Video Institute Alumni

What do a producer for CNN, an editor for the latest Ken Burns documentary, and a producer for the BBC all have in common?  They are alumni of the Canisius College Video Institute!

Since its inception in 2005, hundreds of students have worked independently or as part of student teams to create award-winning service-oriented videos and social documentaries, all tied together by the theme of social justice. 
With the experience gained working on these projects, Video Institute alumni are now making their mark in their chosen careers.  The Video Institute provided them with unique opportunities to manage projects, work with clients, master a multitude of people skills and production skills, and give back to the community.  They continue to live the mission of Canisius College as men and women for and with others.
Hear from our alumni:
Sarah J. (S.J.) Velasquez - COM '07
Producer - Homepage & Features, BBC Worldwide
S.J. Velasquez is a multimedia journalist and editor by day and an Irish dancer by night. She has been fortunate enough to be employed in the print news industry since 2009, having worked at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY, and The Buffalo News. She recently moved to New York City to work for the BBC.

"Having a broad background in media has been key to my success as a journalist. After graduating from Canisius and hoping to pursue print journalism career, it became clear that my training in video would be an asset in my search for an advanced degree and employment in the news industry".

"As a member of CCVI, I traveled to El Salvador to shoot a short documentary about the changing religious atmosphere in Central America -- how many young journalists can put that on a resume? That was an uncomfortable, educational and invaluable experience that I would have never known had it not been for the opportunity provided to me by Canisius College." 

Erin Bagwell DMA '09 
Founder, Feminist Wednesday & Director and Creator, Dream, Girl the documentary

Erin Bagwell is an award winning videographer from Buffalo, New York. In the summer of 2013 she founded Feminist Wednesday a feminist storytelling blog. In the summer of 2014 she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $100,000 in funding to produce her first feature length film Dream, Girl. She has been featured on Forbes, The Huffington Post, ELLE, The Washington Post, Upworthy and FOX Business. When she isn’t on the Dream, Girl set or blogging she can be heard hosting the feminist podcast BeaverTalk out of her Brooklyn apartment.

"The Video Institute gave me the experience, confidence, and foundation I needed to go into the real world and trust I had the video skills to work at a production company. When I didn’t land that perfect job I created it myself."
"The past year I have put my energy into creating a feature length documentary about the stories of female entrepreneurs. We launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for the film just released our official film trailer on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day. We are slated to have the film finished in the fall of 2015."
Cassandra Eldred - COM '09
Digital Producer, CNN
Cassandra Eldred's first TV job was in Scranton, Pennsylvania as an Assignment Editor/Web Producer.  In 2011 she moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she started as a Video Journalist at CNN. There she delivered scripts to anchors, ran the teleprompter and did floor directing.  Next, she became an Associate Producer for video, where she was in charge of cutting video for CNN's homepage. Now, she is a Digital Producer in charge of placing video on, making sure people are clicking on videos by testing headlines and making sure daily video goals are met. 

"The Video Institute was one of my favorite college experiences. I met a lot of great people and made wonderful friends.  It helped me become a better editor, a stronger listener and more creative. I worked on two films Catholic Charities and Habitat for Humanity, both non-profits have amazing stories that needed to be shared. The Video Institute allowed me to share their stories, which allowed me to grow into a strong leader and the successful woman I am today."

Garrett Weinholtz - DMA '12
Assistant Editor/Director of Photography, Redglass Pictures
Garrett Weinholtz is a freelance editor/director living in Brooklyn, NY. He focuses on documentary films and has worked with Lucy Walker on Ken Burns' Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies (premiered on PBS March 30, 2015). He is currently creating a video series for the US Pavilion at the World's Fair in Milan, Italy.

"The Video Institute gave me countless opportunities to better myself as a creator of videos. Specifically, it gave me a chance to make my own documentary film my Junior year, "Game/Create." This film allowed me to explore making a television length documentary from concept, budgeting, shooting, editing and finally premiering/applying to festivals. Without the hard work of Jamie O'Neil and Dr. Irwin "Game/Create" wouldn't have been possible, and I wouldn't have had such a great piece to get my foot into the door of documentary work."

Erik Taheri - DMA '14
Developer, Stinkdigital NYC
Erik Taheri graduated from Canisius College in the spring of 2014 with a dual major in Digital Media Arts and Computer Science.  Upon graduating he was hired to join the development team at StinkDigital NYC to work on projects for clients such as Google and Target.  He continues to combine his filmmaking and development skills working on new creative digital projects at StinkDigital.
"During my time at Canisius College I had the privilege to work on two projects as part of the Canisius College Video Institute.  With the guidance of the Video Institute I was able to tell the story of a Buffalo Architect who heroically passed away on the Titanic, Edward Austin Kent, and highlight the struggles and change that is taking place on Buffalo’s East Side.  The Video Institute provided me the opportunity to work outside of the standard curriculum on projects that interested me and had a positive impact on the community.  The experience I gained as part of the Video Institute has proven to be invaluable to my success beyond college.  The opportunity to organize, create, and produce these projects while working with professors, other students, and members of the community has given me knowledge and experience that I can use to be successful wherever I am taken by my career."