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Senior Interview: Lexi Thibodeaux

Graduating senior, Lexi Thibodeaux (Communication Studies major)

Asking Lexi about her Departmental Honors project, her reflection on Augsburg, and her life moving forward.


For your departmental honors project, what did you decide to do and why?

“So I did a project on diversity within public relations. Yeah, like short backstory, basically, there was a program that one of my professors sent to me and I was part of the program. And we kind of just talked about different things with NPR. And it was like on Zoom. And then pretty much every time we met, they’d always be like, ‘this is so important. We really need you guys. We need diversity,’ blah, blah, blah, blah. But no one really talked about the backside of why it was important. So that’s why I wanted to do that project, kind of to discover why it was so important and why people kept saying that to me.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to complete a departmental honors project?

Lexi’s 3 Pieces of Advice for Departmental Honors Projects:

  1. “I would say, make the timeline. Because I think especially for me, at least, when I was doing qualitative stuff, it felt like I had more time than I actually did. And I was like, ‘that’s not gonna be that bad. I just have to interview people, or I’d have to read through interviews,’ and that stuff. And I think it’s always better to have more time than less. So make a timeline, whether that’s by yourself or with your professor.”
  2. “I would say that it’s okay to change something as you go. So if you start off with one goal, and then you do interviews, and you’re actually like ‘Wow, this thing that people are talking about, I actually want to shift my focus to this,’ because I think it’s better to work on something that you actually care about, and that you’re passionate about. Rather than stick with something that you might have thought about in the beginning of the semester, just because you don’t feel like you can change it. Because I think that’ll show through, like if you don’t actually care about what you’re talking about.”
  3. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think for me, at least, I always felt like if I needed help with something, I needed to reach out to whatever professors classes were for. So like, if I was working on something for Kristen, I feel like I need to ask her. But the rest of the department is there to help you. They want to see you succeed. Nobody, there’s gonna be like, ‘What a stupid question. Why did you come here?’ So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether that’s from other students or your professor, your advisor or outside sources.” 

What is the most valuable lesson that you’ve learned getting through all of this?

“Continue to be open to learning. And don’t feel like you know it all. I think there were a lot of times I just like..I don’t feel like I walked around like a know–it–all, but I think mentally there were a lot of things where I was like, ‘I know this already, I know how to do this already. I don’t need your help, blah, blah, blah.’ But like, there’s always something that you can learn. And I think if you walk in with an attitude of like, ‘you know, everything you’re supposed to know that,’ you’re not gonna learn anything. But I think if you take the time to take a step back and understand that you don’t know everything, there’s gonna be some things you do know and some you don’t know and be okay with that.”

What kind of stuff are you going to be doing after graduation now?

“I’m going to take the longest nap I’ve ever had! But seriously, I do have a job lined up. So I’m going to be working in the marketing communications department at Medtronic. I am how I describe myself to people as I’m a creative communicator. So like, I love to sing, I write music. I love to draw, I love podcasts. But I also like, for right now I have opportunities in the corporate world that I’m cool with. So I think the end goal is like, I would love to be able to do all of those things. My end goal would be to be able to do music full time. And then I want to get to a place where I run my own label where I train up other kids in the music industry. I think all of the things that I’m learning in school come into play with that, because all that’s communicating. It’s just kind of like, ‘Am I doing it face to face? Am I doing it through song? Am I doing it digitally?’ So that is the end goal. But immediately, I will be working at Medtronic and continuing to make stuff whether that’s musically or digitally.”

How do you plan to balance your corporate job and your creative passions and goals? How have you been balancing being a student and employee while pursuing these goals?

“Everything is figure-out-able”

“One thing that my mom always said to me growing up was that everything is figure–out–able. So you don’t have to just like know, you can figure stuff out. So if you want to be a traveling dancer while you’re learning German and learning to cook like you can do it you just have to time manage, you know what I’m saying? So I think like I think for me, I had to understand that one just because I have a talent. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to work at it. If anything, I have to work harder. And that was kind of a hard pill to swallow.” 

Time Management

“Okay, I have this job, but this is the passion that I have. How am I going to set up my time to do that? So maybe that means like, I’m not gonna go to the gym at night, I’m gonna go in the morning, maybe that means I only hang out with friends Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and I’m writing Monday and Thursday. So, I think being okay with putting in some work beyond what’s expected of you.”

