Class of 2021: Mass comm major aspires to help others, raise childhood cancer awareness

Class of 2021: Mass comm major aspires to help others, raise childhood cancer awareness

C atherine Barr fell in love with Georgia College the moment she took a campus tour.

The Henry County, GA native transferred to GC her sophomore year and has taken advantage of everything the university has to offer.

“I was looking for a school with community and opportunities,” she explained. “I had heard great things about GC and the mass comm program from friends.”

Originally a marketing major, Barr soon switched to mass comm after transferring.

“It is broad, which opens a lot of different job possibilities,” she said of the major. “I enjoy the mix of business, creative and digital elements.”

Barr seized the opportunity to experience a wide-range of courses during her time at Georgia College, a reflection of her enthusiasm for learning and her passion for all aspects of the mass comm major.

It was during her time in Angela Criscoe’s Writing for Digital Media course that Barr created an award-winning screenplay entitled “Will You Be My Friend?”. Her script won second place in the short subject scriptwriting category at the Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) Festival of Media Arts. According to their website, the event is an international digital media and broadcast competition for faculty and students.

Barr’s script drew from her own life experience. The script takes place in modern day Georgia and follows two grade-school girls who become best friends. During the course of their friendship, one becomes terminally ill.

Barr’s own sister, Sarah, battled Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, from age 12 to 19. Sarah’s legacy inspired Barr to write her script. Through the script, she hopes that people will want to take action to find not only treatment but a cure.

“Being only 17 and a half months apart in age, we were extremely close,” said Barr.

Barr and her sister, Sarah.
Barr and her sister, Sarah.

“During her battle with cancer, Sarah received over 1,100 needle pokes, had 367 days of chemo, 189 scans, 20 radiation treatments, 36 blood transfusions, 17 ER visits, 133 oncology appointments, 12 biopsies and bone marrow aspirates, 119 nights in the hospital, and 14 surgeries,” Barr explained. “She passed away in 2016, two weeks before her 20th birthday. Despite the hardships she endured, she remained joyful and selfless. She is my hero and inspiration.”

She was so gentle and kind, all while being the biggest nerd. She excelled in school and wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Her family and her faith were the most important things to her.
– Catherine Barr

Childhood cancer research is severely underfunded, but Barr suggests practical ways that you can use your time, money and voice to help organizations fund research to find more effective treatments. You can use your time to volunteer for organizations such as Blue Skies, make donations to organizations such as CURE Childhood Cancer, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research, and St. Baldrick’s foundation.

Even a small act can raise awareness, she explained.

“You can use your voice, even social media platforms, to bring awareness to this horrific disease and how underfunded it is.”

Sarah’s memory shines on both through the script and through Barr’s description of her.

“She was so gentle and kind, all while being the biggest nerd. She excelled in school and wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Her family and her faith were the most important things to her.”

Her sister’s battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma has been a defining element in Barr’s path. Barr, with a heart for serving others, is pursuing internship opportunities post-graduation. Long-term, she’d “love to build my career with a company, possibly a nonprofit, whose mission is to help others.”

Barr has also forged important relationships with faculty mentors. Through their support, her mentors have made a lasting impression on her, both personally and professionally.

“There are so many incredible professors at GC. Two professors that have really meant a lot to me are Amanda Respess and Angela Criscoe. They have both been so supportive. They are always willing to talk, both about classes and future career plans. They genuinely care for their students and it shows. “

Criscoe described Barr as a talented student with a strong work ethic, along with a willingness to learn anything. Writing for Digital Media class is not in the pathway for Strategic Comm, explained Criscoe. This willingness to approach the course showed Barr’s desire to learn how to write differently than how she had learned to write for Strategic Communication.

Barr in Terrell Hall
Barr in Terrell Hall

“As we progressed through the semester, she always made time to ask questions and showed appreciation for the feedback that I gave her,” said Criscoe. “When I read the synopsis and treatment for her short film screenplay, ‘Will You Be My Friend?’, I knew the final script was going to be fantastic.”

When the winners of the BEA awards were announced, Barr was at work and found out about her award through a friend. “It was such an honor to receive an award for something I put so much of my heart and effort into,” she said.

The award is one of many experiences that Barr has enjoyed during her time at GC. She looks forward to career opportunities as she enters the workforce after graduating.

“GC has provided me with numerous opportunities to grow, both in the classroom and beyond,” she said. “My classes have taught me practical skills that I will take with me into my career post-graduation.”