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Going virtual: Small @One team helps create connection for the Wolf Pack Family through virtual University events – Nevada Today


Student Worker, Drew Willis, filming the student choir’s Alma Mater performance for the 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremonies. The very socially distant recording took place in Nightingale Concert Hall with Paul Torkelson’s 2020 class, the University of Nevada, Reno Chamber Singers.

“Virtual events matter now more than ever because people need and want to be able to connect,” Corbit said. “Maintaining our connection to the University community – campus colleagues, students and donors – is vital. We believe in service, outreach and keeping our audiences informed and are working tirelessly to stay in touch. We want all of our constituents to know they matter deeply to us. The Libraries @One team helps Development and Alumni Relations do this.”

First-ever virtual Commencement

In order to reimagine the Commencement experience for May 2020 and December 2020 graduates, the @One team along with the University’s Division of Student Services’ Department of Enrollment Services explored how best to adapt the traditional commencement ceremony to a virtual commencement experience for graduates and their families. In a normal year the @One team assists with all major, on-campus, live events such as this.

“We have worked with Michelle and her team for years,” Sariah Tillotson, graduation services coordinator, said. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Libraries team has been willing and eager to offer and share their expertise with us. The two virtual commencement ceremonies we are working on now would not be possible without this team.”

In order to develop these virtual commencement ceremonies, a lot of advance planning and researching had to take place. The team felt it was critical to celebrate the extraordinary achievement of earning a degree from the University.

“The University hasn’t forgotten about its 2020 graduates,” Rebaleati said. “There are so many of us from across campus working together to develop fair, but appropriate ways to celebrate these remarkable accomplishments.”

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In order to prepare for the two December 5th ceremonies, the @One team worked to record a variety of speakers, University Administrators, student leaders, and more. In all they worked to create more than 25 videos featuring 21 different speakers, a student choir, quintet performances, and solo vocalist.

A set was built inside the @One broadcast studio where University Administrators could go to record their commencement speeches. Those not on campus were given instructions and recorded their segments at home. The student choir and quintet were recorded in Church Fine Arts’ Nightingale Concert Hall and the solo vocalist was recorded in University Arts’ Hall Recital Hall, all with the help of Ray Silva and Rich Norris.

Prospective Student Events and Programming Manager, Lexi Erwin, said watching the @One team work to record commencement speakers was really fun.

“Recording the Deans was especially fun,” Erwin said. “President Sandoval’s speech is very moving and I think it will be well received.”

Main streaming computer viewpoint of President Sandoval hosting the 2020 Virtual Homecoming Alumni Awards Celebration.
Main streaming computer viewpoint of President Sandoval hosting the 2020 Virtual Homecoming Alumni Awards Celebration.

The scheduling of the on-campus recordings was quite tricky.

“Buffers were created to allow for proper sanitization between shoots for each speaker and/or performer,” Tillotson said. “It was a massive undertaking assembling all of these speeches, music performances and slides of each graduating student. It is our hope that all of this hard work translates to a smooth, harmonious and joyful commencement event.

“What greater way could we celebrate a momentous and monumental event for graduating students, than having the entire University community come together to pull it off during this time,” she said.

 Provost Kevin Carman (left) recording his portion for the 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremonies, while Maryan Tooker (middle) controls the teleprompter and Kyle Weerheim (right) operates the camera.
Provost Kevin Carman (left) recording his portion for the 2020 Virtual Commencement Ceremonies, while Maryan Tooker (middle) controls the teleprompter and Kyle Weerheim (right) operates the camera.

The @One team

Michelle Rebaleati is the Libraries manager overseeing the small @One team of students and multimedia production specialists helping to produce these signature University events. If you recognize her name, maybe it’s because you are familiar with her

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2019 TEDxUniversityofNevadaReno talk looking at how the Libraries is using virtual reality technology to preserve the past?

“My team and I are very proud to be part of the Libraries organization, but we aren’t librarians!” Rebaleati said. “We exist ‘backstage’ to support the University’s vast array of colleges and departments to help elevate those areas in the best way possible using the technology available.”

The mobile broadcast studio set-up in the back of William N. Pennington Engineering Building Room 130. Shawn Sariti (back) operating the camera and Kyle Weerheim (front) monitoring the equipment.
The mobile broadcast studio set-up in the back of William N. Pennington Engineering Building Room 130. Shawn Sariti (back) operating the camera and Kyle Weerheim (front) monitoring the equipment.

Rebaleati is the technological mastermind behind designing the audio and visual components of these new virtual University events. She also oversees the production itself.  She, along with her team, work to assist the University’s Development and Alumni Relations’ University Events Department with major University events such as, Honor the Best, all new building openings, and donor events. She and her team have also supported the College of Science’s Discover Science Series, the President’s State of the University Address, the Harry Reid Public Engagement Lecture Series, the University Libraries Nevada Writers Hall of Fame event and more.

“Without seeing what this team is capable of… you almost have to see it to believe it,” Corbit said. “When setting up for new, virtual events, there are usually no fewer than 15 million cords. I am exaggerating slightly, but there are so many cords! When technical issues arise, this team can identify the problem and fix complex hiccups in order to allow the show to go on. It’s remarkable.”

Students posing with camera equipment carts
Kyle Weerheim (left) and Drew Willis (right) strike a pose with the camera equipment inside the University Arts Building before shooting the 2020 Commencement Ceremony’s National Anthem performance by Albert Lee.

In addition to Rebaleati, the current @One team includes six highly collaborative and skilled professionals: Kyle Weerheim, Multimedia Production Specialist; Maryan Tooker, Multimedia Production Specialist; Shawn Sariti, Multimedia Production Specialist; and student workers Drew Willis, Landon Renwick and Reed Barrus.

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“While my team is by my side, assisting at all times, I would be remiss if I failed to mention all of the different campus collaborators that assist us in what we do,” Rebaleati said. “There are so many different people to thank. From the staff at The Joe Crowley Student Union and University’s Office of Marketing and Communications, to TLT and University Events, and beyond. So many different people make these events happen and I am so grateful for their confidence in us, as well as their support.”



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