The Educational Advertising Awards selected the College of Optometry's recruitment video, Welcome Home, as the recipient of a gold award.

The Educational Advertising Awards selected the College of Optometry’s new recruitment video, Welcome Home, as the recipient of a gold award.

Last week, inspiration from an unusual place bore fruit when the Educational Advertising Awards awarded its top prize to a recruitment video for the College of Optometry at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

The idea for the video’s theme, Welcome Home, came to Director of Student and Alumni Services Nick Palisch in the shower.

“It’s the one time that I am left with my own thoughts,” he said.

A group in the college had first thought to create a new video last March, but as the U.S. went under  stay-at-home orders, they had to put the breaks to the project. The slowdown gave the team – comprised of Palisch, Student Support Specialist Ryan Molitor and Graphic Designer Janice White – extra time to think about how to set the UMSL program apart.

In August, the group decided to move forward with a video centered around the holistic experiences of students in and out of class. They sent a survey out to the current students asking why they’d made UMSL their home.

“It tells a story,” Palisch said. “Not just students in the classroom, not just in lecture, not just in the lab but also in a more natural environment where they often find themselves.”

An important piece of the puzzle came in finding a great fit with the production company, JM Films. The owner, Jon Morgan, immediately understood the project and was excited to tell the students’ stories. He even offered up his home as a set for a taco night scene and was the person who submitted the final product to the EAA contest.

The video includes actual UMSL administrators, such as Dean Larry Davis, faculty and students. Everyone who was included volunteered their time.

The result was a naturalistic feel.

“I think the video captures so accurately what this group of students is about,” White said. “They do hang out. They do eat together. They do have fun together. They do all of that together. It’s really cool to see how it all came together.”

The video will serve as the lynchpin of a larger video campaign introducing the faces of UMSL optometry students. So far, the stories of Shelby Griggs, Jabrea Strickland and Halle Neyens are live on the college’s YouTube channel, and Palisch will be rolling out more over the coming months.

All hope that the videos will serve to let prospective students know that not only does UMSL offer a superior education but also a warm, supportive environment.

That’s the real reward, though winning gold didn’t feel too shabby.

“I was excited,” Molitor said. “It was one of those things that I couldn’t take in at one time and didn’t believe it. Then we got a bunch of emails, and the chancellor sent something back to us. And it’s like, ‘OK, this is real.’”

Jessica Rogen

Jessica Rogen