“It’s not an all or nothing thing” 

“So I think, traditionally, there was like a big joke of like, being a starving artist, because it’s like, ‘it’s my art or nothing.’ You can work from eight to four, and then like, take a break, and then work on your craft from like, six to eight. I don’t think it has to be such an all or nothing thing. So- shifting focus and priority.”

“Knowing how to shift focus.”

“I’m not a big fan of living in a cardboard box. Just because I want to be a singer doesn’t mean I want to be a starving artist. I enjoy Nikes, I like sushi. I would like to have money. And so I think, if an opportunity is like the job at Medtronic- something that I got through an internship at Augsburg- yeah, it’s not something I necessarily imagined doing. But I like it, and it’s not soul sucking, so that was really important for me. But then also, I was like, ‘okay, just because I’m doing this, this doesn’t mean this is the rest of my life. I use that if it’s like, I want to buy new podcast equipment, use the money that I make for work,’ you know what I’m saying? Yeah, you pick what you want to do.”

4th Annual Intercollegiate Film Festival Concludes with Awards

The 4th Annual Intercollegiate Film Festival took place on Saturday, April 2nd in Science Hall 123.  The newly renovated space served as an excellent event location with upgraded seating and projection.  A modest crowd was able to hear from guest filmmaker Raven Johnson, view cinematic work from students around the state, take in awards, and stop by the photo wall for pics.

Johnson shared her short film “Tween” and talked about her path to becoming a filmmaker.  Johnson told students to take advantage of the equipment schools provide and to work together.  Johnson also talked about working with actors, her connection to Minnesota, and the importance of meaningful representation.

This year work representing five area colleges made it into the festival. Augsburg University, Century College, Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and Minneapolis College.  A total of 14 short films and screenplays were selected.

Augsburg students Nancy Yang, Kobe Markworth, and Max Helmueller we included in the line-up. Nancy Yang was awarded Best Animation for her short film “Ee”, Kobe Markworth took home “Best Narrative” for his film “The Grind”. “The Life of Lefty, Rolando Ramos” by Josh Englert of Century College was the big winner, earning Best Cinematography, Best Documentary, and Best of Show.  Best of Show will screen at the Twin Cities Film Festival in October.

Festival Award Winners:
  • “The Smith of Pepin County” – Joseph Miller – Minneapolis College
    Best Editing
    Audience Choice
  • “Dead Living” – Tristan Crawford – MCAD
    Best Sound
  • “The Void” – Tristan Crawford – MCAD
    Best Director
  • “Field Trip” – Mariah Murphy – Metropolitan State University
    Best Screenplay
  • “Ee” – Nancy Yang – Augsburg University
    Best Animation
  • “The Grind” – Kobe Markworth – Augsburg University
    Best Narrative
  • “Voyeur” – Camryn Smith – MCAD
    Best Experimental
  • “Feasting the Ancestors” – Chava Rey – Minneapolis College
    Responsible Filmmaking
    Audience Choice
  • “The Life of Lefty, Rolando Ramos” – Josh Englert – Century College
    Best Cinematography
    Best Documentary
    Best of Show
Program for the 2022 Intercollegiate Film Festival

Yang is awarded a Crystal Pillar in Animation

Nancy Yang and the Crystal Pillar for  College-  Animation/Graphics/Special Effects at the 2022 Student Production Awards.

Nancy Yang ’22 was presented with a Student Production Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy® Foundation for her work “Ee”, an animated short film. Yang received the Crytal Pillar for COLLEGE – ANIMATION/GRAPHICS/SPECIAL EFFECTS.  Yang is the second Augsburg student to receive an award in this category.

Yang’s film, “Ee”, tells the true story of a young girl who learns to love fishing through fishing adventures with her father.  When her father suddenly becomes ill, the girl must face a new reality.  Yang created the film in her Documentary Production class.  The work combines a documentary story with animated illustrations.

High School and college students from the Upper Midwest Chapter area of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and western Wisconsin area are eligible to submit to the annual awards. The awards recognize outstanding student achievements in video media production. Selected nominees are considered by a jury of professionals who examine content, creativity, and execution.  Awards are given out to those who achieve high marks in those areas.

