Commencement 2018: Film, media, public relations graduate comes into his own at URI

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Commencement 2018: Film, media, public relations graduate, Trenton Anderson. Photo by Randy Osga

KINGSTON, R.I., April 13, 2018—Trenton Anderson was a shy teenager in high school. He didn’t have many friends, and he spent a lot of time alone in his room making YouTube videos.

At the University of Rhode Island, he emerged from his shell, becoming something of a celebrity on campus, even getting crowned homecoming king this fall.

“People who walk across campus with me always complain that it takes so long,” jokes Anderson. “I stop and say ‘Hi’ to everyone. I have hundreds of friends.”

This spring, the URI senior will graduate with degrees in film/media and public relations from the Harrington School of Communication and Media. His four years at URI, he says, have been the best of his life.

Not only did he become more confident and independent, he learned how to make films and market them to an audience. His career goal is to work in promotion and advertising for the television and film industries.

Anderson grew up in Madison, N.J., across the street from Drew University, where his parents work. It was expected that he would attend Drew, but Anderson had other ideas.

On the suggestion of a high school physics teacher, Anderson visited URI and “fell in love with it.” His freshman year was rocky, but he stayed, and by his sophomore year he was thriving.

A turning point was when he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity, an experience so fulfilling he eventually became director of recruitment and new member development for the 3,000-member Greek community.

He also excelled in leadership after participating in the Leadership Institute, an experience that inspired him to minor in leadership studies. He’s a peer leader for the Leadership Institute, and he’s an orientation team leader for new students.

“I discovered that I liked building relationships and meeting new people,” he says. “It’s been magical.”

Service has also defined his years at URI. During spring break last year, he and 25 other students helped families in southern Louisiana whose houses were damaged by floods. He removed furniture, installed new walls, and worked in homeless shelters and food pantries.

“I love service,” he says. “It’s all about humanity. It comes down to humans helping humans. That’s just such a pure genuine feeling. I get as much out of it as they do.”

During spring break this year, he traveled to Guatemala to build a house for a young family with a 6-month-old baby. He and other URI students worked with local masons to dig a foundation, put up columns, and pour cement. He also made smokeless stoves for families.

It was Anderson’s first time out of the United States.

“Immersing myself in that experience was groundbreaking for me,” he says. “I got to develop and build on relationships with people who work tirelessly and courageously just so they can survive.”

In his film and public relations classes he’s learned how to make a film, from start to finish, and market it—an invaluable skill as he searches for work. He’s one of 10 finalists from a pool of 1,200 for an internship in digital entertainment at the Television Academy in Los Angeles.

“URI was a huge period of growth for me,” he says. “I was a very, very shy insecure kid growing up. Here, I thrived. My experience allowed me to be confident with who I am. I felt like I could be me on this campus. There’s a place for everyone here, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. The University makes it clear that you are important.”