National winner from Laramie High School, Arundathi Nair, was the only entry from the Cowboy State and was honored at a ceremony Wednesday, in partnership with Spectrum

LARAMIE -- C-SPAN’s award-winning state-of-the-art, 45-foot customized Bus paid a visit to Laramie High School on Wednesday, May 8th, to honor Arundathi Nair for her 2nd place winning entry in C-SPAN’s annual student video documentary competition, StudentCam.

Nair is among the 340 students from across the country winning a total of $100,000 in prize money. In all, 150 winning videos were awarded. This year, C-SPAN marks its 15th year of the competition and awards its one-millionth dollar in StudentCam prize money.

Aru Nair being prepped for her interview with Ivette Lucero, C-SPAN representative. (LaramieLive.com photos/TOM KOCAL)

A junior at Laramie High School, Nair is now a four-time winner. This year’s 2nd place effort is called “Out of Many, One and Out of One, Many.”

“This year was very different for me,” said Aru. “I had to learn about what it means to be an American personally. So many people in the population of the United States are children of immigrants. That has a lot to do with their personal identities and their parents’ influence while living in the U.S. and being a part of the American culture is confusing sometimes. I think it’s important to acknowledge that being an American is not defined as ‘apple pie, baseball, and hot dogs.’

“Being who you are is being American. In the United States, we believe in the individual. Having your cultural or ethnic identity is also important as a person, and as an American.”  ---Arundathi Nair

Aru interviewed people from the University of Wyoming, and people from different backgrounds specifically – people who were immigrants, naturalized U.S. citizens, and people who were born here.

Aru and her proud father, Sreejayan, posing with her huge $1500 2nd place award check.

“I got a lot of different perspectives on the topic. It inspired me to think a lot about what being an American means to me because my parents are from India. It’s kind of a weird thing that I look Indian, and I am very culturally Indian, but I am also culturally American because I grew up here and lived all my life here” said Aru.

Her first entry was as an 8th-grader. She and Sam Miller teamed up for an Honorable Mention in 2016 for their video entitled, “Access to Affordable Higher Education is the Investment for the Future.”

Nair went solo in 2017 as a freshman at LHS. Her 1st place video was called “Fossil Fuels to Renewables.” 

Arundathi’s 2018 sophomore video, entitled, “Freedom of Expression is a Human Right, Censorship a Human Wrong,” earned her a 2nd place award.

Asked if she thought journalism or broadcasting was in her future, Aru said, “I really do like making documentaries. I like portraying stories through film. But I’m not too sure about my future yet! I know that I definitely want to continue doing some sort of journalism.”

In partnership with Spectrum, C-SPAN presented a StudentCam certificate of merit to Nair during a school-wide ceremony of classmates, teachers, family members, and elected officials.

Mayor of Laramie Joe Shumway said Aru has represented the Laramie community very well and has been an “outstanding leader.”

“This award shows not only what a dynamic person she is, but also how well she represents the community and the high school. Last night (at the Laramie City Council meeting) we recognized the Laramie Youth Council, and out of the 15 members, of the ones that are graduating this year, every one of them have received significant awards. This shows the dynamic leadership that we have in the youth here and in Laramie, Wyoming,” said Laramie Mayor Joe Shumway.  

Each year, since 2006, C-SPAN partners with its local cable television providers in communities nationwide and invites middle school students grades 6-8 and high school students grades 9-12 to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance. This year, students addressed the theme, "What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience."

In response, a record 6,318 students from 48 states and Washington, D.C., participated. The most popular topics among the 2,923 submissions included First Amendment rights (17 percent), equality/discrimination (13 percent) and immigration (9 percent).

Spectrum proudly partners with C-SPAN for its annual documentary competition, StudentCam.

“Each year, we are impressed and inspired by Laramie-area students' insight and creativity tackling national issues through their short videos. This year's winners creatively portrayed what it means to be American," said Adam Falk, SVP, of State Government Affairs for Charter Communications.

"We at Spectrum are proud to join C-SPAN in congratulating Arundathi Nair as a 2nd prize winner."

During Bus tours Wednesday, through interactive kiosks and demonstrations, students, teachers and community members learned about C-SPAN's 40 years of in-depth coverage of the American political process and comprehensive online educational resources, including C-SPAN.org – an extensive video library containing close to 250,000 hours of searchable content for viewing, research and education purpose, dating back to 1987. In addition, Bus visitors were invited to share their thoughts on what it means to be an American for C-SPAN's "Voices from the Road" project.

Since 1993, a C-SPAN Bus has traveled across the nation in partnership with C-SPAN's cable and satellite providers for local interactions through visits to schools and community events. Visitors to the Bus engage with the C-SPAN Bus crew and the onboard interactive tools to learn about the unique public service television network, C-SPAN's online presence and C-SPAN Classroom's comprehensive educational resources. Bus visitors will learn about C-SPAN's unique non-commercial, editorially balanced, non-biased coverage of public affairs and political events and the cable industry's commitment to funding its operations.

In Laramie, C-SPAN programming is provided by Spectrum as a commercial-free public service and can be seen on channel 18; C-SPAN2 on channel 19; C-SPAN3 on channel 13; and on the web at C-SPAN.org. Funding for C-SPAN operations, including Bus visits, is provided by Spectrum and other cable and satellite TV providers.

Fans can follow the adventures of the C-SPAN Bus on Twitter and Instagram(@cspanbus) and online at C-SPAN.org/community.