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OHIO in LA program virtually engages students

Around this time each year, students who have applied to Ohio University’s OHIO in LA internship program would be making the trek down to Los Angeles to begin the program. 

However, due to COVID-19 and traveling restrictions, the program has switched to take place virtually this year. 

Typically, the program involved juniors and seniors from various majors hearing from entertainment companies and getting a feel for what it's like to work in the entertainment industry. They also earn credit hours through courses while in the program. 

“We typically have several workshops and opportunities for students to earn their internship credit hours,” Roger Cooper, director of the program, said.

Warner Brothers, Universal Studios and several other big production companies are involved in the making of the program. At the end of the internship, students come together to produce a short film.

Despite the coronavirus concerns shutting down the in-person experience, the program is not stopping. While moving to virtual has proven to be somewhat challenging for some programs, Cooper knows this is one program that will not suffer. 

“We are mostly asynchronous even before the program went fully virtual, with only one class being in-person,” Cooper said. 

Planning for the virtual program began in mid-July when he and the other professors working on the program decided to still give students the experience they worked for, even if it was through a virtual format. The program will run with workshops and guest speakers all online and students are still producing a short film at the end of the program that will be shown in Athens. Students who signed up for the program still may have an opportunity to go to Los Angeles in the spring or summer. 

While the experience of physically going to Los Angeles is lost, the spirit and drive in the program is not. 

“I see how the students are still working hard, and I hear afterwards from guest speakers how wonderful the students are, and it makes me want to work hard and make the program good,” Cooper said. 

Even in the virtual setting, students still feel the program will be beneficial. 

“It’s a really good way to get your foot in the door,” Stazy Mazo, a senior studying screenwriting and producing, said. “Even virtually, you get to meet so many people and get a lot of experience that is hard to get otherwise.”

Another big loss one would think would be the loss of a face-to-face connection and opportunities. 

“We’re striving to make as much of it as engaging as possible,” Cooper said. “I’m even meeting with some students who are on campus for coffee.” 

Although the struggles of technology and no physical contact are challenging, Mazo and Cooper feel this is still an amazing experience that will prove to be eye-opening to things not done before by the program.

“This is giving me and others a chance to do things we may not have been able to do even in LA that I may implement into the next year,” Cooper said.


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