Four CSM Students Honored for Public Service Announcements

CSM digital production students

Four College of Southern Maryland (CSM) students were honored for public service announcements they produced last semester as part of their digital media production class. Students from both CSM and Towson University were invited to create and submit 30-second PSAs that warn state residents about the danger of items being stolen from cars in Maryland.

The team of CSM students Charles Thompson of Bryans Road and Alfonzo Thomas of Prince Frederick won the top prize for CSM submissions in the 2016 Vehicle Theft Prevention PSA Contest, which is presented annually by the Maryland State Police, Maryland Theft Prevention Council and Maryland/DC Anti-Car Theft Committee. Both Thompson and Thomas were awarded $250 each. CSM students Destiny Posso of Waldorf and Tionte Smiley of Brandywine were honored with a monetary award of $100 each for their submission in the CSM contest.

“We were excited to come and work with you,” said Paul Holland, president of the Maryland/DC Anti-Car Theft Committee and part of the delegation that presented the awards in a ceremony at CSM President Dr. Bradley Gottfried's office at the La Plata Campus on March 8. The contest has been running for seven years, but this was the first year that CSM participated. Holland explained that asking college students to create the anti-theft message provides a younger point of view. “It is a way to brand our message a little different than we have in the past,” Holland said. “We are interested in what will resonate with your peer group … It's making the public aware.”

The CSM PSAs were created as part of Associate Professor Olaniyi Areke's digital production class. Areke, who is the digital media production coordinator, said it is important for the students to work on “real-world projects,” and normally the PSAs would have been produced for a local nonprofit in his class. “This is a way to test your skills against other students,” he said about the contest. “That way, they can see where they are compared to other students … It's a great opportunity.”

Before the award ceremony, the students discussed their PSAs and the challenges they faced in creating a clear and compelling message in only 30 seconds. The team of Thomas and Thompson were challenged by unexpected vehicles interfering with their filming, they said. “Charles was the motivator. He was really animated about the project,” Thomas said of Thompson. Thompson plans to continue his education at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and someday create a feature film. Thomas hopes to set up a private business as a videographer after earning his associate degree at CSM.

Posso and Smiley took three to four weeks to put their PSA together. The biggest challenge, they said, was just coming up with their idea. Producing that idea was “pretty fun, pretty interesting,” Posso said. Smiley intends to pursue a bachelor's degree and then work as a cameraman or director. Posso will attend the University of Maine starting this fall and hopes to eventually work to educate and entertain young adults, creating an improvisation program for children.

The students thanked Areke and Patricia Christofaro, station manager and executive producer of CSM's television studio, for their teaching and “for getting us to this point in our career,” Thompson said.

Thompson and Thomas' PSA can be viewed at Posso's and Smiley's video is at Both videos will be shared via the Maryland State Police social media platforms.

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