New student video reveals path that brings seekers to Vanderbilt, the Wond’ry

An inquisitive young woman runs her finger along rows of engineering books, searching for one that holds the information she needs.

A determined young man practices football drills on a deserted field, while another stares intently at sheet music, coaxing out a tentative few bars on his piano before the goosebump-inducing allegretto.

The three represent how a group of Vanderbilt students see the path that brings diverse seekers to their university and the Wond’ry, its center for innovation and entrepreneurship. Those paths are featured in a new, student-produced promotional video that demonstrates collaborative efforts that happen outside the lab, the gym and the studio.

“It began as an idea to make a simple Wond’ry promo but evolved into a larger opportunity to also tell the story of the path to Vanderbilt for prospective students and to inspire people who graduated from here,” said Ziyi Liu, a junior human and organizational development major and ambassador for the Wond’ry.

Liu, the video’s director, asked for support from Robert Grajewski, Evans Family Executive Director of the Innovation Center at Vanderbilt University, which includes the Won’dry. Grajewski immediately signed on. “Innovative, creative and unique, the resulting video represents what the Wond’ry truly is: a nexus for collaboration,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of what our students created.”

Hustler colleagues pitch in

For help, Liu turned to his colleagues at the Hustler, Vanderbilt’s student-produced newspaper, where he is photo and multimedia director. Before long, there were five of them meeting weekly at the Wond’ry for storyboarding and other tasks. They recruited actors Somto Dimobi, a sophomore chemical engineering major, Sam Dobbs, a Commodore tight end and junior cinema and media arts major, and David Rodgers, who graduates May 12 with a degree in piano performance and also wrote the video’s musical score.

The group spent hours more – Liu estimated his own contribution at about 30 per week since February — scouting locations, shooting and editing.

Their effort wasn’t for class credit or money. The team ended up creating for themselves something similar to DIVE (Design as an Immersive Vanderbilt Experience), a program at Vanderbilt University that teaches human-centered design approaches to solve complex problems, develop critical thinking skills and work in multidisciplinary teams on specific, mentored projects.

“After hearing so much about the importance of immersive learning, it was an incredible experience to make a video with my fellow classmates,” said Claire Barnett, a freshman human and organizational development major. “Freshmen through seniors, we learned how to operate cameras and lighting equipment, edit video and do other things we never would have just sitting in a classroom.”

Professors, others offer critique

Team members revealed the final product for critique on May 1 to an audience of film and business professors, videographers and public relations professionals from across the university. They received valuable feedback to incorporate into this video and future projects.

“We were all excited about it at the beginning and working with a lot of vague ideas,” said Blake Dover, assistant director on the video, who graduates next week with his degree in economics. “A few times, I thought this would never happen — that we would go to a few meetings and it would fizzle out — but the Wond’ry’s support and resources ensured that this was not the case and that we’d be able to make a final product we could all be proud of.”

Other team members were freshman Monica Gallagher, who is undecided about her major, and Bruce Brookshire, a sophomore computer science major and creator of the app ClassNav, who both said they learned much about collaboration through the process.