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Campus & Community Student Features

CSB and SJU students honored at Upper Midwest Emmy Student Production Awards Ceremony

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University were well represented among the award recipients at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Upper Midwest Chapter’s 2023 Student Production Awards on March 31.

Extending the Link — a student-run organization that annually produces documentary films focused on under-told social justice issues at home and abroad — received a Crystal Pillar award for “Diverse Bodies, Beautiful Minds: Voices of Disability Activism.”

“Extending the Link is honored and proud to receive the Upper Midwest Student Production Award,” said Mari Hermerding ’23, the current co-director of ETL and part of the team that worked on the project. “In a typical year, ETL travels abroad to film for our annual documentary. However, due to the global pandemic, we had to readjust our plans and think creatively for our 13th documentary. 

“ETL had the unique opportunity to connect with and interview disability rights activists from around the world.  The ETL team worked long and hard to produce an ethically-told documentary. To have our work recognized by the NATAS board reinvigorates our dedication to social justice.  ETL wants to dedicate our award to both Judy Heumann and Sen. David Durenberger, two late disability activists. We worked closely with them on Diverse Bodies, Beautiful Minds’ and none of this would have been possible without their support.”

Johnnie Bennie Media received a Crystal Pillar award in the music video category for the song “Where is My Mind” by the student band Collegeville Dropouts.

“From reaching out to the band, setting up multiple pre-production meetings, recruiting the right people to put everything together, to editing for many hours; it truly does mean a lot to see the project I got to produce, win a NATAS award,” said Josh Ehlen, a producer and editor on the project who graduated after the fall semester. “I’m not only very thankful for the way it turned out, but also for the amount of hands this project was touched by.

“The most rewarding part of it all is that I was able to get a team of 18 people together with one goal in mind… to create something amazing.”

SJU student Nick McGrane ’24, who was a member of the ETL and Johnnie Bennie Media teams, also received a Crystal Pillar award in the video essay category for his work as the director, cinematographer and editor of “For the Sake of a Single Poem with George Maurer,” a short documentary on the making of a GPS-located sound walk created by 1988 SJU graduate and acclaimed musician George Maurer.

The sound walk features original recordings by Maurer and conversations he had with Fr. Mark Thamert, OSB, a professor emeritus at CSB and SJU, about the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke and artistic expression before Thamert died in 2017

“I was very happy to receive nominations for this year’s awards,” McGrane said. “My project with George Maurer has been my favorite to date as I got to learn more about George and his creative mind while also displaying the beauty of the Saint John’s campus. I was (also) incredibly happy to see an award going to Extending the Link. I think the work we are doing at ETL is very important and sparks the right conversations. 

“For me, our project on disability activism last year was a truly impactful experience. I’m very happy to be finding such great collaborators and creative artists through the CSB and SJU community and I hope to continue to challenge myself in my projects. It was a special feeling seeing my work receive awards.”

This year’s Upper Midwest Emmy Student Production Awards Ceremony was held at the Graduate Minneapolis hotel.

Student awards