iMedia students share 'fly-in' projects for the public good

Graduate students in the Interactive Media master’s program aided organizations, communities and individuals in Colombia, Cuba, Dominica and Ecuador during their Winter Term course.

As part of their Winter Term “fly-in” experience, graduate students in the Interactive Media master’s program divided into four groups to visit Colombia, Cuba, Dominica and Ecuador, collecting content for a monthlong project for the public good. Upon their return stateside, the students built robust online presences for their respective nonprofit organizations, agencies and communities.

Shay Carlson (left) and Katie Jostes address the audience in Turner Theatre. Their student group traveled to Matanzas, Cuba, to highlight artist Jesus Alberto Mederos and his studio.
​The iMedia program celebrated its 10th edition of the fly-in experience with formal presentations held on Jan. 24 in Schar Hall’s Turner Theatre. The four student groups shared details about their trips, their objectives, as well as their finished projects. A photo gallery of the presentations is available on the School of Communications’ Flickr page. The event was also livestreamed for clients, family, friends and iMedia alumni.

After a week to 10 days of collecting and gathering content abroad, the students returned to campus to create websites, promotional videos, social media platforms and other online marketing tools. The groups essentially overhauled their respective clients’ presence online.

“It was truly a life-changing experience, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Ellington Hayes, who participated in the group that traveled to Dominica and supported two nonprofit organizations helping underprivileged children.

Since the launch of the graduate program a decade ago, iMedia students have visited more than 15 different countries across the world, from Iceland and Ireland to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.


While visiting Bogota, Colombia, a group of seven students – nicknamed Los Cafeteros – worked with Proyectos Tecnovo, an organization that manufactures home good products, such as ceramics and candles. Each day, millions of people with disabilities in Colombia struggle to make the minimum wage to live healthy, happy, independent lives. Proyectos Tecnovo strives to provide equal opportunity to vulnerable workers by creating an inclusive work environment that cultivates the universal skills of teamwork and creativity. Throughout the trip, the team collected photos, conducted interviews and gathered video footage of the organization and Bogota. The team then created a website,, designed to share the story and mission of Tecnovo and display its high-quality products.

“Our goal was to make a website that matched the passion of our client,” said Juliana Walker during the group's presentation.

Drew Daffron – Project Manager
Tyquan Williams – Graphic Designer
Sophie Natan – Web Developer
Juliana Walker – Content Strategy
Jessica Parker – UX Designer
Carolina Robledo – Videographer
Aaron Scott – Photographer
Phillip Motley – Faculty Adviser
Bryan Baker – Staff Adviser


Claudia Jensen (left) and Ellington Hayes led their group’s presentation, discussing their experiences working with two nonprofit organizations in Dominica, a small island in the Caribbean Sea.
​While visiting Matanzas, Cuba, a group of seven students highlighted artist Jesus Alberto Mederos, who hosts art therapy sessions in his studio for youths with behavioral issues, children with cancer or other chronic illnesses, and seniors with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The team spent three days at Mederos' studio filming, photographing and interviewing individuals who took part in these sessions, as well as Mederos himself. The project’s website,, and its content aim to bring global attention to Mederos' charitable efforts, put them into the context of the larger Matanzas community, and emphasize the benefits of art therapy overall.

To highlight the energy and impact of Mederos’ efforts, the student group set out to build a site where visitors could “feel the vibrant culture we found while in Cuba,” said Shay Carlson. The group was also inspired to incorporate colors they found in Matanzas in their digital content.

Katie Jostes – Project Manager
Sneha Kulkarni – Photographer
Sandra Ferguson – Photographer  
Brittany Pearson – Graphic Designer
Joshua Gay – Videographer
Ben Yerby – Web Developer
Shay Carlson – UX Designer
Randy Piland – Faculty Adviser
Mitch Pittman ’09 – Alumni Adviser


Julia Brown, project manager for the student group that traveled to Ecuador, highlights the group's work gathering content for a website promoting a bilingual healthcare app.
​While visiting Dominica, a small island in the West Indies, a group of seven students worked with Give More HUGS (GMH), a nonprofit organization committed to helping underprivileged students develop a lifelong love for learning, reading and creativity. Each year, the organization impacts more than 12,000 students living in Texas, New York, Connecticut and Dominica, providing educational materials, books, art supplies, sports equipment, mentorship, and extracurricular activity scholarships. During the trip, the student group gathered photos, videos and interviews for a new website, The site is designed to attract volunteers, donors and partners that can help GMH impact more students worldwide. Additionally, the students developed an online brand and website for a second nonprofit called Golden Opportunities. Founded by then-19-year-old Lakeyia Joseph, the fledging nonprofit also supports education, gathering school supplies, food, clothing and books.

Claudia Jensen – Project Manager
Zach Henkels – Programmer/Web Developer
Fannique Robinson – Photographer
Contia’ Prince – Videographer
Tyrin McMillan – Content Strategist
Ellington Hayes – Marketing Manager
John Gorman – Graphic Designer
Nicole Triche – Faculty Adviser
Maggie Mullikin – Staff Adviser


​While visiting Quito, Ecuador, and the surrounding region, a group of seven students worked with Michelle Grunauer of Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Elon alumna Caley Mikesell ’16 and current Elon student Lucia Jervis ’19 to gather content for a website promoting MedPal CNN, a bilingual app created by Grunauer and others. The objective of MedPal CNN is to educate individuals about pediatric palliative care and provide tools to parents to assist children in need. Many areas in Ecuador, and around the world, have little to no health care leaving people to go without basic palliative care, which has been proven to lengthen the life of children with terminal illnesses. The app creators hope the platform will soon be available worldwide. During the trip, the Elon team conducted 15 interviews, 11 of them in English and Spanish, gathering information about the app, the effect of pediatric palliative care, and other related topics. The team also conducted usability testing and gave feedback to the app creators to ensure that MedPal CNN will be easy to use across the globe. The site will promote the MedPal CNN app, but the team is also creating a second site (no URL yet) to show the process of its project from start to finish.

​Julia Brown – Project Manager
Emily Morris – Web Developer / Coder
Geremy Mack – Design Lead / Graphic Designer
Devon James – Information Architect / UX/UI / Web Developer
Donita Sharkey – Videographer Lead
Simone Young – Videographer / Video Content Organizer
Matt Wottus – Photography Lead
David Copeland – Faculty Advisor
Tarah Holland – Staff Advisor