Attending a private liberal arts college, it’s easy to think we know everyone we go to school with. However, as Gabriella Gamba, an editor of The Circle at Marist College, mentioned, “When it comes down to it, everyone is confined to their own friend groups. We thought if we could highlight all those people we don’t know, it would give [everyone] a new perspective.” Alongside sophomores, Adler Papiernik and Kerry Tiedemann, Gamba launched the Instagram account known as Marist Stories.
Inspired after the original Humans of New York, and later the capping project that became a Facebook page, Humans of Marist College; Gamba, had been talking about restarting something like this at Marist for months with her Circle colleague, Bernadette Hogan. As she pitched the idea to Papiernik and Tiedemann, “[the three of us] just spearheaded it,” she mentioned. Trying to get students to have a better understanding of the culture around campus, Gamba, Papiernik, and Tiedemann began walking around campus acquiring content and developing ideas.
There is no strict protocol to how they go about finding people to feature for Marist Stories. They simply walk up to Marist faculty, staff, and students randomly. Focusing on asking each person they interview 10 – 12 of the same questions, they later pick people’s best three answers to post.
As Tiedemann comments, “It is important to stay consistent with the content and keep up with posting so [the Marist Stories project] continues to spread with all the people we meet and interview.” One thing they always manage to keep consistent on their Instagram is asking students the same last question, which they always post, “If you weren’t going to pursue a career in your major, what would be your dream job?”
A questions like this sometimes brings up the funniest answer, as Gamba retold the instance when they were interviewing Cameron Gibson, a senior majoring in PR and Sports Comm. “When we asked [him], he mentioned how he would be a bus driver. Which I thought was funny, so when I later asked him, he said it was just the first thing that popped into his head.” Amused by people’s answers to some of these questions, the purpose of Marist Stories was simply that — to feature someone you thought you knew, and learning just a little more about them. Tiedemann mentioned, “It’s amazing how everyone has their own story and all you have to do is ask.”
Gamba, Papiernik, and Tiedemann commented on one of their latest projects, known as Fox Fridays, which features 5 members of a team, club, or organization. For example, last week 5 members of the Marist Football were featured, while this past Friday members of the Equestrian team shared their story.
The Instagram account consists of head shot like pictures of these individuals around Marist. Each person that is interviewed is photographed candidly, posted with a caption of their answers to a 4 of the 12 questions asked. Having a good quality picture, makes it stand out on their followers’ Instagram page which makes them want to read the interview. “It’s the picture that grabs people’s attention,” said Tiedemann, allowing Marist Stories to mark it itself in a way.
One of the 12 questions that Marist Stories asks when they feature an individual, is who they think should be featured next. And while more often than not, people will recommend their friends, they do receive great feedback, which allows them to keep building content.
Affiliated with The Circle, Marist Stories is an independent project that Gamba, Papiernik and Tiedemann are working on. The Marist Media Hub publishes a recap of their most popular Instagram posts of the week.
Currently Marist Stories has just over 700 followers. So having this publicity from The Circle and Marist Media Hub, they hope to further expand this project into next semester. Moving forward, although Gamba may be graduating in the spring, her partners Papiernik and Tiedemann hope to keep it going. “It would be awesome if it is a project that year after year continues with the help from new students in each upcoming class,” closed Tiedemann.