March 1, 2017
What do five plant biology, journalism, film and humanities students have in common?
They are Michigan State’s first-ever students to win a Student Academy Award for their 2016 documentary, “From Flint: Voices of a Poisoned City.”
Among them? Media and information senior Elise Conklin.
“None of us had worked together before, but we became fast friends,” Conklin says. “And we knew we wanted to piece together the most powerful, most concise, most passionate and most true story we could.”
After months of hard work and editing, Conklin applied on a whim to the Academy, and was notified the group had won.
They flew to Hollywood and attended the event, where Conklin accepted the award on the group’s behalf.
“It was surreal, to say the least,” she says with a laugh.
As a kid, Conklin liked to write and was involved in theater, but learned she could better comprehend visual stories. She was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade.
“I knew at a young age that I loved stories, but I didn’t discover that visual storytelling, specifically documentary film, was what I wanted to do until I came to MSU,” Conklin says.
A trip to India on the Beyond Bollywood Study Abroad opened her eyes even wider to the possibilities of storytelling through images and dialogue, as she learned the intricacies of a film set.
The students’ hard work was recognized thanks to support from the Media Arts Collaborative, an endowment that supports creative endeavors among students across Michigan State’s colleges.
Those studying media arts, gaming, music, theater and other creative fields learn from top faculty, as they are offered transformative experiential opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have — and that give them a competitive career edge.
“I’ve always felt that fortune favors the bold,” Conklin says. “Resilience is important, so taking ‘no’ for an answer will only push me to continue, to have that drive.”
Written by Sarah Wardell