Northern Illinois University

Northern Today

Professor to students: ‘You’re going to Hollywood’

January 28, 2008

by Tom Parisi

Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson haven’t cornered the market on the catchphrase, “You’re going to Hollywood!”

Chipotle team

At NIU, it belongs to NIU Communication Professor Laura Vazquez.

Vazquez next month will take 13 communications students who have interest in the television and film industry to Los Angeles, where they’ll have a chance to hobnob with alums in the biz at a Feb. 15 gathering sponsored by the NIU Alumni Association.

The students are all seniors or December graduates and were all in Vazquez’s advanced media production course last semester.

Vazquez said she is paying for their airfare with the university’s share of prize money from the Chipotle Mexican Grill video advertisement contest.

Last semester, four of Vazquez’s students – seniors Chris Darkes, Brittany Samson, Sara Honchar and Joe Giorgi – tied for first place in the nationwide contest with their entry, titled “Just the Fax.” The students received $7,500 in prize money, with an equal amount going to the university.

The NIU Vice Provost’s Office also is providing funding support for the three-day Los Angeles visit. Students will have time to take in the sights, including Hollywood Boulevard, and are being encouraged to tour Universal Studios. The “Just the Fax” foursome will be among those making the trip.

“Several of my students had already consulted with me about the possibility of finding jobs in the Los Angeles area after graduation,” Vazquez said. “I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for them to network with alums who have established careers in the industry.”

Some of the videos created by the students will be screened at the alumni event.

“Our alums enjoy engaging with students and finding out what NIU is like now,” Vazquez added. “I think it will be an energizing experience for everyone.”