You can read more about the Student Production Awards at

2022 Upper Midwest Emmy® Student Production Award Nominees

Nominations for the 2022 Upper Midwest Emmy® Student Production Awards are out and this year five Augsburg film students have been nominated in four different categories.

Kobe Markworth ’22, Corrine Werckman ’22, Finnr Elsmo ’22, Nancy Yang ’22, and Adrianna ‘Yani’ Forman ’20 earned these nominations for outstanding media production and will now be considered for a Crystal Pillar. Crystal Pillars will be awarded at a ceremony on Friday, April 1st. This televised ceremony will be streamed for online and mobile devices on the Upper Midwest Emmy® YouTube channel and The Emmy® App. You can read the full list of 2022 Nominees online at College media production programs in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota are eligible.

Upper Midwest Student Production Award


“The Grind”
Augsburg University
Kobe Markworth, Director
Corrine Werckman, Writer/Talent
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

“Augsburg Profile – Za’Nia Coleman”
Augsburg University
Yani Foreman, Producer/Director
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

“Augsburg Men’s Soccer: MIAC Playoff vs. Macalester”
Augsburg University
Finnr Elsmo, Director
Jenny L. Hanson, Advisor

Augsburg University
Nancy Yang, Animator

*The awards were not held last year, thus the period of eligibility this year was Jan. 2020 – Dec. 2021.

Student Production Award for “College Life”

“College Life” by Darton Weaver

Darton Weaver took home a Crystal Pillar for the short documentary “College Life” Friday night at the 2020 Student Production Awards.

The Upper Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognizes outstanding achievement in student production annually through the work of their foundation.  The event was live-streamed; you can watch the announcement online:


Department Majors Collaborate on Music Video “Be Saved”

Written by Preston Peterson | Album Artwork provided by Kirby Gage

I had a chance to talk with Kirby Gage about a collaboration he did with other Augsburg students. The project “Be Saved” is an original song and music video by Kirby Gage featuring Zayguap. See what Gage and I talked about in my recounted interview.

Preston: What are your majors?

Gage: I am a New Media: Game Design & New Media: Promotional Communication double major, for the time being at least. My videographer Finn Elsmo is a Film Major. Isaiah (Zayguap) has taken this semester off, however, is pursuing a New Media: Promotional Communication major.

Preston: What Augsburg spaces or equipment were used to make the video?

Gage: We rented cameras from Augsburg a few times, for several different shoots. Thanks to Jenny Hanson, we were able to use the black box facility in the chapel on campus. In this room, there is an option for complete darkness and it allowed for interesting shots with different lighting.

Preston: What is “Be Saved” about?

Gage: I have a lot to talk about when it comes to the video. After I made this song, for my upcoming album Story Time I realized that I had something special to work with. The connection with Finn began when I was working with my partner Kim Lindgren. Together we run a clothing brand called Kold Heart Clothing. She suggested that Finn and I talk about making a music video together. The first time we met we did a shoot at Minnehaha Falls. It went super well and Finn and I knew we were going to have something cool here, we did some editing right away and sat on it for a while. We did this 4 more times before landing on a final edit. We then went to my home studio to record Isaiah’s section of the video. After a long process of editing and color correcting with Finn, the real challenge began. For this video, we wanted to try and do something unique. I decided to do hand-drawn animations and line edits throughout the entire video. Something I will do more of in the future. For the Animations, I would draw in my notebook whenever I had the chance, even in class sometimes. I then put those drawings into Photoshop and animated them frame by frame. I did the same thing in After Effects for the line edits going frame by frame and added the finalized edits there as well. The entire process of the video took a few hundred hours to complete. I had a lot of firsts here. I’m extremely happy with the way it turned out, and I’m super happy that people enjoy it! 

None of this would’ve been possible without Finn Elsmo, Isaiah Lindsay, Kim Lindgren or Ben Poole. Also, a special thanks to Jenny Hanson and the New Media Department let us use their equipment and space for recording.

Preston: Where can people find you and the people involved online?

Gage: I have a few links if people are interested. 

Spotify: Kirby Gage (Also on Apple Music, Sound Cloud, etc.)

