C-Span (Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network) is a great asset to government transparency and the democratic process, but it does so much more than record government affairs. This semester, Karianna Torres ’21 is interning for C-Span’s Department of Education, a branch of the network that is used as a resource for teachers by devising lesson plans and video competitions to get students involved in government affairs.
Torres is one of 16 students beginning their internships for Hamilton’s spring semester Program in Washington, D.C. During her first week as an intern, Torres judged videos submitted by students to C-Span’s “StudentCam Competition,” which is asking students to create a short documentary on the question: “What does it mean to be an American?”
During her senior year of high school, Torres herself participated in the StudentCam Competition, and now she is on the other side and judging videos. “What I really like about StudentCam is that it involves students in government and has them formulate their own opinions and thoughts,” said Torres.
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
High School: Bronx Center for Science and Mathematics
Participants have answered this year’s StudentCam question in a variety of ways, ranging their focuses from immigration, to different Constitutional Amendments, to complex artistic depictions of the United States as a melting pot.
C-Span sets up conferences with members of Congress to meet with 150 selected winners to give them an opportunity to discuss their ideas with elected officials.
Torres reflected on the differences between the video submissions in 2016, when she competed, to the videos she is currently reviewing in 2019. “There’s so much more media editing technology now, and it’s great that education is updating itself with the technology in this way. The students could have just written an essay explaining what it means to be an American, but the StudentCam Competition leaves more room for creativity,” said Torres.
The relationship between media, technology, and education is something she plans on exploring further in the Washington Program’s required Intern-Participation Student Presentation class, where students choose topics they want to present related to their internship. After becoming more familiar with the many resources C-Span’s Department of Education offers, Torres wants to share how it has used technology and media to help educate students across the country.
“I really like my internship because I know how C-Span can be such a great resource and it’s great to contribute to that resource. It does much more than just record government proceedings,” said Torres. “For example, their television series Washington Journal allows students to call in and answer questions the night before the AP U.S. exam as a crash course. I wish I would have known that when I was in high school!” Other programs in C-Span’s Department of Education include Book TV, a TV series that discusses non-fiction books; American History TV; and the C-Span Classroom website, which provides teachers with lesson plans.
After the StudentCam Competition ends, Torres will learn how to create lesson plans for C-Span Classroom on a topic of her choice. She can choose between a discussion/debate-related topic and a history based topic, and plans on making a debate-style lesson plan. In it, she plans to explore the effects of social media and technology as it relates to the career path she hopes to pursue.
In January, Torres participated in Hamilton’s New York City job shadowing program where she shadowed Jacob Frost ’15, a performance strategy supervisor at Media Assembly. “I’m learning that what you present to the public is really important so I think I want to go into communications or marketing,” she said.
Despite this newfound sense of clarity in the direction she will pursue, Torres still plans to take advantage of Hamilton’s open curriculum by exploring different fields before making a final decision.