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Faces of First Place: Communications Students Share Winning Secrets

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What does it take to stand out among thousands of competitors? 

Four Cal State Fullerton communications students, whose work took top honors in national and statewide competitions in fall semester, share how it takes passion, resilience and opportunities to practice and master a craft. Here are their stories of success:

Alex Bosserman ’20 (B.A. communications-advertising, minor in philosophy)

Bosserman Solipsism Comic Strip
Credit: Alex Bosserman

“Solipsism” (Daily Titan) won 1st place, Best Comic Strip at the College Media Association 2019-20 Pinnacle Awards

The comic is the combination of my interests — art, philosophy, marketing and design.

During summer 2019, we were brainstorming ways to refresh the Daily Titan’s leisure page, and a comic was the first obvious choice. The challenge was that it meant nearly 50 complete comics for a single semester — no small task. 

While listening to lectures in my philosophy classes, I suddenly realized the material for the comic was right in front of me. The name of the comic, “Solipsism,” is a philosophical theory that says the self is all that can be known to exist. It sounds quite egotistical, and I wanted to flip it into something that was positive — like little life lessons.

I think it won because solipsisms were like little meditations on problems that many students, including me, were facing every day.

Kristen Cuaresma ’20 (B.A. communications-public relations)

Kristen Cuaresma (center) and PRSSA student leaders. Credit: Kristen Cuaresma (pre-pandemic photo)

CSUF’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) was named 2020 National Outstanding Chapter of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America

I think we won Best Chapter for many reasons, and it took a while to get there. In my two-year presidency of PRSSA, I built the foundation — relationships with nationals and making CSUF a known thing. Recognition started in 2018 when we hosted the regional conference, which gave us momentum for hosting the 2019 international conference. 

Ethics has always been a big part of PR, but our chapter took it a step further, creating a mandatory training for our student-run public relations firm. With COVID-19, local small businesses needed help, so we came up with “Tuff it Out” to provide free public relations assistance for them.

What I’m most proud of though, is providing access for our members. First, resources and tools to help students figure out what they want to do in their careers. Second, financially. We created a program called PRSSA Pals. We reached out to alumni, sponsors and supporters, asking them to donate to pay for memberships to PRSSA, giving more students access to the group.

Giselle Martinez, communications-journalism

Gabriela Martinez and Al Dia Team Virtual Reporting
Students broadcast from their homes amid the pandemic. Credit: Jesus Ayala

Coronavirus: Pandemia Mundial,” “Al Día” won 1st place, Best Video Newscast at the College Media Association 2019-20 Pinnacle Awards

As an executive producer for “Al Día,” I was dedicated to creating content covering breaking news. We did the pandemic special because it was something that was taking over people’s lives. 

A lot of the students who worked on the special were volunteers — not in the class but willing to be a part of the project. I helped come up with content ideas, wrote them out in English and Spanish, and participated in the filming (outside) and editing. It felt like a real production, not a school program. I got great experience that I can apply to the real world.  

I think it won because we took the initiative and covered such a big topic in a timely manner, and our passion was evident through our work. We didn’t just cover the virus but a range of topics like politics and health that were affected by it. And the broadcast invited a wider audience because it was in Spanish with subtitles.  

Jake Toohey, cinema and television arts

Credit: Jake Toohey

Coronostalgia’ won the Audience Choice award at the 30th Annual CSU Media Arts Festival

To me, nostalgia is a constant source of joy and peace. “Coronostalgia” is a film about daydreams. It includes unscripted sound bites from my friends explaining their dreams for life after quarantine. It captures the importance of joy and optimism during life in quarantine. 

The film is shot on real 8mm film, and I learned a lot. I have always wanted to shoot a project on film due to the saturated colors and texture you cannot get with digital cameras. I actually bought a broken camera on eBay and fixed it myself! To capture new memories on an old camera made this film even more special. 

I think “Coronostalgia” won audience choice because it sparked a feeling — perhaps gratitude, joy, hope or something in between. It was up to the audience to feel and decide.

Learn more about CSUF’s communications offerings on the College of Communications website.

Karen Lindell