-by our correspondent.
The Mass Communication Department of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, has successfully hosted the maiden edition of ‘Town & Gown Series’, an initiative targeted at facilitating valuable interaction between the classroom and industry.
The event with theme “Exploring emerging opportunities in media and communication,” was organized in partnership with Beyond Community Care foundation (BECCAF), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded by the Paramount Ruler, Igwe elect of Amanuke-Eri kingdom, Chief Dennis Ezebuilo, Ogbuodudu II.
Media experts enlighten the students on the best ways to pursue a fulfilling career, charging them to explore the emerging opportunities in the media and communication industry at the event which saw 10 indigent students and people living with disabilities receive empowerment from the partnering NGO, BECCAF.
Speaking at the event, the former Managing Director of The Sun Newspapers who is also former Commissioner for Information and Culture, Anambra State, Dr. Tony Onyima, said the place of mentorship in media profession cannot be overemphasized, as it prepares younger generation of media practitioners to surmount many challenges often faced in the practice.
Also speaking on the theme of the event, “Exploring Emerging Opportunities In Media and Communication,” the guest lecturer, Executive Director of West Africa Broadcast & Media Academy, Jika Attoh, urged students to develop sound writing skills to survive in the profession irrespective of the platform adding that content creation, copyright, blogging and editing are lucrative areas students could engage to earn income, instead of walking round the streets in search of scarce paid employment.
For his part, the MD/CEO of Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), Dr. Uche Nworah, urged the mass communication students to emulate the giant footprints of professionals who have made enormous contributions to the growth of society through the practice of journalism while highlighting self-development as key to expertise in the profession.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Head Department of Mass Communication, Prof. Chinwe Uzochukwu, said Town & Gown Series was aimed at bringing about a valuable interface between students undergoing training in the classroom and professionals in the industry.
“The partnership with Beyond Community Care Foundation which made the maiden edition possible was timely as it coincided with the time when the mass communication discipline is being unbundled for better efficiency. I thank the planning committee led by Dr. Emeka Odogwu, for their effort in making the event a reality.” Prof. Uzochukwu said
She expressed the department’s readiness to welcome future partnership from generous individuals and bodies to sustain the initiative while encouraging the students to take advantage of the event to chart a course towards career greatness in the media and communication industry.
Responding, the Vice- Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Esimone, lauded the Head of Department, Prof Uzochukwu, on the initiative and pointed out that the programme is in line with the ‘Project 200’ of his administration aimed at raising quality students to be active players in the industries.
Prof. Esimone, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu, said ‘Town and Gown,’ was initiated in the institution to foster relationship between the academic community and the industry. He commended the empowerment given to less privileged students, describing it as a unique initiative by the department and called on other departments to emulate the gesture.
Also speaking, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Uche Nwogwugwu explained that the programme was an intercourse between the students and professionals where the key players of the industry orientate and mentor students on what they would face after school.
Meanwhile, the founder of BECCAF, Dennis Ezebuilo, says the partnership with the department was geared towards galvanizing and training students through mentorship for a successful career after graduation adding that the organization was striving to reduce poverty, enhance rural development and ensure overall development of the country through skill acquisition and sound education.
He advised the students to take seriously the invaluable opportunity offered to them, as some before them did not get such opportunity while expressing the hope that the organisation would have more opportunities to partner with the university in future.
Panelists and other media/Communication experts who spoke at the event also offered words of encouragement to the students. , Valentine Obienyem, Media Adviser to former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, spoke on the importance of journalism, noting that it can influence the society positively. Former Managing Director of Champion Newspapers, Emmanuel Agu, led the students through tasks of news writing and warned them not to be distracted in their journalism career.
Also Speaking, Kasie Abone, a marketing analyst at ThisDay newspaper urged the students, especially potential female journalists among them, to remain focused in pursuit of their career goals. Another panelist, Head of Punch newspaper investigative desk, Tessy Igomu, urged the students to be professional and deliberate about what they want to do in the field and strive to carve a niche for themselves, adding that such could only be achieved through diligence and hard work.
Contributing, General Manager, Kpakpando Media Group, Monic Okechukwu, said communication students must cultivate sound knowledge and character. Hence, they must eschew pomposity as journalists are known to be simple to attract good relationship with the public.
The president of the Association of Mass Communication Students (ASOMACS), Emmanuel Nginikanma, who gave vote of thanks, said the students were full of praises for the department for the maiden Town & Gown event, appealing for more empowerment for the students in that regard.
His predecessor, Comrade Kingsley Chinedu, said he was overwhelmed by the success of the event, stating that it availed students a rare opportunity to rub minds with key players in the field of their study noting that the event would be highly beneficial to the students and will help close the gap between classroom and industry where they hope to practice.
Two physically challenged persons were among the 10 persons empowered by the Department in partnership with BECCAF alongside others who learnt acquired skills during the long stay at home occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic but lacked capital to start up a business after graduation from the department.
Items received by the beneficiaries included a special phone for the blind, a wheel chair, sewing machine, barbing equipment, tiling machine, hairdressing equipment and bakery equipment among others.
Speaking on behalf of other beneficiaries, a student living with disability who got a brand new wheel chair, Chidimma Nwadialu, said it was her first time of seeing a department in the university actually caring for her students in such a way. She thanked the Head of Department, for partnering NGO which brought about smiles on their faces.