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Honors & Recognitions

The Communications Media Department has many outstanding students that we would like to recognize for their exemplary work in our concentrations. Please read about the students below who represent the best of our programs. 

Annual Awards & Scholarships

Each year the department spotlights students in each concentration that we believe represent some of the best in our department. We also award a number of merit based scholarships. Below are brief articles about the most recent award recipients.

Video Student of the Year

Autumn Olson

Portrait of Autumn Olson
Autumn Olson is a creative force. She is a writer and director that is always ready to create new characters and stories. Through her Film/Video courses she has been able to develop her stories into compelling short screenplays. One of her latest scripts, “Mom’s Coming Home,” won the LaCoy Production Fund script competition at Fitchburg State.

“I am so fortunate that the professors on campus have challenged me every step of the way to be a better storyteller, writer, and critical thinker.” Autumn says. Her interests span beyond film to history and Shakespeare. History is her second major, and it has come in handy when writing for a specific period and knowing how to do effective research for a new script. As an active member of The Shakespeare Society, she has been able to engage with classic works in a new and creative way through group writing projects like MacTweet and Hamlet Hears a Who.

Although she doesn’t know where she’ll be interning in Fall 2019, she is excited for the next opportunity. After she graduates she hopes to someday write scripts for television. 

Tech Theater Student of the Year

Lucas Cardwell
Lucas Cardwell working in a studio

Lucas Cardwell is a multi-talented theater artist that strives to always create his best work. Throughout his college career he has been an essential part in helping mount the Main Stage productions.

His expertise is sound design. He did sound design work for Into The Woods, The Peculiar Distraction of Mr. Lincoln, and The Women of Lockerbie. Those who saw The Women of Lockerbie will remember the bold and haunting soundscape that started the show and set the tone for the entire production.

He has played a large part in helping theater and performance events happen on campus. He has enjoyed working with Kim Dawkins with Pathways for Change and Linday Flathers-Friend on children’s shows at the McKay school. Most recently he was stage manager for The Diviners and was responsible for helping run rehearsals and overseeing the technical team.

From his time at Fitchburg State he is grateful for all the advice and support he received from his professors. He especially enjoyed working with tech theater professor Cap Corduan, who he says, “has been my biggest supporter, mentor, and ally, not to mention one of the funnest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.” He graduates in December 2019 and hopes to intern at the Aquila Theatre Company.

Game Design Student of the Year

Sam Lazlo
Portrait of Sam Lazlo

Sam Lazlo is a dedicated game design student and team player. Throughout his time at Fitchburg State he has worked hard to learn the artistic and technical skills to develop new games and how to work effectively on a team.

He is most proud of the large projects he has taken with his peers. For Advanced Game Design Workshop he was the producer in addition to being the character and environment artist for the game. He coordinated with students at Fitchburg State and another team at Berklee to produce the game “The Golden Jackal.” Participating in Global Game Jam has also been an exciting experience for Sam. Each year teams across the globe are given a prompt to create a new game from within 48 hours.

He is currently an art intern at Tricky Fast Studios working on creating art assets for a tech demo. When he finishes his internship, he plans to work as a 3D artist for a local start-up focused on 3D printing projects. In the future he hopes to develop and publish his own games.

Photography Student of the Year
Robert W. Wilson Memorial Scholarship

Madison Whitten
Portrait of Madison Whitten

Madison is a talented visual artist with a broad range of interests. Her main focus has been photography, but she has also worked in graphic design. As a student she has been able to refine her skills and grow as an artist.

Part of her inspiration comes from a love of nature. She enjoys camping, kayaking, and spending time outdoors. A major project she worked on was photographing Plum Island in Massachusetts. She took the time to set up and think about each composition a skill she learned in classes with Photo Professor Peter Laytin, who she says, “has taught me to see the little details…That skill has incorporated itself into my life beyond photography.”

Some of Madison’s most recent photos were on display in the Visions annual honors exhibition. Aside from Photography, she has pursued an interest in graphic design. Many might recognize her colorful and elegant designs that were on the poster, program, and wall mount for Visions 2019.

After she graduates, Madison hopes to pursue a career as a freelance photographer and later on teach photography.

She says “I believe that my passion for photography and the outdoors go hand in hand.” Madison has loved to combine her love of photography and nature. She enjoys camping and kayaking.

She is most proud of two major projects she worked on. She took various photos of Plum Island in Massachusetts and took the time to closely observe small details and the natural beauty of the place. She says she discovered, “hidden treasures through that project.”

Theater Student of the Year

Lauren Esper

Portrait of Lauren Esper
Lauren Esper knows how to make an entrance. She has powerful presence onstage whether she is acting, dancing, singing—or doing all three at once. Through her time at Fitchburg State she has been able to push her skills to the next level and participate in a handful of productions.

“I have learned so much from every single course,” says Lauren. She feels each course challenged her and will “serve as tools for my art in the future,” she says. A life changing experience for her was performing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Fitchburg State brought a production of The Women of Lockerbie that was well received by audiences. “Having the opportunity to perform a very important piece at the world’s biggest theatre festival was a dream come true,” says Lauren.

After finishing her studies, she hopes to move to New York City to pursue a career in theatre and film acting, and someday she would like to open her own performing arts studio where students can learn to act, sing, and dance.

