When Ukrainian journalism student Viktoriia Haiboniuk shot her first video, she knew she had discovered her calling. From finding a character and a story, to shooting footage, to building a storyline and editing the video, she loved every minute of it. And from that point on, nothing was going to stop her from becoming a multimedia journalist.
Not even an ocean. Haiboniuk, a native of western Ukraine, will be traveling to Portland this fall to attend the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s Multimedia Journalism master’s program.
She’s paying for it with a grant from the prestigious Fulbright Program, a United States government-sponsored scholarship created 70 years ago to encourage international educational exchange. Active in more than 160 countries, the program is designed to increase mutual understanding between U.S. students and their peers around the world. As graduate students travel to far-flung locales, they learn from, educate and embrace new cultures, forging connections along the way. Each year, the program awards grants to 8,000 students.
Haiboniuk recently received a master’s in media communication with an emphasis in visual and transmedia storytelling from Ukrainian Catholic University’s School of Journalism. She’s coming to Oregon to learn more about visual and multimedia journalism.
The SOJC’s multimedia journalism program draws many foreign students, particularly from the East, because universities in that part of the world do not offer multimedia storytelling degrees. Haiboniuk is excited that she found a program that will teach her how to produce multimedia stories with visuals, audio and text.
After learning about the SOJC multimedia journalism master’s program from the Fulbright program, she was intrigued by what it offers, including unique courses, world-class faculty and the chance to work on a project in a foreign land. She feels the program is a “strong academic fit” for her.
It’s also the next step to fulfilling her life’s purpose. “It is written on the multimedia journalism webpage: ‘Change the world by telling its stories,’” Haiboniuk said. “I do believe in the power of storytelling, and I think that everyone has a story to tell. And as journalists, we can make a difference.”
Senior Instructor Sung Park, co-director of the program, said the curriculum’s flexibility is another strong selling point for foreign students. “We’re a young program, but we’ve been very nimble in staying current with contemporary practices in our curriculum,” he said. “Because of the cohort size of 10-16 students a year, the students can tailor their experience to a specific interest they have in mind.”
During her time in Portland, Haiboniuk hopes to dig deeper into documentary photography and videography so she can use her skills to take a closer look at people’s lives. Although she has no subjects picked out yet, she hopes to find interesting characters and stories as she gets to know Portland better.
After finishing the multimedia journalism program, Haiboniuk plans to return to Ukraine to pursue her passion of storytelling using her videography skills to film documentaries. She also hopes to travel the world with her camera by her side to create visual projects about interesting places around the world.
And in the meantime, she plans to enjoy learning more about her chosen profession while getting acquainted with a different culture. “I look forward to new meetings, cool classes, exploring a new culture and discovering Oregon and Oregonians,” Haiboniuk said.
Story by Nikki Kesaris
Photo by Iryna Omelchuk