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Just four years after Micha Sabovik oversaw the launch of the College of Communication’s YouTube channel and its first series, COMlife, the COM assistant dean of student services and a team of students learned that they were winners at the 2014 Shorty Awards, which honor the best in social media. COM, one of seven colleges nominated for the BN College category sponsored by Barnes & Noble, took home the Shorty at an awards event held in New York City on April 7.
“We are so honored to be recognized by the Shorty Awards and Barnes & Noble for our student engagement and outreach,” says Sabovik (COM’96,’06). “From COMlife, our Telly Award–winning documentary web series, to our tweets about what’s going on around campus, we attempt to position ourselves in a space where our students, faculty, staff, and alumni can engage us in meaningful conversations.”
The nomination itself was unique because COM was the only school within a larger university nominated for the award. The competitors, chosen from among 250 nominees, were COM, the University of Houston, Binghamton University, Illinois State, Texas Tech, Rowan University, and last year’s winner, West Virginia University.
To be eligible, nominees could submit only one Twitter handle for consideration, and BU chose @comugrad, which is run by COM’s Student Services. “It’s a Twitter handle that lets students know what’s happening at the college, news about COM alumni, and job postings,” says Sabovik. “We also include items that we find entertaining.”
To be nominated, schools were required to solicit tweets from students, alumni, and friends supporting their nomination. COM faculty, students, and alums flooded @comugrad’s Twitter feed with support, in 140 characters or less, citing reasons COM’s social media platform deserved to be honored.
“Social media has brought an entirely new dimension to education,” according to the Shorty Awards website. “Colleges are using Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and blogs to connect students with each other and with their school in unprecedented ways.”
COM’s social media adventure began four years ago with the reality YouTube series COMlife, which documents the experiences of COM students throughout their time at BU.
“We started it at a time when we didn’t have a large social media presence,” Sabovik recalls. “We had just started our undergraduate Twitter handle and started putting COMlife on YouTube. Everything kind of grew from there.”
Today, she oversees COM’s five Twitter handles, Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube channel with help from a number of dedicated students. “I’m so thankful that we have such great students at COM and BU,” she says. “I rely on them significantly to help create great content and that is part of the reason why we’re being recognized. It’s not a singular operation; it’s collaborative.”
Sabovik attended the awards ceremony, along with COM Dean Thomas Fiedler (COM’71), employees of the BU Barnes & Noble bookstore, and four students who have been involved in producing content for COM’s social media platforms: Gregory Huntoon (COM’14), William Dowsett (COM’16), Aaron Bland (COM’14), and Kelly Natoli (COM’14). New York–based alum Mark Denega (COM’09), who was instrumental in starting COMlife, also attended.
Madeline Rosenberger (CAS’14, COM’14) contributed to this article.