Spotify: Zayguap

Instagram: Kold Heart Clothing

Instagram: Kirby Gage

Instagram: Finnr Sverre

Instagram: Zayguap

Instagram: Ben Jammin’

Jenna McNallie research study in Communication Quarterly Journal

Journal CoverJenna McNallie is first author on a research study to be published in Communication Quarterly Journal later this year. The article “Social media intensity and first-year college students’ academic self-efficacy in Flanders and the United States” discusses the connection between social media use and confidence among first-year college students. McNallie along with Elisabeth Timmermans (Erasmus University Rotterdam), Elizabeth Dorrance Hall (Michigan State University), Jan Van den Bulck (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), and Steven R. Wilson (University of South Florida) found that social media usage does play a role in first-year students’ self-efficacy (how much they believe in themselves), but a complex role. This role varies by social media platform as well as culture, as participants were from both the midwest and Belgium. To learn more about the research, email Jenna McNallie at

David Lapakko & The Great American Think-Off

Written by Preston Peterson

David Lapakko holds medals from Great American Think Off
David Lapakko wins Great American Think Off

The Great American Think-Off is a debate competition that happens every year in New York Mills, Minnesota. Communication Studies Associate Professor David Lapakko is a multi-year competitor and winner of this competition. Check out a recent conversation in the Sun Current for Lapakko’s thoughts on debate in society today and The Great American Think-Off.

Another Festival for Samiera Abou-Nasr’s film “Of Our Youth”


Film characters talking in a restaurant [Still image from the film]
“OF OUR YOUTH” Directed by Samiera Abou-Nasr
Augsburg University film alum Samiera Abou-Nasr has a short film being featured in the Twin Cities Arab Film Festival. She was interviewed by Minnesota Daily, a local student-run media and newsgroup, to talk about filmmaking and her experiences.

The Twin Cities Arab Film Festival is happening September 26-29. You can see “Of Our Youth” at the festival being held at St. Anthony Main Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis. Her short film will play in a block of other local films on Saturday, September 28 at 4 p.m. For more info and ticket information visit the MSP Film Society.

Editor’s Note: Did you miss the festival? You can watch “Of Our Youth” online. Find it featured under Student Work. You can also here Samiera and JC talk about the film during a red carpet interview at the Twin Cities Film Festival.

Trio of Auggies present at PCA

Professor Kristen Chamberlain, who, along with Marceleen Mosher, presented a paper this past week at the Popular Culture Association conference in Washington, D.C.  Their topic?  “Failing Infrastructures: The Hydrosocial Cycle and Water in the U.S.”  Senior communication studies and political science student, Kristian Evans, ’19, also presented at the conference.  His topic? “What if Joseph Campbell Could Dunk? A Rhetorical Analysis of the Narrative Constructed Around LeBron James” Chamberlain advised Evans on the project.

“Failing Infrastructures: The Hydrosocial Cycle and Water in the U.S.”

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan illuminated a startling concern across the United States of aging infrastructures and limited public investment. Residents lacked both the financial freedom to invest in their own community and a representative voice in the decisions that impact them. But Flint’s underlying problem is not unique. Our water infrastructure is at risk and buried out of sight in many modern-day, fiscally strapped communities – both literally and figuratively. This hidden landscape lies at the intersection of both the natural and built water supplies we all rely on. Grounded in the hydrosocial cycle, we seek to situate the inherent flaws in solving community water infrastructure challenges with budget forward approaches. It is critical for policymakers and community members to examine water in relation to its role in modern day society and its very stake in humanity’s survival.

“What if Joseph Campbell Could Dunk? A Rhetorical Analysis of the Narrative Constructed Around LeBron James”

Senior Kristian Evans presenting at the PCA conference.
Senior Kristian Evans presenting at the PCA conference.

LeBron James sits at the top of the American athletic hierarchy. No other star combines the same amount of talent, celebrity, and notoriety as James has since bursting onto the scene as a high school phenom in 2002 (“ESPN World Fame 100”, 2017). His life, from the blacktops of poverty-stricken Akron to NBA champion, has followed a narrative that aligns closely with Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” LeBron James has come to represent a symbol of the struggles and redemption of the city of Cleveland, the next generation of basketball superstars following Michael Jordan, and the continuation of a rich and complicated narrative of African-American athletes and their relationship social justice. Through this rhetorical analysis of sports media coverage, Nike advertising campaigns and other mediums that combine to perpetuate the myth that is LeBron James, one can both observe how these forces combine to tell a heroic story and better understand the usefulness of Campbell’s Heroic Journey as it pertains to modern day athletes.