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College of Media students win big at international competition

Two students accept an award

Students from the West Virginia University Reed College of Media received top honors at the international Broadcast Education Association (BEA) Festival of Media Arts. BEA annually receives more than 1,450 entries from 300-plus participating schools around the world.

Students in Teaching Assistant Professor David Smith’s spring 2021 Immersive Storytelling course were awarded Best of Festival in the Student Interactive Multimedia and Emerging Technologies Competition for their project, Distanced Immersion. Smith and his students collaborated with Professor Antonio Roda and students from the University of Seville in Spain to create a series of interactive multimedia experiences using augmented reality and volumetric video, more commonly known as holograms.

The spring 2021 class included freshman Leah Reed; juniors Hunter Bennett, Sara Brinsfield, Sam Gorski, Seth Seebaugh and John Henry Thomas; and senior Mark Schoenster.  

“I’m really inspired by our students’ willingness to experiment with new storytelling mediums, like augmented reality, during their time at the College,” Smith said. “They collaborated across time zones during a pandemic on an award-winning project. Classes like this help prepare students to work in teams, communicate with others from diverse backgrounds and stretch outside their comfort zones while working in emerging story forms.”  

Gillian Wanosky

Gillian Wanosky, a 2021 journalism graduate and current student in the College’s Integrated Marketing Communications master’s degree program, was named the top TV anchor in the country in the BEA Student News Competition for her undergraduate work as a main anchor for “WVU News.” 

“I was shocked and humbled to receive the award, and I feel it is a reflection of the hard work that everyone puts into ‘WVU News,’” Wanosky said. “I would not be where I am today without the guidance of the College of Media faculty, especially the training I’ve received from Gina Dahlia. While I am currently studying in the IMC program and exploring many career possibilities, I know that the experiences I’ve gained in my undergraduate career will benefit me wherever I go.”  

Wanosky, who is currently a graduate teaching assistant for “WVU News,” also won a Hearst Journalism Award, placing 14th in the Television Features Competition for a broadcast feature on a local Morgantown typewriter collector, and Journalism major Kayla Starcher (BSJ, 2021) placed second in the TV Newscast (3 per week or less) category for an episode of “WVU News” she produced.

Journalism major Kiersten Lindkvist (BSJ, 2021) placed third in BEA’s Student TV Long Feature Category for the social media video “ What the Anti-Trans Lawsuit Could Mean For Athletes in Appalachia ,” which was produced in the college’s Digital Publication: Social Video course, co-taught by Smith and Teaching Assistant Professor Ashton Marra.  

Other BEA student recognitions include:

In addition to the student awards, this year, BEA began ranking schools based on the creative achievements of their students in the Festival of Arts competition over the past five years. WVU was ranked 19th out of 100 qualifying programs.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international media competition focused on student and faculty creative activities and sponsored by the Charles and Lucille King Family Foundation. Categories include audio, documentary, film and video, interactive multimedia and emerging technologies, news, scriptwriting, and sports, among others. Winners were recognized at the BEA Annual Convention in Las Vegas in April.  

Visit for a full list of awards.