Producer, NW Stories
Senior, Journalism and History Major, SOJC Honors program
Producer, “63 Years Later”
Co-founding editor of Majesty, a social media publication by women of color for women of color
Honors thesis: How South Asian women in the diaspora are using Instagram to challenge traditional notions of identity
Dream job: Producer or director working with communities for a human rights organization or media company
The human effects of the NW Stories Vietnam project: I didn't realize the impact of what we were doing until the screening event. Veterans were there writing and talking about their experiences in Vietnam. That blew my mind—that human moment of seeing 80-year-old men break down in front of an audience, because no one had ever asked them how they're doing or told them what they went through mattered. They felt like they had been heard. It's so rare, as a storyteller, to see the effect of your work on somebody.
Learning from your mistakes: I think the point of experiential learning is to just keep learning, because otherwise there’s no point in all the mistakes we made. In Vietnam, we learned it’s OK to not be perfect, to ask for help, and to lean on the team. It’s OK to struggle and not have great days. It has been such a blessing to learn from one project and apply what I learned to another project.
Talking about the project on job interviews: It was daunting to have autonomy and agency over a project like this as a senior in college. But what an opportunity! I was interviewing at a production company in New York recently, and when they asked me what production experience I had, I was able to say, ‘This is the lifeline of a project, and I saw it through from start to finish.
“I saw this project through from inception to completion, from when it was a seed of an idea to when it was executed. As a producer, that’s a dream come true.” — Srushti Kamat
Telling Stories of the Pacific Northwest, At Home and Abroad
There’s something special about the Pacific Northwest—and the people who live here have interesting stories to tell.
Those remarkable people are the inspiration for “NW Stories,” an experimental documentary series produced by School of Journalism and Communication students in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Much like the people it profiles, “NW Stories”—which airs once a year on OPB—defies expectations. Students get full creative control over the stories. And they tell them in out-of-the-box ways, engaging audiences in the filmmaking process via social media and live events. The approach has earned UO student filmmakers a number of awards, including two Northwest Emmy nominations for short documentaries, on environmental filmmaker Tim Lewis and Bruce Yelle, a Parkinson’s patient who moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity Act.
In 2017, the boundary-pushing program challenged even the concept of “Northwest.” Over the summer, OPB invited a team of seven UO students to produce interactive multimedia stories designed to interest millennials the Vietnam War. It was part of the network’s campaign to promote its critically acclaimed documentary series by Ken Burns.
The resulting project, “63 Years Later,” links Vietnam to Oregon through stories about the state’s veterans and protesters. The students tracked down Oregon residents with connections to Vietnam, such as Brian Briggs, who befriended a Vietnamese third grade teacher named Ms. Xuan when he fought in the war. Almost 40 years later, Biggs returned to Vietnam to reunite with Xuan—and the “NW Stories” students were there to capture it.
Watch another powerful episode from this year’s “NW Stories” above, and see the rest at 63yearslater.com.
What Our Alumni Are Saying
“As a student producer for NW Stories, we were responsible for finding subjects, managing interviews, filming background footage and editing everything into a compelling short documentary. Today, I do the exact same thing for NBC News, and the stakes haven't changed a bit. For Tag, each week I highlight an eccentric and often inspiring person who is recommended by viewers across the country. Like NW Stories, this approach to storytelling helps create empathy among Americans.” — Sutton Raphael
BA '16 (Journalism)
Member of NW Stories team that produced “Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson,” which won a 2015 Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award in Television Feature Reporting
Raphael is a video journalist for NBC News and NBC Left Field, where he hosts and produces the crowdsourced documentary series “Tag.” His short films have been featured on “Oregon Lens” and selected for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival and the Portland Young Filmmakers Showcase.
Choose Your Own Adventure