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Taking Shape

Junior reflects on coursework that is helping her carve out a career

Many students arrive at college unsure what it is they want to do with their life, but  

sometimes taking the right class, or in Venussa Chanthavisouk’s case, classes, can open an unexpected pathway.   

Venussa, a junior communications and media studies major at Bridgewater State University, has been excited to find that some of her classes offer the opportunity to explore personal experiences.  

“Having the personal freedom to write about and explore topics that are meaningful to me helps me understand what I want, and what my values are. Bridgewater is helping me find both my personal and professional identity,” Venussa said.  

 While taking a Visual Strategy for Digital Media class, she was asked to develop an original business plan and create a branding package.   

Venussa looked inward and decided she wanted to create a project that addressed the kind of trauma she endured both as a child and as a young adult.   

“I am a victim of sexual assault and know firsthand that it’s life changing,” she said. “You lose your sense of identity and who you takes a really long time to just rediscover who you are again.”  

Throughout her healing process, Venussa used fashion as an outlet.  

Drawing from that personal lens, for her class assignment, Venussa created a mock business called Lady and Street. The goal of the organization is to use fashion to help survivors of sexual assault feel comfortable in their bodies again.   

“Sexual assault survivors often have a very difficult time understanding their bodies and how they look. The idea is to use fashion to help survivors understand their bodies a little bit more, to feel more comfortable,” Venussa said.   

And while the idea was just for class, it did help better identify what it is Venussa wants to do with her life.   

“I want to help people. I’ve always wanted to do things that have a purpose to them. I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t hold meaning or impact people in a positive way,” she said.   

It was through another class at BSU that she was better able to identify just how she wants to achieve this.   

Last semester Venussa took a Public Relations Case Study class and had the opportunity to create an original case study.   

She again turned inward and drew from her own experience for the project.   

Venussa decided to perform a case study that addressed diversity, representation, and inclusivity within the film industry. As someone with Laotian roots, who identifies as Asian, the research was personal.   

She examined the backlash regarding the new live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” created when black actress Halle Bailey was cast.   

“When Disney cast a person of color, not a lot of people were happy,” she said. “But, on the other side, many people were excited to see a new representation and diversity in film.”  

Through her research she discovered that while there is an overall increase in representation of minority female leads in film, there is still work to be done.   

Which is why she is considering pursuing a career in film, either as an actress or behind the scenes in public relations.   

Venussa looks forward to seeing what she will gain from her other BSU classes and is grateful for what she’s already learned.   

“While I’m still not 100 percent sure what it is I want to do with my future, I do feel these classes have helped me, I now have an idea,” she said. “I want to have a positive impact on other people and want to ultimately help people find and be comfortable with who they are, to not have to bend backwards to meet other’s expectations.”  

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