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Jody Santos’ Documentary “Zamorano University” a Big Hit

Luke Brown

Staff Writer


Luke Brown/The Student
Luke Brown/The Student

How well do you know our professors? Sure, they’re some of the best in the country, but do you take the time to know what they’re interested in and passionate about like they do to you? Jody Santos, an assistant professor of Communications, is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary filmmaker. Santos, a native of Glocester, R.I., makes documentaries for Discovery Channel and PBS, among others. She was also nominated for an Emmy in 2003.

This past Saturday Santos showed one of her films to a group of people for Family Weekend. The documentary, which was apart of the Visionary series on PBS, left the group of people in Hickory Hall thrilled after watching the compelling documentary about the Zamorano University in Honduras. After the viewing the Q-and-A made people amazed that her crew, which only consisted of four other people, had only filmed for five days.

While she is a well-established filmmaker and this is her 11th documentary in the Visionary series alone, Santos was helped in large part by her former student Katie Barsevich, who was also at the viewing on Saturday. Barsevich, an alumn of Springfield College (2013), helped Santos last September while she was still a student. Barsevich has traveled to Europe and other places by herself, but nothing like Honduras.

“I had never traveled to a place like this before,” Barsevich said. “It definitely opened my eyes to realizing and counting my blessings to everything that we have here.”

That is the idea of the Visionary series.

“People whose voices we normally wouldn’t hear, we hear. Being able to give a voice to the voiceless is something that is really important to me as well,” Santos said. “The Visionary mission is two-fold. One is obviously to create a compelling documentary series, but we also want these documentaries to be a develop

ment and an educational tool for them because I think that’s where media is headed. [It] gives the journalism that I do more of a purpose than just airing on TV.”

It’s a long process in picking the next documentary to shoot, which involves organizations sending in applications to be selected, but after it was all said and done, Zamorano University won the election.

Zamorano University is an agricultural school, which was founded in 1941 by Samuel Zemurray, who was a Russian-American. The school is a coeducational university in El Zamorano, Honduras. The site is about a 45-minute taxi ride from the capital.

The school hosts more than 1,000 students from more than 15 different countries around the two American Continents. The students study academics as any major university or college would, but they specialize in agriculture. Enterprises are an essential part of the university, as it takes up about half of the students’ time on campus. The university uses this because they believe in having the students learn by doing. In the end, the goal of the university is to prepare individuals for future careers.

While this is what most universities strive to do, Zamorano University was different because of their professors. The professors admit that it is a job, but sometimes it seems to be more than that. They strive to make kids problem solvers so that they can go out to various parts of the world and help other people. It’s their version of the circle of life that they look to continue.


Luke Brown can be reached at

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