Graphic Design Student of the Year
Gunther G. Hoos Scholarship

Ian Lawrence

Portrait of Ian Lawrence
The design work of Ian Lawrence is vivid and memorable. His have been used for events and publications across Fitchburg State. When presented with the Gunther G. Hoos scholarship, the committee said his portfolio stood out among a highly competitive field of applicants.

He is most proud of his work that represented organizations at Fitchburg State. His poster design for the Main Stage production of Into the Woods captured the magic of the beloved musical. He also designed the Spring 2018 volumes of the student literary magazine Route 2.

Ian is very grateful to his professors. He felt each class—Typography, History by Design, and Information Design—offered valuable insight and skills. He and many other students were greatly influenced by late professor Stephen Goldstein. Ian says, “I had a great relationship with professor Goldstein, and I'll miss his practical design sense. He was a great foundational instructor.”

In the future Ian hopes to work at an agency that specializes in visual identity and branding. He graduates in May, and will be interning at Davis Advertising in Worcester, MA throughout the summer.

Professional Communication Student of the Year

Dominique Goyette-Connerty

Dominique Goyette-Connerty next to an Undergraduate Conference banner

Dominique is a driven student who has focused on creating professional quality work. She has enjoyed many opportunities at Fitchburg State to learn outside the classroom and hopes to use those experiences as she applies to graduate programs in Journalism.

Throughout her time at Fitchburg State Dominique has pursued projects outside the typical classroom setting. She competed with the Fitchburg State team in the National Student Advertising Competition in 2018, and worked intensely with her team on a polished presentation and marketing plan for Ocean Spray. When Fitchburg State took the play Women of Lockerbie to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Dominique worked on a marketing team that helped promote the show online, in paper, and on the streets of Scotland.

Through the Professional Communication concentration, she has worked with professors with various types of expertise and is grateful for the guidance and support offered by Dr. Rob Carr, Dr. Randy Howe, and Dr. Kyle Moody. She says her professors, “have had my back no matter what, and have always been rooting for me every step of the way!”

Aside from marketing, Dominique is passionate about pursuing a career in journalism. She has written frequently for the school newspaper, The Point, and her senior thesis project on the creation and consumption of news today. After her internship, she plans to apply to graduate programs in journalism.

Applied Communications Student of the Year

Meena Roy

Portrait of Meena Roy
As a graduate student Meena Roy has made the most of the opportunities offered through the program at Fitchburg State and expanded her work outside the classroom.

Through her course work she has gained valuable skills in research and writing for the web. She has excelled at bringing forth creative ideas and creating professional quality non-fiction pieces. Dr. Viera Lorencova says Meena is a, “creative and self-motivated student, whose written work reveals her intellectual curiosity and ambitions to pursue a career in digital journalism.”

Meena has taken on many opportunities outside the classroom. She has written stories for The Point, the student newspaper on campus. She participated as a guest writer for the GCE blog and served as a Graduate Education Council Member. On the GCE blog she has helped promote the Masters in Applied Communications by highlighting courses like Women Gender and Sexuality Studies and scholarship opportunities for graduate students.

After she graduates in spring 2019, she hopes to pursue a career in freelance journalism and media activism. She is particularly interested in activism about nutrition and the ethical practices surrounding digital media.

Robert W. Wilson Memorial Scholarship

Mark Davenport

Mark Davenport filming outdoors
Mark Davenport is a passionate new filmmaker always on the look-out for professional experiences. He has only taken a few production classes, but has already volunteered for two feature length productions outside of Fitchburg State.

He has greatly appreciated the hands-on nature classes from the start. In his Introduction to Film & Video course he and his group worked on two short film projects on the Bolex 35 MM. One was a documentary on how to make a black and white film and another was a fiction piece. One of Mark’s main interests is screenwriting, and is grateful to adjunct professor Jeff Palmer who he says, “was always going above and beyond the normal expectations to help me, and any student learn the process of what it takes to become a screen writer and make a film come to life.”

Throughout his time as a student he has pushed himself to take on opportunities outside the classroom. In summer 2018 he was a co-producer for a feature film, The Primrose, directed by Jon Kilmer that premiered at The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge last November. That same summer he assisted classmate Peter Nogueira on a feature project, You Still Have Time. Currently he is producing a short film, Writers Block, for his Intermediate Film class.

When he graduates he hopes to pursue a career in producing and editing. His dream is to work at a major production company or be a videographer and editor for a sports team.

Elaine T. Coyne Women in Film Award

Riley Stone
Riley Stone in a field of flowers

Screenshot from Riley's recent film.

Riley is a dedicated filmmaker and a good team member. As a filmmaker she has taken on new challenges and learned a lot from working on set.

“My favorite part of film is the actual production side of it, being on set and filming,” says Riley. Each film project has presented unique challenges, but she has enjoyed working on a team and says, “I feel most proud of them since my group and I were able to problem solve and make a finished short.” 

Riley has appreciated the opportunity to learn all aspects of filmmaking—editing, scriptwriting, and sound design. She says, “I found them all interesting since I was learning things I didn’t know about and improved in areas I was weak in.”

Her greatest strengths are as a cinematographer and editor. In the future she would love to be able to be a cinematographer or an editor for music videos. She graduates in May and this summer she hopes to intern at a production company in New York City.