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Hofstra media students work with nonprofits

Hofstra University seniors Ian Berkeley, left, and Adam

Hofstra University seniors Ian Berkeley, left, and Adam Lopiccolo film a video for the Windows of Opportunity program "Rock Ur Heart Out," a leadership program for young people interested in developing their own self-expression through music, community and contribution at the Hollis Woods Community Church in Queens. (April 5, 2012) Credit: Barry Sloan

As residents of the South Shore, Hofstra University seniors Alyssa Camisa and Chris Newman know what potential damage a severe hurricane can do.

They also know that planning for a storm is important, and as part of a senior-level media class at Hofstra they are helping residents do just that.

Camisa, 22, of Massapequa Park, and Newman, 21, of Massapequa, have partnered to create a usable public service announcement for the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management for use in hurricane prep. They are creating the multimedia production in both English and Spanish that includes a visual checklist of items for residents to take prior to a storm.

"It wasn't just a class anymore," Camisa said. "We took it as a job instead of a school project. And we are both from Nassau County, it pertained to us as a serious issue and something we may need to deal with."

Their public-service announcement is just one example of the work produced by the class, called media action projects, which takes them out of the classroom and into community nonprofits. The course in the School of Communication's radio/television/film department is designed to enforce entrepreneurial skills needed for today's media world using design, creation and communication for the greater community good, said Douglas Morrow, an associate professor.

The class used to focus on corporate video but revamped about three years ago to focus on nonprofits, Morrow said.

"In the last few years, the whole idea of television has changed," Morrow said. "There are so many outlets for broadcast now."

Students have worked with a variety of clients in the past, including Ronald McDonald House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girl Scouts of America, North Shore Pops, Sustainable South Bronx and the Long Island Alzheimer's Foundation. This semester, nine students are working with Windows of Opportunity, the Nassau County Office of Emergency Management, the Great Neck Arts Center and the Workplace Project.

"Many nonprofits don't have a budget or don't have people who can do this for them," Morrow said.

The students meet with representatives from the nonprofits and develop scripts and videos that the groups can use for marketing, fundraising or raising awareness of their mission.

Regina Gil, executive director and founder of the Great Neck Arts Center, said this is the second time in recent years the center has worked with Hofstra students. This year's video asks viewers to think what life would be like without the arts. Another video asked viewers to post videos or send artwork explaining the impact of art on their life. Both are expected to post soon.

Filmmaker Jake Link, 20, of Orlando, Fla., who is a Hofstra senior, wanted to broadcast the message of how important the arts are in everyday life.

"This group -- wow, they were so focused, the filmmaker himself . . . I forgot he was just in college, it was amazing," Gil said. "We have a school outreach program in classrooms and 15,000 students benefit from our existence, but nobody knows about us. This is another way to know and to get to know us . . . and his message is the message the arts have to be a part of your life."

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