Harlem Media Students Win White House Awards

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Left to right: Nathalie Cabrera, Joann Mariani (Randolph High school journalism Instructor), Faeyah Muhammad, Samia Uddin, Nicoles Rosario, Melvin McCray (Program director), Justin Rivera and Matthew Smart on the red carpet at the White House Student Film Festival, Sunday, October 2, 2016.

Students from the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem’s Youth Empowerment Television Journalism Program were among the winners of the third annual White House Student Film Festival held on October 2nd and 3rd.

A Girl's Right To An Education https://youtu.be/ccwxh0fM1tU won an Honorable Mention at the third annual White House Student Film Festival. This marks the third win in three years for the students of the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem (DMTPH) and their second trip to the White House.

Six student filmmakers from A. Philip Randolph Campus High School who made the 3-minute film traveled to Washington, D.C. and were honored at the festivities. The
ceremony was held at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Sunday, October 2, 2016 and was followed the next day by film screenings, panel discussions and
exhibits at the South By South Lawn Festival on the south lawn of the White House.

The highlight of the event was a photo opportunity with President Barack Obama. “I almost had a panic attack or a heart attack, I can’t tell the difference between the two,” said fifteen-year-old Nicoles Rosario after the photo session. “It was exciting,” said 18- year-old Justin Rivera.

“I don’t think it has clicked in my head that it happened.” The persistent Rivera had a second encounter with the President later in the day following Obama’s panel discussion on climate change with Leonardo DiCaprio and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. “I stood in the crowd lining the walkway leading back to the White House and yelled out, ‘Mr. President, I’m one of the student filmmakers’. He came over grabbed my hand, pull me towards him, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Congratulations, keep it up.’ Then he walked off. I’ll never forget it.”

Providing life-changing experiences like these is one of the goals of the DMTPH according to founder, Melvin McCray, a former ABC News Editor and Adjunct
Professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He started the program in 2013 in order to teach high school students video, photography and
journalism. “We give students the tools create films that are relevant to the issues they face every day,” says McCray. “It is our hope that they become more engaged
with their communities and less pessimistic about their chances for success in school and in their future careers.” According to McCray, “Meeting and interacting
with the President, fellow filmmakers and accomplished industry professionals will prove invaluable to their personal and career development.”

Sunday’s film festival featured screenings of 13 winning films. It was hosted by actors Alfre Woodard, star of the Netflix series Luke Cage, and Ty Burrell, star of the
ABC’s Modern Family. The program also featured a panel discussion with the Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, writer/producers of the Stranger Things series on Netflix
along with the star of the show, 12-year-old Millie Bobbie Brown.

The film festival winners were selected from 700 entries from K through 12th grade students from around the country. The theme for this year’s film festival was, “The
World I Want To Live In.” First Lady Michelle Obama made a special appeal for films dealing with girls’ education around the world


The inception of the A Girl's Right to An Education began when students Faeyah Muhammad, Samia Uddin and Nathalie Cabrera proposed a story on women’s rights
in their after school video journalism class. Two stories were completed. One focused on Muslim women activists https://vimeo.com/171082587 and featured
a panel discussion at Union Theological Seminary. The other story focused on the 276 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in April of 2014 https://vimeo.com/167853470 and featured a rally that was held at the United Nations Church Center to publicize the fact that, two years later, 218 of the girls were still missing.

The students found it hard to believe that Boko Haram was against secular education for girls when most experts insist that the education of girls uplifts the whole community. Unfortunately, this problem exists in many
countries. In fact, worldwide 62 million girls are not in school due to issues stemming from religion, custom, safety, poverty and lack of adequate bathroom
facilities for girls.

This inspired the students to examine the issue of girls' education around the world.

The result was a 3-minute film that profiles three non-profit groups that are working to better the lives of girls: Pathfinders Justice Initiative, Girl Be Heard and
She’s the First. Pathfinders Justice Initiative fights injustice against women and girls in the developing world with a focus on combating human trafficking.

Girl Be Heard is a nonprofit theater company that highlights global issues affecting girls by empowering young women to tell their stories. She’s the First provides scholarships to girls in low income countries fostering first-generation high school graduates and cultivating the next generation of global leaders.

In February 2016, the DMTPH partnered with the A. Philip Randolph Campus High School to launch Youth Empowerment Television (YET), a program to train high
school students to become citizen journalists who create thoughtful, well-reasoned news programs composed of history-based feature stories and news stories about
the world in which they live.

