Lander Senior Nominated for College Broadcaster Award
Tuesday, Oct 18, 2016
sydney wells
Lander University senior Sydney Wells, of Greenwood, is one of five mass communications students nationwide to be nominated for the 2016 College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) National Student Production Award for short audio documentary. The winner of the award will be announced in Philadelphia on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Before transferring to Lander University, Sydney Wells of Greenwood struggled to find her true self while enrolled at one of the largest colleges in the region.

After switching majors several times, she decided to enroll at Lander and major in Mass Communications, one of the school’s signature programs. The change definitely worked.

Today, her self-confidence is obvious and she is one of five mass communications students nationwide to be nominated for the 2016 College Broadcasters, Inc. (CBI) National Student Production Award for short audio documentary.

The surprising part is that Wells was only after a good grade for her documentary, not an award. But after hearing her work, her instructor instantly knew he had a potential winner in his classroom.

Second Consecutive Year Lander Student Nominated for Same Award
In 2015, Lander alumna Ann Scott O’Brian, of Columbia, was nominated for and eventually won the same award that Wells is up for this year.

Difficult and Personal Subject
While she initially intended to talk about a generic topic for her documentary, Wells eventually decided to focus on her struggles with mental health. “It was definitely a difficult decision to make the documentary about such a personal topic, but I’m glad I did,” she said.

Entitled “Beyond The Stigma,” Wells’ documentary features her own thoughts and experiences as well as interviews with her mother and boyfriend.

“Interviewing my mother was tough because she felt so guilty, saying that she felt she ‘should have seen it (my illness) coming.’ My boyfriend talked about the difficulties of dealing with my changing emotions. Their perspectives are critical to the overall story because my mental illness affects everyone around me,” Wells explained.

The Stigma of Mental Illness
Wells’ passion for exposing the stigma associated with mental illness is palpable. “People do not treat someone with a mental illness the same way they treat a person with a physical illness. If someone has a disease they’re met with thoughts of ‘I hope you get better.’ People with a mental illness are immediately judged. And the judgment is usually based upon what they think they know about mental illness. In actuality, a mental illness is the result of a chemical imbalance, and there are many, many people just like me.”

Award to be Presented in Philadelphia
Wells and her professor, Paul Crutcher, will make the trip to Philadelphia for the CBI Awards presentation on Oct. 22.

“What I liked best about Sydney's documentary was the honesty in which she told her story and the principles we had learned in class which she executed very well,” explained Crutcher.

“We use the Ira Glass (This American Life) model for my Media 312 Advanced Radio class which really means you as a narrator begin with the action...the anecdote which is really just a series of events one after the other. Questions are raised from the beginning which must be answered by the end of your story.

"Sydney did all of this perfectly using, sound effects and her voice as a powerful narration. When you listen to her story you are actually in the doctor's office waiting area with her. It is visual. The way the story unfolds draws the listener in, and she says so many important things in that short span of time. I really think it will connect with anyone who is struggling with bipolar disorder or something similar to know there is life beyond such a diagnosis.”