My name is Daniel Woody-Guyton. I am a rising junior studying Film and Video at Drexel University. At Drexel, outside of my academics, I work part time at Gap, I write for the school newspaper, The Triangle, I am the vice chair of Dragon 24, a student advisory circle to the Provost’s office, and I also volunteer with GEAR UP. Contrary to popular belief, it may not seem like I have a lot of time to get my schoolwork done, but I still am very passionate about what I do.
Outside of all the things I am personally committed to, volunteering is very important to me because I’m not just doing it for myself. In GEAR UP, I am a tutor/mentor for high school students in the Philadelphia area. It means the world to me to see that they get the same opportunities to higher education that I did when I was growing up. I try to have them recognize their dreams, because once you do, nothing can stop you from achieving them. I know kids dream of many different things, but learning of the few kids’ interest in things like film, media arts, and video production changed my perspective on volunteering.
To me, this was an opportunity to reach anyone in the community and give back the skills we had been fostering since the start of our education at Drexel University.
The Lindy Center’s Community Engagement Mini-Grant program was an opportunity to bridge the divide between those things. The Mini-Grant program awarded several college students grant money to run a community service project of our own creation. To me, this was an opportunity to reach anyone in the community and give back the skills we had been fostering since the start of our education at Drexel University. I created the project “Omega Cinema.” The mission behind the project “Omega Cinema” was to educate middle school and high school students in the Philadelphia area on the filmmaking process and give them hands-on experience. For many students, this would be their first time seeing real film equipment and having the chance to interact with it, as well as learning about what happens behind the scenes. I wanted this project to happen to inspire young students to follow their dreams, especially if that dream fell in media arts, film, and video. Good news is, I was also not the only one who followed suit in this project. My teammates, Alyssa Harden (Screenwriting), Jeremy Lieberman (Film and Video), and Sophia Nelson (Game Design and Production), all fellow sophomores, also wanted to see this through.
Film classes are limited at many neighborhood high schools and art programs everywhere across the school district are becoming downsized, so it is very important to provide alternative access to arts and culture programming. We taught our students about screenwriting; explained the inner workings of big budget films; showed them basic shooting, lighting, and sound setups; and had them act professionally in a mock film set.
Working with the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement and the Dornsife Center staff through the Community Engagement Mini-Grant has been a very fulfilling experience. I realized that all these great people were here making a difference to so many members of the community. They openly encouraged Drexel students who wanted to become civically engaged and welcomed any ideas, turning them into thought-out programming for people to take part in. They helped me turn a big idea into something tangible, and I saw the effect that it had on the kids who participated. The greatest thing to hear was one of the students asking me about this program running again next year. The biggest takeaway from this project is that no matter how small, the impact you make on one person will go a long way. The amount of students that had initially registered for our program was very limited. Despite the numbers, for those who stayed the whole way through, I like to believe those students finished as different kids than when they started. I knew that even if one student signed up for this program, I would make it count and make sure that this student learned everything we could teach them about film. Our students had a vast introduction about the entire filmmaking process from start to finish. We had opened their eyes to an entirely new world.
Giving back creates an impact to change someone’s life for the better, and it’s an experience like no other. The impact it has had on me is that no matter what your skill, major, or craft — you have the ability to make a difference. Sharing my passion for film with youth inspired me to continue doing what I love; and inspiring them gave me an invaluable amount of joy.