Student’s big idea creates Big Ideas Columbia


Photo Courtesy of Kathryn Walters

Senior public relations major Kathryn Walters, along with the Office of Student Communications, organized Big Ideas Columbia, an event for students to learn what it means to be successful during and after college.

By Senior Campus Reporter

The office of Student Communications is teaming up with senior public relations major Kathryn Walters to produce Big Ideas Columbia. 

Big Ideas Columbia will be held Feb. 26 from 4–6 p.m. at Film Row Cinema in the 1104 S. Wabash Ave. Building. The event will feature networking opportunities, an alumni Q-and-A panel, a documentary screening and free food, affording a student’s viewpoint on what the college community views as success.

Walters came up with the theme and event in an introductory public relations course with Anne Marie Mitchell, associate professor in the Communication and Media Innovation Department. 

“[Our class] had been studying internal communications and stakeholder groups,” Mitchell said. “When I saw that Dr. Kim was new to the college and was making an impact through communications in a new and different way, we decided to study what he was doing and what he had been doing at many student events.”

The class became a practicum class and offered ideas to the president’s office. From there, President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim offered to sponsor Walters’ event and encouraged setting her up with Student Communications to offer an internship experience to get the event up and running. 

“Big Ideas Columbia believes in the Columbia College community as a whole,” Walters said. “For this event [the BIC team] wanted to take the topic of success and use it as a tool to begin conversation between students and alumni because that relationship has never seemed to be a strong focus.”

Walters said strengthening the relationship between current students and alumni and improving communications between the two groups of Columbia’s community would strengthen the college’s overall success rate.

“I think [student/alumni relationships are] a missed opportunity right now,” Walters said.

The event places a strong focus on building these relationships, Walters said. Similarly, she, along with the Student Communications team of videographers, graphic designers and photographers, worked together to create a documentary to screen at the event. 

“We interviewed alumni and current students about success, what success is, their own journey in success and [we tried] to focus on community as well and how community impacts success and what a successful community looks like,” Walters said. 

Nissan Wasfie, director of Student Communications, said the documentary would allow the audience to walk away with new ideas of how they define success.

“So often we associate financial success with success or say some sort of celebrity status with success,” Wasfie said. “I think we need to re-examine that as a society but even as a school of amazing artists and creative folks, we need to take a step back and talk about personal success. What does it mean for you to be successful?”

A Q-and-A panel of successful alumni will be part of BIC to answer success questions and to answer any other questions from current students in the audience, Walters said. 

“I think what Kathryn [Walters] is trying to say here is that you don’t have to be in the public domain in order to be successful,” Wasfie said.

Wasfie said he is excited that the president and his staff recognized a real talent in Walters as she is on her way to success as well.

“She’s got her s–t together,” Wasfie said. “She came in with an idea [and] job descriptions of the people she needed to get this thing done. She’s highly motivated and very organized.”

However, Walters credits the Student Communications staff equally. 

“It really has been a team effort and it has to be,” Walters said. “There’s no way I could have done any of this on my own.”