Weedsport High School graduates Omneya Aboushanab (‘12) and Luke Baker (‘08) have recently been taking great strides and accomplishments in the world of TV production. Omneya is attending college at Syracuse University where she majors in broadcasting and digital journalism with two minors in Middle Eastern Studies and African American studies. Luke went to college at Le Moyne where he studied Communications with concentration on Video Production. Both alumni have made it far into their journey, and both feel that college and their experiences were a big help for them and taught them valuable lessons to share with younger students who may be thinking about attending college for video production.
How did college prepare you for life?
Omneya: “It taught me about the real world, and all the different types of people you are going to encounter. Best of all, it taught me about myself, and the type of person I am. College showed me that I am much stronger and smarter than I thought I was. It allowed me to grow into a fearless person, that is not scared of the world around her.”
What would you want to tell students that are worried about college?
Omneya: “The best piece of advice that was given to me, and that I am going to pass on to anyone scared of college is this: It’s going to be okay. You have to take the time to find yourself, and to allow yourself to grow as a person and a student. College is scary, that’s normal, but you have to just take it day by day. There is nothing worse than getting caught up in all the little details, and then losing yourself. – Attending Syracuse University, specifically Newhouse, was the best decision of my life. The Newhouse Mafia, as we like to call it, is everywhere. This doesn’t just apply to Newhouse really, it applies to the entire university. No matter where you go, someone there graduated from Syracuse University, and that is automatically going to give you a boost. Aside from that, you are learning from some of the greatest professors, and they truly do all they can to pass down all of their skills and connections.”
Where are you working now?
Omneya: “I am graduating in May so right now I am working on starting my own show, while also anchoring a show on campus called Mornings On The Hill. My main focus right now is building my platform and reel, as well as finding a job of course.”
Did interning help you on your road to getting where you are now? What would students that are thinking about interning need to know before going into it?
Omneya: “Interning is key. You can have the greatest education in the world, but without the experience, it’s useless. I have interned all over the place, and it has helped me tremendously. It will help build your resume, your website, and your network. Both are extremely important, especially networking. Everyone should intern. No matter what your field of interest is, you should find some way to get involved with an internship, or even just a shadowing position for a few days. There is no textbook in the world that could teach you what you can learn in a day of interning. It allows you to live that life of a professional. It puts you into the real world, and gives you a glimpse of life after college.”
How would you say the role of diversity changed when you transitioned from Weedsport to SU?
Omneya: “Weedsport is a small town as we all know, so the diversity is a much smaller scale than at SU. That being said, while more diverse than Weedsport, SU could still improve on their diversity aspects. I can only speak for Newhouse, since that’s where I am most of the time…the number of minority and international students is very small. Diversity is stressed much more at the University level, but there is still a long way to go. It is not unusual for me to be the only student of color sitting in one of my classes. There are lots of organizations and committees on campus to try and change this, but it is a continuing effort, that I spoke on very passionately throughout my college career.”
How did college prepare you for life?
Luke: “That’s a tough question. College was awesome and my most notable experiences there really transcended the classroom. I’d say that learning about my classmates and professors, all of them with different experiences and backgrounds, helped me grow as a person and prepare me for post-grad life. That’s my biggest takeaway. In life you’ll work with so many different people and they all have a unique story. I think that is what ultimately led me to focus on video production. Being able to learn about other people and share their stories has become one of my greatest passions.”
What advice would you like to give to students that are worried about college?
Luke: “First of all, don’t worry! If you decide to go to college you will find your niche and grow as an individual. I don’t think anyone is exempt from that. Just take it day by day, be your best self, and take advantage of absolutely every opportunity, because four years goes by really fast!”
Where are you currently working?
Luke: “I’m currently the senior video producer at the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. We help bring tools and resources to local non-profits to help make the community a better place. As a video producer it’s my job to find compelling stories of the good work that’s done in Buffalo, then shoot and edit video to translate that story on-screen.”
What’s it like working for a community organization?
Luke: “Being part of my community has always been very important to me. I’m obviously not from Buffalo (my wife is), so working so closely with different organizations in the area has helped me form a connection to this community. The people I work with are also incredibly passionate about the work that we do. Working for a non-profit is not glamorous, but knowing that you’re able to make a difference for so many people is incredibly rewarding.”
What was the experience like transitioning from a small town to a bigger working environment?
Luke: “After graduating from Le Moyne, I moved to New York City to work on the production team for a health news company. Talk about a culture shock! Between the subway system and navigating Manhattan, it was a far cry from growing up in Weedsport and I was turned upside down. But it didn’t take long before I could tell you how to get from one place to another like a seasoned pro. Like going to college, I just had to take it day-by-day and make sure I did my best work at every opportunity.”