Junior Jane O’Connor works in video pro­duction for the college. Col­legian | Carmel Kookogey

How does one even begin to explain Jane O’Connor? 

She helped make the mar­keting videos you saw during freshmen ori­en­tation. Her radio show, “State Facts,” has won national awards. I hear she does wedding videos. In Hillsdale. 

Since the second semester of her freshman year, O’Connor, a junior now, has worked as a video pro­duction assistant in the video pro­duction department for Hillsdale’s mar­keting team. A fledgling film-maker, O’Connor got her start by working a backup camera for video pro­ducer Chandler Ryd ’18, pro­ducing video mar­keting mate­rials, such as content for the college YouTube channel.

“She has also become a helpful assistant editor,” Ryd said. “She has a good natural instinct when it comes to editing and knows her way around Adobe Pre­miere, so I can trust her to do basic editing tasks and help out on larger editing projects by con­tributing ideas, adding b‑roll, or even cutting a scene herself.”

O’Connor’s road to the mar­keting department was not a straight­forward one, however, as she got her start — and her inspi­ration — working in the audio visual department. 

“I remember my first day on the job, I was just watching, it was just sup­posed to be a training day, but then one of the camera guys didn’t show up,” O’Connor said. “So at the last minute, I was told I had to work the camera, so they threw me out into the CCA to film.”

O’Connor said that all it took was that one unlikely expe­rience to spark her passion for film-making.

“It was pretty simple, all I did was zoom, focus, and point at the thing that the people in the headset told me to point at,” O’Connor said. “But I remember leaving, and I was so ecstatic, I thought it was the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

O’Connor is a history major, though she says she’s unsure what her post-grad­u­ation life will look like.

“I think I would enjoy teaching.” O’Connor said. “Though I’m a little hes­itant, I don’t know if I’m just using that as a plan B in my mind, just because film seems so ridiculous. More and more, I want to be editing at the radio station or editing videos, and I get sad when school takes me away from that.”

One of her most mem­o­rable film projects was also one of her first, O’Connor said. Working in the summer between her freshman and sophomore year, she helped to create the videos that freshmen see during ori­en­tation.

“That was super fun, it was really awesome to work with the mar­keting team,” O’Connor said. “It felt like working on a real movie set, but it was a small enough pro­duction that you could be involved with every­thing.”

One of O’Connor’s favorite parts of her job was trav­elling with the mar­keting team.

“We trav­elled all around this summer,” O’Connor said. “Places like Portland, Scottsdale, Arizona, Nebraska and Chicago. It was maybe not the best time to be trav­eling a lot, but it was really fun. It was for a series that we were doing on awards that the college is giving to alumni.”

For O’Connor, the trips were a chance not only to get film-making expe­rience but also to bond with her coworkers in the mar­keting department.

“I got really close to Chandler, and to another coworker of mine, Josh Lieb­hauser, who also came along,” O’Connor said. “The three of us were just trav­elling, and driving, and hanging out together, and working, obvi­ously. It was a really good time. It was probably the high­light of the summer, to get out and to meet some really inter­esting people with really inter­esting stories who had come out of Hillsdale.”

But O’Connor isn’t just a video guru, she also hosts a weekly radio show, “State Facts,” on WRFH. O’Connor was recently awarded the 2020 College Broad­casters Inc. award for Best Reg­u­larly Scheduled Enter­tainment Program, as well as the 2020 Michigan Asso­ci­ation of Broad­casters award for Best On Air Per­son­ality for her radio program.

“Each episode, I look at a U.S. state, and I bring someone on from that state, and quiz them about it,” O’Connor said. “Then I’ll ask them ques­tions, like what their favorite thing about the state is, and just try to get them to talk about why they love the state so much.” 

Before spring break last year, “State Facts” was nom­i­nated for the Most Innovative/Creative Program award by the Inter­col­le­giate Broadcast System, and O’Connor traveled to New York for the award cer­emony.

“It was a really fun trip,” O’Connor said. “It was kind of rainy and ter­rible and smelled bad, and the people were indif­ferent to your exis­tence, but some­thing about that was very appealing to me, and I could see myself working there.”

With restric­tions put in place due to COVID-19, winning the CBI award this year was a far dif­ferent expe­rience for O’Connor, as the event was held vir­tually.

“I didn’t actually attend the virtual cer­emony, I was playing a show at Don­ny­brook that night,” O’Connor said. “At the time that felt more present and important. In the grand scheme of things, maybe I should have tuned in for a second.”

Though she was playing a show in her band at an on-campus house the night of the award cer­emony, O’Connor is grateful for the award and those who helped her achieve it.

“I’m very lucky and for­tunate to have Scott [Bertram] and the station and all the other support that allowed me to put a show on air that people liked a little bit,” O’Connor said.

Amaz­ingly, O’Connor was still able to find time this past summer to film and create a wedding video for senior Car­oline Greb and Ethan Greb ’19. It was the first wedding she’d ever filmed.

“It was kind of scary,” O’Connor said. 

With minimal equipment of her own — most of what she uses in the mar­keting department is bor­rowed — O’Connor said she “made a lot of mis­takes, but learned a lot,” despite being stressed and losing sleep editing the video.  

“They seem to like it, which is really all that matters,” O’Connor said. “I stressed so much over that. I lost so much sleep, but not because of them. I just put it on myself because it’s kind of scary to have someone’s special day in your hands.”

Car­oline Greb and O’Connor met in Hillsdale College’s External Affairs office in 2018 and have been friends ever since. Greb said she was very happy with the results of the video.

“Jane was amazing at making our video,” Greb said. She was a delightful presence on our wedding day and clearly loves her work. I had asked her just to simply capture our vows and toasts, and she took it upon herself to do an entire, art­fully-made video with b‑roll, inter­views, music and all. Jane has a unique ability not only to capture beau­tiful images, but to capture a story.”

While O’Connor says pro­ducing wedding videos likely isn’t in her long-term plan, she is grateful for the expe­rience and looks forward to wherever post-grad life takes her.

“I’m hon­estly just happy to be behind the camera, and to be editing,” O’Connor said. “I just love cre­ating projects.”