prove challenging. “It’s hard to write about yourself because there is so much to say,” said Wickham, stating it was difficult to know what to include.
Mentee and junior Nataly Marte stated writing about oneself is “awkward,” as one often thinks only of the negative. At the same time, Marte described the process as “liberating at times—to be able to say what you feel about yourself.”
Messina added that writing about oneself is “a healthy thing to do.” She said, “You end up facing your demons in a way—so that’s the tough part.”
Girls Write Now’s “Citizen Media” workshop ended with the traditional closing lines and suggestions on how to collect film. While students are not required to edit their digital statements, they will have the opportunity to do so in the next digital workshop, “Compilation Films: Cut-Ups and Splices,” scheduled for November 22.