By Omar Ross
Norfolk State University’s editing publications course, taught by mass communications professor and adviser, Dr. Morgan Kirby took an unconventional route this semester. Instead of taking quizzes and writing papers, the class created a breast cancer awareness campaign which included a mini-magazine, a rap cypher and video interviews with survivors.
The graduate-level editing publications course is project based, emphasizing skills such as editing and writing. Students have the freedom to be creative in the course and design projects based on their specific interests.
The students who created the campaign, Tyra Whitney, Dominique Way, Angela Davis, and Ariana Rountree, immediately knew what direction they wanted to take when given the assignment. Their colleague Davis, was the inspiration behind the project.
At the beginning of the semester, Davis shared with the class that she was undergoing chemotherapy radiation, a comprehensive cancer treatment program that treats the cancer tumor and only affects the part of the body that has cancer, according to the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.
Although the information was shocking to the class, it encouraged them to want to create awareness about the disease.
“We want this to go viral, and to be a viral message about the cause,” said Way.
Way shared a special connection with Davis – his mother recently beat her battle with breast cancer.
The project’s mini-magazine highlighted Davis and Way’s mother, Dorothy Way. The magazine featured the two families and their experiences with the disease.
“We wanted to catch those tear jerker moments that really captured the reason we wanted to do this project,” said Whitney.
Everyone in the course had a role in making the campaign happen. Way was behind the production and technical work, Whitney was the videographer, Rountree was behind the graphics and creating the logo and mini magazine, and Davis was the talent and researcher.
“We wanted everyone to have a chance to shine,” said Way.
The students also included outside talent, Steven Sterling, Anthony Saunders, and DyQuan Richardson, to help with the cypher video to promote the campaign.
“It was a beautiful experience,” said Richardson and Sterling. “It was an amazing way to connect and learn other survivor’s stories.”
Way said the inclusion of the rappers was a chance to include other members of the Norfolk State community to the project. “When you hear it, it’s going to blow your mind,” he said.
“The cypher video was a way to empower women who have battled with breast cancer,” Way said. “We wanted some male participation, but wanted to uplift females and put them on a pedestal.”
Rountree said this project was life-changing.
“One of the big takeaways from doing this project were the students coming together to make a change. I won’t forget this,” said Rountree.
The campaign, whose motto is, “We are standing with all our survivors, and putting cancer on notice. You #cansurvive,” is officially launching April 18th in the Student Center, room 138C at 7 p.m. The event will include food, music, medical experts and a special cypher tribute to celebrate survivor’s victory.