Growing a Student Chapter: RIT Adding Projects, Speakers

By Katelyn Umholtz

ATHENS, GA (August 6, 2016) - As a semester starts winding down, or another is close to starting, NPPA student organizations make plans for the future. For the Rochester Institute of Technology’s chapter, this means multiple plans.

Dominique Hessert, this year’s RIT NPPA president, said their first action is to grow communication with NPPA’s other big student chapters.

“We're trying to create some kind of project with the election coming up,” Hessert said. “The goal is to collaborate with other schools, like Syracuse University and Western Kentucky University.”

Outside of the election, Hessert said her members want to be more like other NPPA student organizations. Part of that means inviting more speakers.

Normally, she said, meetings have consisted mostly of voting for the best picture of the week. But Hessert has already made plans to change that. Her goal with guest speakers is to bring in more working visual journalists speaking on behalf of the industry.

“We're going to meet every other week and have some kind of speaker at each meeting, whether it be [local journalists] or a visiting photojournalist,” Hessert said.

This could even help the organization bring in more freshmen and sophomore students, which Hessert said the club has desperately been lacking. Those first two years of school typically have very little exposure to photojournalism.

“We have an elements course, but that's all you really get.” Hessert said. “The NPPA is just a good club to be in to be immersed into photojournalism.”

More importantly, Hessert wants to keep up with the trends of the industry. Because most of their members know that being just a photographer doesn’t cut it anymore, she has decided to bring in different workshops for students in interests that fall outside of photography. This could include web development, videography, writing, and other essential practices Hessert feels will help the club.

Overall, she hopes the members can also develop story ideas.

“We're starting off with a project about the election, but the goal is to be thinking about other stories as well,” Hessert said.

If nothing else, she said she really hopes the members use the chapter as a networking opportunity, especially her soon-to-be graduating members.

“We don't want to totally isolate ourselves,” Hessert said. “We're trying to create a really nice family in the photojournalism community.”