My First Grant As a Documentarian!

Sometimes I’m hesitant to share good news because I get scared it’ll cause the pendulum to swing the other way, but I’m a bit too excited for caution today:

As 2022 was coming to a close, it felt like things were going wrong left and right. My one and only hard drive failed, losing access to all my footage from my documentary and the new laptop I’d waited a year to purchase broke after less than a month. Mentally, I was still adjusting to life without antidepressants and struggling to grapple with the anxiety—and dread—that often comes with being a college senior on the cusp of graduation. 

About an hour ago, while I was sitting on the banks of a river I used to photograph as a teen when pretending to work for National Geographic, I found out I was awarded the Neimeyer-Hodgson Grant for my production, Paper Birds—my first grant as a documentarian! In addition to that, I was recently invited to present on my project for Millersville University of Pennsylvania’s Ville Voice Speakers series and—perhaps most excitingly—a few weeks ago I was accepted to premiere my film at NCUR 2023 in Wisconsin (all expenses paid trip thanks to my university). 

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be at an institution that strives to uplift the work of it’s students. While this project has definitely come with an emotional tax (and at times, what feels like a cosmic curse), rounding the corner on years of work and starting to see the fruits of your labor renders a sense of accomplishment I’ve never known before. 

If you’d like to learn more about the project, click on Paper Birds found under the “Projects” tab. The tide always comes back in eventually, and I like to think the good we try to put into the world has a way of making itself back to us if we have the courage to wait. 

(And a big thanks to my fellow classmates who’ve so graciously volunteered their talents and time to this production, as well as my professor, Dr. Chang, who’s taught me everything I know about film and encouraged me to pursue this medium in the first place. I am where I am today because of the people that believed in me!)

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