Posted on Aug 25, 2017 in Alumni News and News
We spoke with Amie Just, j’17, one of the collaborators behind the viral video sensation titled KU: A Journey. Just worked with KU classmate Ben Brodsky, a KU film studies major we profiled here, and contributed the script that would accompany the video footage collected during four years of campus shoots. The script might have otherwise been a stretch for the sports journalist Just. However, with the alma mater as her muse, the writing was poetic, and she titled her poem, which can be read here in its entirety, Home. Get to know the writer behind the behind the video that has resonated with so many Jayhawks in our exclusive interview with Amie Just.
What inspired you to write the poem for this video?
Ben (Brodsky, c’17) texted me in mid-April saying that he wanted to collaborate to make a video highlighting four years of memories at KU. The original idea was that the video and the accompanying poem would be a collage of the meaningful experiences we had in Lawrence.
Ben, the talented videographer that he is, had 1,000s of hours of video that he’d taken over the course of his college career and wanted to create something powerful with some of those clips. I thought it would be a good way to wrap up my time at KU, so I decided to go for it.
I wrote at least 25 different versions of the poem. I reworked some phrases, scratched full lines, changed words to different synonyms, restructured and moved things around dozens of times as well to get something I was proud of. The original piece I worked up maybe has one or two lines that are the same from the final product. I’m definitely not a poet — I’m a journalist. Those two writing styles are quite different, but I’m happy with how it turned out.
How do you want Jayhawks to react after watching it?
I want Jayhawks to feel a full range of emotions. That’s what I was trying to convey with my word choice. While we were at KU, we all had just about every emotion flare up from time to time. I wanted people to smile. I wanted people to laugh. I wanted people to feel a sense of belonging, nostalgia and homesickness. I wanted the words to make Jayhawks fondly remember their time at KU.
Words can be extremely powerful, especially when they’re paired with incredible images. I couldn’t have expressed all the feelings people had when watching this video in words. That’s why I chose to be minimal with them — let the viewers have their own feelings about what they were seeing and hearing. Different Jayhawks have different memories from the Chi O Fountain or Wescoe Beach. Being selective in word choice lets people go back to those memories and relive those feelings. I think that’s why people are having such a positive reaction to it. No one is telling them how to feel; They’re just feeling.
How have people responded after seeing it?
Several of my friends have reached out to me and said that they cried watching the video because it made them really miss their college experience. I never meant to make anyone cry, but I feel really honored that something we created elicits such a powerful response from people.
Other people said they got goosebumps or chills or a feeling they couldn’t explain. I get goosebumps every time I read the words of my poem or watch the video, or, truthfully, every time I think about this project. I’ve done a lot of writing in my day, but very few pieces have given me such a sense of fulfillment like this.
More than 80,000 times this video has been viewed on Facebook with more than 1,400 shares and 1,000 likes (editor’s note: as of this writing, views have eclipsed 100,000). That just demonstrates how incredible KU and the student, faculty, staff and alumni base is. These two recent grads put together a sentimental video about the University of Kansas and it hits home with all of us for different reasons. That’s just how special this place is. That’s the reason we wanted to do this in the first place — just showcase how much KU means to all of us.
Can you tell us about your KU experience?
I was a journalism major with minors in English and Human Sexuality. I spent the majority of my time in Memorial Stadium, Allen Fieldhouse, Stauffer-Flint or the Kansan newsroom in Dole. I didn’t exactly have the traditional student experience since I covered Kansas football and basketball for the majority of my time in school, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Going to sporting events was part of my education. I learned a lot that way and it absolutely prepared me for where I am now.
Because of my work as a student journalist at the Kansan, I had the opportunity to string for the Associated Press, contribute for the Topeka Capital-Journal and intern for the Washington Post all while I was in college.
I was also a member of Omega Phi Alpha. That was a huge part of my collegiate life because giving back to the communities I live in is really important to me. That’s also why I gave my time as a Journalism Student Ambassador and served as president and public relations director and gave back on the Journalism Student Leadership Board on the diversity committee. I was really fortunate to have the opportunities that I had within the J-School and sharing those experiences with others was something I enjoyed. Recruiting future Jayhawk Journalists to a journalism school that I helped make better is something I’m really proud of. Going to KU was the right choice. No other place in the world could have given me the experiences and opportunities that the KU J-School did.
What are your plans after KU?
After graduation I accepted a job in Missoula, Montana, covering University of Montana football for the Missoulian and all Lee Montana newspapers. I tell people that Missoula is an alternate universe version of Lawrence. I get a lot of the same vibes by walking around downtown and on campus. But there just happens to be mountains on all four sides with rivers skirting through.
I’ll try to get back someday soon. Maybe Kansas football can schedule the Grizzlies as a future FCS opponent? One can hope.
Yes, one can hope! Thanks for sharing your KU experience and this wonderful poem with KU alumni, Amie. We hope to see you come back “home” soon. Rock Chalk!