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For my final project in my Fundamentals of News Design course at American University, I had to redesign an existing publication or website. WVAU has been stuck in mid-redesign, with a great new logo and social media designs done by Art Director Morgan Wheaton, but the website’s redesign was unfortunately halted due for administrative reasons with the AU Student Activities Department (which should hopefully be back in motion soon).

I decided to take WVAU’s new logo and design to a new medium — print. We had always hoped to make a zine for promotional and recruitment purposes, so I designed this with those uses in mind.

Published May 6, 2013 on USA TODAY College.

Volunteering is already a rewarding experience, but a home-cooked meal and camaraderie can make it slightly more enjoyable than your standard park cleanup.

Student volunteers in the Good Eats program at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., come together with members of the city’s ARC community — “Advocacy, Resources and Choices” for those with developmental disabilities — to cook fresh, healthy meals and enjoy each other’s company. The program is run by Kaitlyn Suarez, a sophomore geology major at Union.

“I come from a Greek family and my whole life, I grew up with a large family and food, and I was always in the kitchen wanting to help and prepare — that’s where all the commotion was going on. I’ve always had a passion for food,” Suarez said, 20, originally from Wading River, N.Y. “When I heard about the program, it hit home for me. I’m especially interested in healthy foods and healthy living and being active.”


Courtesy of Kaitlyn Suarez and Good Eats
From left: a Good Eats guest from Schenectady ARC, student volunteer Emanuel Storch, another Good Eats aprticipant and student volunteers Ariel Gomberg and Mary Arnold (Arnold in background). Student and guests come together to prepare the night’s menu of turkey burritos, green salad, guacamole and berry parfaits.

Two to four times a semester, six to seven Schenectady ARC guests visit the Minerva houses at Union College (special residence halls with a full kitchen and living room to complete the homey vibe) with eight to 12 student volunteers to work “side by side and (they) make the whole entire meal from start to scratch,” Suarez said, who makes a point not to do any prep work before the cooking sessions. The Good Eats guests do almost all of the preparation and cooking, while the student volunteers monitor safety and make sure foods such as chicken are properly cooked.

“It’s a hands-on learning experience from menu-planning to making meals and general techniques and health tips for cooking,” she said. “Many of the participants who come have never been able to use knives or cook or have the general freedom in the kitchen.”

Previous dishes include vegetable pizza, stir fry, chicken pasta primavera and lasagna, with desserts of fruits, yogurts and sorbets. Throughout the evening, Suarez gives tips and stresses the importance of local foods, whole grains, brown rice and whole-wheat products.

After the meals are done, “everyone sits down together, we eat and talk about the week and what’s going on, and it’s just like at home,” Suarez said. “And then it’s so nice for the students to have essentially home-cooked meals during school.”


Courtesy of Kaitlyn Suarez and Good Eats
Union College volunteer Ariel Gomberg helps a Good Eats participant prepare the main dish of turkey burritos.

Suarez spearheaded Good Eats at Union as a freshman after an email from the dean’s office sought student leaders to start the program. On top of doing all the organizing she does for Good Eats — shopping for the food, preparing the meal plans, rounding up the volunteers — Suarez also finds time for other activities such as Colleges Against Cancer, the environmental club and Octopus’ Garden. Oh yeah — she’s a finalist for 2013 National STUDENT-Athlete Day Giant Steps Awards, too, for her performance on the cross country and track and field teams. How does she balance it all?

“It’s definitely hard. It’s long nights, but it’s so gratifying. And everything that I do, it just keeps me going,” she said. “The program is unbelievable — so many people appreciate it and I know that when they’re living in the homes, they’re seeing the same faces and for them to come here … they get to see their friends that they may not see every day, and we get to get together as students here, so we see our friends. And we spend two hours together, relaxing cooking, talking about our weeks before we have to head back to school and do work.”

Suarez’s medical history also makes this program all the more meaningful. During high school she faced Hodgkin’s lymphoma three times and underwent a bone marrow transplant to beat the disease. Suarez is now cancer free.

“I spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was getting treatment. And I know for me, being in a hospital, when somebody came and there was an event that happened, it made my entire week and changed the course of my day,” Suarez said.

“I can imagine that living in a home for most of their lives, is kind of the same way when there’s something new that’s different and exciting. … I can just feel and imagine how much fun and deeply appreciative they are of being able to come to Union with college students and be able to spend the evening with us,” she said. “As small as it may be for us, I know that it’s a really big and powerful impact for them. And I’m sure it’s what they look forward to all week, which is an unbelievable feeling to give that to somebody.”

This article is part of USA TODAY College’s Spotlight Series, which features student bands, campus organizations, student entrepreneurs and start-ups, student-run media, student artists and any other students doing cool, admirable and proactive things. If you’d like to nominate a student or an organization, please submit here.

