By Nicole Cortese
What do a 96-year-old woman who likes to tell sex jokes, a rapper, a homeless person, a UFC fighter and the presidential debates all have in common?
They have all been under the lens of Andrew Jenks, an award-winning filmmaker, star of MTV’s World of Jenks and correspondent on behalf of MTV for the presidential debates. Jenks visited Rider’s Yvonne Theater on Monday to kick off Unity Days 2012.
In an effort by the Communication Department to unite students in 1992, Rider University created what was then called Reach-Out Day. Unity Days were established to promote harmony between students and to magnify the diversity on campus.
“We created something that has become very strong and has become a Rider tradition,” Dean of Students Anthony Campbell said during his introductory speech.
Andrew Jenks, a self-professed shy 26-year-old from New York, recounted the most memorable parts of his career thus far. He shared his insights into national news as well as glimpses into his personal world.
The presentation was punctuated by laughter. According to senior psychology major Jessica Archer, the audience found him very relatable.
“It was really cool to have him speak here on campus,” Archer said. “The fact that he’s young like us made it easy to relate to current issues and topics.”
Jenks shared the trailers for his films Room 335, World of Jenks and The Zen of Bobby Z and entertained the audience with personal anecdotes while explaining the thought process behind different aspects of his television show.
“I enjoyed getting to know more about how his show started and what the motives are behind each episode,” freshman elementary education major Mehgan Forkel said. “He was a great speaker and I was happy to have had the opportunity to listen to him speak.”
With a dry sense of humor and solid comedic timing, he discussed a variety of topics ranging from “faking it to make it” in the real world as well as other life lessons he has learned.
“[The answer] ‘No,’ had become a starting point,” Jenks said, reminiscing about his college days when he was trying to finish his first documentary, Room 335.
He explained how working hard goes a long way in achieving success and that giving back is just as important.
Jenks attributed his MTV success to hard work and perseverance. He shared humorous anecdotes about the unique people he had met along the way and how it was a very humbling experience. He employed a lot of joking to get his point across.
“I thought that the Andrew Jenks lecture was fun, humorous and inspiring,” Forkel said.
During the Q&A from the audience, he was asked about his opinion regarding the upcoming presidential election. He stressed the importance of voting to the audience, particularly how it relates to college students.
“We’re the first generation whose parents believe we are not going to grow up in a country as great as their own,” Jenks said.
He explained how it is frustrating when students are not aware or involved in the important issues that surround them. He decided to interview 20 students on Super Tuesday in Ohio during one of the primaries and ask them, “What are you doing today?”
“I got really demoralized,” Jenks said. “There was a primary going on and students I was talking to didn’t even know it was happening.”
He mentioned how for every few students who were unaware about political issues, there was at least one student who was involved and motivated to get their peers involved as well.
Jenks was a hit among those in attendance. He effectively conveyed a variety of messages to the audience, particularly about working hard, giving back and faking it to make it.
“He was insightful, motivational and inspirational, which in turn helped demonstrate the purpose of celebrating Unity Days on campus,” Archer said.