In July 2016, WNET, the local PBS station, began
broadcasting student-produced stories from YET on the public affairs show, MetroFocus https://vimeo.com/176670544

The DMTPH’s first White House Student Film Festival win was in 2014 when they won an Honorable Mention with their film Harlem Through My Eyes: Digital
Technology Meets Oral History https://vimeo.com/85225316 . In 2014 they were among 15 finalists at the festival with their film Mentoring in Harlem https://vimeo.com/120738292 .

The DMTPH operates under the auspices of the Board for the Education of People of African Ancestry, a non-profit founded by New York State Regent Emerita, Dr.
Adelaide Sanford. The West Harlem Development Corporation, a non-profit that operates under a Community Benefits Agreement with Manhattan Community District 9 and Columbia University, funds the program. Over the last three years, the DMTPH has run media programs at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, the Riverside Church, Columbia University and My Image Studios LLC.

Find out more information about the Digital Media Training Program’s video journalism program at http://www.harlemeyes.com/new-page/

Student Filmmaker Bios:

Justin Leo Rivera: I'm 18 years old and a senior at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School. In my school I'm the co-founder of The Randolph Times newspaper, and I also work as the school's staff photographer. My career aspiration is to become a photojournalist for National Geographic Magazine and to one day own my own production company to produce magic on the big screen. I enjoy photography, videography and studying
political history.

I have had the privilege to work all around the city with many different production companies filming music videos, documentaries, Fashion Week and other events. I
also shoot my own artwork. I volunteer with some creative art programs and workshops for teens just like me, so that they get better educated about technology
and photography.

Nathalie Cabrera: I am 14 years old and a sophomore at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in New York City. I want to become a writer and a lawyer. My dream is to attend Harvard Law School. My extra curricula activities include dance, photography and journalism.

I really enjoy the Youth Empowerment Television journalism program at my school run by the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem. It allowed me to get out of my comfort zone and interview experts as well as shoot on-camera standups. One of the highlights was appearing on WNET Channel 13’s MetroFocus public affairs show in July to talk about my news story on the 276 kidnapped Nigerian girls. It was my firs time on television, and I hope to do more.

Nicole Rosario: I am 15 years old and a sophomore at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in New York City. I’m usually a very shy person, so it took a lot for me to participate in the Youth Empowerment Television journalism program at our school. I learned how to narrate a script, shoot a video camera and record audio as part of a production crew. I had no idea it would lead to the White House Film Festival. I’m fascinated by the power of storytelling and look forward to doing more.

My career goal is to become a psychologist or psychiatrist. My hobbies include reading, particularly Manga, which are Japanese comics, theater production and world beat dance.

Matthew Smart: I am 17 years old and a senior at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School. My career goal is to become a radio show host and an icon for the new generation. I want to make my radio show a unique learning experience with every broadcast.
My hobbies include reading, writing and drawing. My extra-curricular activities include the Boy Scouts of America, National Association of Black Engineers, and
writing for our school newspaper, The Randolph Times. I am also a member of the Order of the Feather Fraternity and New York Boys’ State Class of 2016.

Samia Uddin: I am 15 years old, and am currently in the 10th grade at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in New York City. I aspire to be in law enforcement or psychology/counseling. Some of my hobbies are photography, writing, and volleyball. The extra curricular activities that I take part in after school are junior
varsity volleyball, and I volunteer at the Amsterdam Nursing Home.

I especially enjoyed participating in the Youth Empowerment Television after school journalism program run by the Digital Media Training Program in Harlem.

My group decided to produce a story on women’s rights that resulted in our film on girls’ rights to an education. Our film was an Honorable Mention winner in the prestigious White House Student Film Festival, and I attended the award ceremony at the White House.

Faeyah Muhammad: I am 15 years old and a sophomore at A. Philip Randolph Campus High School in
New York City.

It was my idea that led to our after school Youth Empowerment Television video journalism class to produce stories on women’s rights and girls’
education. I have lived in several developing countries and have become concerned that women have few or no rights. I am very happy that this film has led to our
participation in the third annual White House Student Film Festival.

I’m interested in pursing a career in business. My hobbies include reading, photography and hiking. My extra curricular activities include volunteering at the
Amsterdam Nursing Home, art and Model United Nations.

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