The Catholic University of America

Oct. 9, 2009

CUA Media Studies Major Wins Documentary Contest

Senior Awarded $10,000 for Film on Natural Gas


Senior Ashley Young in CUA's Media Lab

CUA senior Ashley Young's prize-winning documentary on natural gas opens with a shot of Ruby, a gray-and-white bulldog out for a stroll with her owners. A narrator explains: "This is Ruby. Her family uses natural gas."

Titled "Ruby Knows Best," the eight-minute film features interviews with folks on the street, energy experts and Ruby's "parents" - Bill and Leanne Euler - who heat their home with natural gas.

Last month, Young's creative storyline earned her a $10,000 Energy of the City scholarship in a contest sponsored by Washington Gas, which invited students to submit original mini documentaries about the energy crisis and the use of natural gas as a way to help solve it.

The utility company, which provides gas for the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, declared Young - a media studies major from Bethesda, Md. - the winner after she captured 89 percent of 11,119 votes cast online for her film and those of two other finalists.

"Heartiest congratulations to Ashley Young on this wonderful recognition," said L.R. Poos, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. "It's the latest in a series of recent prizes and awards for creative video to students in our Department of Media Studies, and underscores the department's mission, which is to provide a 'humanities-centered education in media literacy as part of an intellectual and moral foundation for students who will become lifelong interpreters, users and makers of mediated texts.' "

Young also received $2,500 from Washington Gas when she was named a finalist in May. With that money, she purchased a high-definition camera that she used in filming her documentary. She also used a shotgun microphone on a boom pole and two wireless mikes borrowed from CUA's Media Lab in O'Boyle Hall.

The Catholic University senior, who hopes to become a documentary film editor, said winning the scholarship "was a nice surprise at the beginning of the school year."

Young credits her parents, in part, for her interest in films. "Movie watching was a really big part of my family," says Young. "My parents would encourage me to watch silent films, classic films, art films."

As a student at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Young was a member of the TV club. It was at Walter Johnson that she made her first documentary: a film about building solar-powered cars.

Young says she enjoys making documentaries because it allows her "to connect with people's stories.

"Everyone has a story," she notes. "Through documentaries I get to learn those stories. I got into documentaries so that people can see my perspective of the world and those stories."

To view Young's winning documentary, click here (