Article by Jessica SchianodiCola | esPResso Staff Writer
The #ReachHigher initiative is an ongoing effort created by First Lady Michelle Obama to stress the importance of obtaining a higher education and to inspire every student in America to pursue an education beyond high school. The movement has rapidly caught on across the country and the initiative’s Signing Day campaign flooded various social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, on May 1.
Recently, Marist College showed its support for the #ReachHigher initiative and joined in the effort to encourage higher education. Mike Hablenko, a senior and resident assistant for Leo Hall at Marist, put together a video to congratulate the nation-wide Class of 2019, some of whom will be the first in their families to go to college.
The video features several Marist students and faculty congratulating the incoming undergraduates and wishing them luck with their future endeavors. It also includes a compilation of scenes from around campus. Michelle Obama even re-posted an photograph of Marist students supporting College Signing Day on Instagram! We spoke with Hablenko to find out more about his video; what went into it and the kind of feedback it received.
Jessica ScianodiCola: How did you get involved with the undertaking of this project?
Mike Hablenko: It really all started when I made the “All I Want For Christmas is You” video with the residents on my floor. After that, the Admissions Office reached out to me and asked me to make a video for Accepted Students/Open House day. So I created an “Uptown Funk/Selfie” music video with my friend Vicky Mulé, who really helped me out a lot to make that what it was. That video was highly successful and is what actually led me to Kelsey Donohue, who is a Marist alumna from the class of 2012 and currently a press aide for the First Lady. After seeing the video, Kelsey reached out to me, as well as the ambassador board, and told us about this Reach Higher campaign. We all really liked the idea of it and collectively decided to make a video highlighting the major points of Michelle Obama’s campaign that are exemplified here at Marist and that would celebrate the next generation of students.
JS: What do you think this video could do for Marist?
MH: I think this video is a very positive thing for Marist College, especially from a public relations point of view, in a sense that it highlights a lot of the commendable aspects of the Marist environment. For instance, we used some shots from Fox Fest and clips of a lot of students doing different things around campus, and I think that really emphasized the strong, communal culture that can be found here at Marist. But furthermore, we were congratulating a nation-wide class of students, not just those coming to Marist, so that also showed how supportive we are about this #ReachHigher campaign and how much we believe in higher education.
JS: What kind of feedback did you receive after the video was released?
MH: I got a lot of positive feedback for the video, which was great. A lot of the faculty and administration were very pleased with the video’s outcome and I think the student body was as well. The video generated a good amount of views and so many people were sharing it on their Facebook pages, which gave it more publicity. Overall, I was really proud about it, especially because we didn’t really have a lot of time to work on it, yet we still managed to really embody the culture here at Marist and apply it to the message of Michelle Obama’s #ReachHigher initiative.