Published April 24, 2013 on USA TODAY College.

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Official poster designed by Morgan Wheaton

Deerhunter’s art-rock noise reverberated off the domed ceiling of D.C.’s Sixth & I Synagogue, under which the capital’s college radio community united for a first-ever collaborative concert this week.

American University’s WVAU, University of Maryland-College Park’s WMUC and George Washington University’s WRGW joined musical forces to bring ambient punk rockers Deerhunter back to D.C. for the first time since October 2010 in the unprecedented District College Radio Presents show. (Georgetown University’s WGTB did not officially participate, but the station helped promote the event.)

“Everyone had really interesting events going on, but there was never really an initiative to put these forces together. And especially because we are working with people who have really cool interests and [are] booking people and have these awesome ideas … I just wanted to meet other people from the stations and see what we could do together.” Paula Mejia, general manager of WRGW and a senior at GW, said.

What they could do together turned out to be not only booking a mesmerizing, dynamic headlining act and selling out an 800+ seat venue in little over one week, but also playing up each station’s strengths — which according to Mejia are: WMUC showcasing live local talent, WVAU booking “awesome” acts and WRGW’s working with businesses and nonprofits — to best reintroduce college radio on the D.C. scene.

“I think it was good for us to put all those things together, all the things we’re good at, and show the big D.C. community what we can do. I think it sets a good legacy for us that we did this first really big show,” Emily Thompson said, live music director at WMUC and a senior at UMD.

While WMUC still operates on a frequency, that’s not the norm for college radio, including their D.C. counterparts. The Internet gives the stations a greater opportunity to reach more people, though it can be difficult to make noise on the depths of the web — especially to the extent of college radio’s influence in the heydey of the late ’80s and early ’90s with launching bands like Black Flag and Mission of Burma, Mejia said.

WVAU General Manager Emily White mentions her station’s unofficial slogan, which continues the theme of college radio stepping up on the local music scene.

“Our joke tagline is always ‘We Exist.’ College radio now sort of exists more for the people within it than the people outside of it, and I think an event like this is important because of that shared communal excitement we get to have and feel ownership of something and do something really cool,” White said. “But it’s also that little ‘hey! College radio! We’re still here! We’re doing something really cool’ to the community.”

Though this was not just an opportunity for district college radio to increase their off-campus presence — on-campus, the stations experienced bumps of support, from members to non-members.

WRGW’s Mejia said several underclassmen expressed interest in joining the station and WVAU’s White said students at American are aware that the station is more than that hallway window into the studio people use to stare at DJs like a fishbowl.

Another bonus for the universities: a limited number of reduced ticket prices, and even free tickets, were made available for students, aiding college radio’s mission and love for sharing music.

The April 22 District College Radio Presents show also marked the first night of Deerhunter’s latest string of shows playing material off their newest record Monomania, set to be released May 7 and available to stream until then via NPR Music. It was only the second time Deerhunter performed since August 2011 — the first being a mysterious, noisy performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Experiencing Deerhunter’s performance was an hour-long visit to frontman Bradford Cox’s strange, wonderful mind, and the Sixth & I Synagogue setting only added to the spiritual vibes. Deerhunter opened their set with a warped jam that led into the trance-inducing “Cryptograms,” from their 2007 record of the same name, covering the surfaces of the venue with noise and distortion. Cox donned a black wig and a white cheetah-print blouse hung on his lanky frame which bent around the stage over his guitar, mic and tambourine (maracas also made an appearance).

The trance continued through the main set closer, lead single and title track off the upcoming Monomania. Though a bit obvious to end with the new single, the song is perfect for that role, with continuous shouts “mono-monomania” and loud, psychedelic droning that likely left ears ringing for days. Before the song ended, Cox slinked off the stage leaving his band members to continue blowing minds (and ears).

New York’s experimental electronic artist MAS YSA was the first opener, appropriately setting the night’s tone with sampling choirs and Counting Crow’s emotional “Colorblind” piano track over dance beats. It’s easy to see why Deerhunter picked the second act Jackson Scott to open their upcoming shows; his odd presence and ambient rock is obviously Cox-inspired, though no where near as fully formed yet — Deerhunter’s soundcheck was noticeably more complete.

Fortunately the headliners weeded out any negativity and promptly set the audience in an hour-long daze.

A ticket to the hypnotic performance was much coveted and understandably so. WRGW GM Mejia said, “Our old GM posted on my Facebook that people were selling tickets on Craigslist, and he’s like, ‘There’s a black market for tickets. Good job.’ We made it.”

Full disclosure: Marissa Cetin is Web Director and a DJ at WVAU.

This article is part of USA TODAY College’s Spotlight Series, which features student bands, campus organizations, student entrepreneurs and start-ups, student-run media, student artists and any other students doing cool, admirable and proactive things. If you’d like to nominate a student or an organization, please submit here.